Henry McNish was the carpenter on Shackleton’s Endurance voyage of 1914-16. While on the outward journey to Antarctica he built a pram dinghy amongst other things. But he was a difficult character. The only man that Shackleton felt he didn’t have the measure of, McNish at one point, after the Endurance had been crushed in the pack ice and the crew were adrift on floes, disobeyed orders. Apparently he never forgave Shackleton for the slaughter of the cats for food. Shackleton chose McNish as a crew member on the journey to South Georgia, reasoning that if left behind with the main body of men he would prove troublesome and affect morale.
But it was on Elephant Island before that historic journey to South Georgia that McNish’s talents as a carpenter came into their own. Of their three boats Shackleton decided to prepare the James Caird for the
Today I wished I had a pipkin of that kind of talent with wood, even using a set square it was impossible to make square cuts. I checked the set square with a protractor and found it square. So what’s going on? Are my saws all bent or is it my arm? Maybe I should take the whole lot round to Mr Mushroom the carpenter, get him to sort it out on his flash machines.
Is it square?
Henry McNish: not a very nice bloke but one hell of a carpenter.