Shackleton, Pardo & the ‘Yelcho’

August 31, 2017

In August, 1916, at Punta Arenas, Shackleton, in his own words, ‘begged the Chilian Government to let me have the Yelcho for a last attempt to reach the island [Elephant Island].’ The government allowed Shackleton use of the steamer but he promised to not bring her into the ice (*cough cough!*). The Yelcho had been previously used in the third attempt by Shackleton to return to Elephant Island–she was used to tow the Emma part of the way out of Port Stanley. The below telegram shows the navy’s willingness to assist Shackleton with the Yelcho.

Telegram, 10 July, 1916, of the Admiral Muñoz Hurtado to the Governor of Magallanes informing that the Navy does not have problem in facilitating the Yelcho to aid to Shackleton.
Repositorio Digital del Archivo Histórico de la Armada.

Read my post about the rescue aboard the Yelcho at the link below:

100 Years Ago Today: The Rescue

The Yelcho, a Steel Screw Steamer of 2 Masts, was built in 1906 by the Scottish firm Geo. and Co. of Greenock, on the River Clyde, Scotland. She was sold to the Chilean Navy in 1908.

On 6 September, 2016, the monument and plates of the bow of the Yelcho were opened and inaugurated in Puerto Williams. It was part of the commemoration of the centenary anniversary of the feat of Luis Pardo Villalón and the bravery of the Yelcho crew in the rescue of the Elephant Island party.

The Yelcho c. 1930.
Repositorio Digital del Archivo Histórico de la Armada.

In the acknowledgements of his book, South!, Shackleton noted the crucial role of the Chilean government and navy:

Finally, it was the Chilian Government that was directly responsible for the rescue of my comrades. This southern Republic was unwearied in its efforts to make a successful rescue, and the gratitude of our whole party is due to them. I especially mention the sympathetic attitude of Admiral Munoz Hurtado, head of the Chilian Navy, and Captain Luis Pardo, who commanded the Yelcho on our last and successful venture.

Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Repositorio Digital del Archivo Histórico de la Armada.

Worsley also wrote favourably of the Chileans in his book, Endurance: An Epic of Polar Adventure:

Her Captain, Luis Pardo, and the crew of the Yelcho volunteered to a man. These Chileans are in my opinion, by far the finest seamen in South America. Probably they are the best Latin sailors in the world.

As Michael Smith noted in Unsung Hero, Pardo was ‘content to allow the peerless Worsley to navigate.’


FOR MORE ON Shackleton, Pardo, the Yelcho and the relief & rescue of the Elephant Island party, SEE THESE LINKS:

Caledonian Maritime Research Trust: Scottish Built Ships, A History of Shipbulding in Scotland

Armada de Chile: ‘Inauguración del Monumento de la Proa del Escampavía ‘Yelcho”

(Inauguration of monument to the Yelcho at Puerto Williams)

Museo Marí­timo Nacional: ‘Elemento de el escampavía Yelcho a la colección del MMN’

(National Naval Museum: new additions to collection from the Yelcho)

Repositorio Digital del Archivo Histórico de la Armada: Museo Marí­timo Nacional

(Digital Repository of the Historical Archive of the Navy: National Maritime Museum)


Wikipedia, ‘Yelcho (1906)’

Wikipedia, ‘Luis Pardo’



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