HMS Endurance discovered: Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship found in Antarctic

You might have already seen the news that the HMS Endurance has been discovered more than 3,000 metres below the Antarctic Ocean.

It’s a fascinating discovery – in fact, the team that discovered the lost ship said that it’s ‘by far the finest wooden shipwreck’ they’ve ever seen.

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The stern of the Endurance with the name and emblematic polestar. Credit: Falklands Maritime Heritage Trust and National Geographic

If you don’t know why this story has captured everybody’s imagination, I’m going to explain to you why Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expedition on his ship HMS Endurance is one of the most enthralling stories in British maritime history

The story of Endurance…

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expeditions to the Antarctic captured my imagination as a young man, and even inspired the likes of Sir Edmund Hillary.

His most famous voyage was on the HMS Endurance – the very ship that’s discovery was announced this week. It’s this journey that produced one of the greatest stories of heroism in British exploration history.

Shackleton’s attempt to complete a Trans-Antarctic voyage left him and his crew stranded on the ice for 6 months with no prospect of rescue after the Endurance was crushed and sank in the place where it’s since remained for more than a century.

With the pack ice breaking apart underneath their feet, Shackleton and the crew of the Endurance had to make a decision and fast.

Shackleton expedition - HMS Endurance discovered: Sir Ernest Shackleton's lost ship found in Antarctic
The crew of Endurance on Elephant Island, off the coast of Antarctica. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Using three small fishing boats the crew sailed 800 miles through the treacherous Southern Ocean, battling against hurricane force winds and icy water to cross South Georgia’s uncharted glaciers.

During this tortuous journey, Shackleton’s main concern was for his men. At one point, Shackleton handed over his precious mittens to a member of the crew who lost his at sea, suffering frostbite as a result.

When rescue finally arrived, the crew of the Endurance returned home to find that the First World War had broken out in their absence.

Shackleton’s immense journey, his bravery, and his endurance firmly secured him a place amongst Britain’s greatest.

The Discovery of the Endurance

Now, more than 100 years since it was last seen, the HMS Endurance has finally been discovered!

Dr John Shears, the expedition leader of Endurance22, said the search for Endurance had made “polar history” by completing what he called “the world’s most challenging shipwreck search”.

In memory of the famous explorer and his ship the HMS Endurance, you have the chance to own a collection of coins that celebrate the famous explorer.

View our range of Sir Ernest Shackleton commemorative coins here >>

Ernest Shackleton BU 2 Set - HMS Endurance discovered: Sir Ernest Shackleton's lost ship found in Antarctic
The Ernest Shackleton 100th Anniversary £2 BU Set

The day I took 800 coins to the sky in a WWII Spitfire

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to see the RAF’s most famous plane up close and personal. That’s because on the 24th March I drove up to the historic Duxford Aerodrome to have 800 of the brand new Spitfire £2 coins flown in an original WWII Spitfire.

I arrived at 9am but unfortunately the chance of flying was in doubt because of the poor visibility caused by low lying clouds. The rest of the morning was spent nervously looking at the sky waiting for enough visibility for the pilot to safely take the 74 year old warbird into the air.

Our pilot for the day was Flight Lieutenant Anthony Parkinson MBE, known as Parky. The delay caused by the weather gave me the opportunity to talk with Parky about his time in the RAF and how the Spitfire compares to the modern jets he has flown during his time with the RAF. You can see Parky discussing his career and the Spitfire in the video below.

The wait for take-off also gave me the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of the famous fighter plane and experience some of what it would have been like for the young pilots who sat in the same cockpit to defend Britain in the skies over 70 years ago.

Finally at 2.00pm the cloud cleared enough for a small pocket of visibility to take the Spitfire into the air. We quickly pushed the Spitfire out of the hanger and Parky secured the 800 Spitfire £2 coins into the wing bays which would have once held the plane’s armaments.

At 2.20 Parky prepared the plane for take-off. Standing a few yards from the plane whilst it’s famous Rolls Royce engine fired up was brilliant, and the Spitfire TD314 drew in a crowd nearby while it taxied along the runway.

Parky swiftly took the famous plane into the sky and gave me and the rest of the crowd a fly by. Despite the cloud cover it was still fantastic to see the Spitfire race through the sky at the hands of a former Red Arrows display pilot.

The brand new Spitfire £2 coin is a fantastic commemoration of the famous plane and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to mark the 100th anniversary of the RAF with such a fitting tribute.

Thank you to Ben Perkins, Flight Lieutenant Anthony Parkinson MBE and the rest of the team at Aerolegends for helping to take the Spitfire £2 coins to the sky and for giving me the opportunity to see this famous warbird in the flesh.

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Signed edition Silver Proof £2 Spitfire coin.

If you’re interested  

All 800 coins have now been sold. However, we will soon be flying the 4 times as limited ‘signed edition’ Silver Proof £2. Click here to pre-reserve yours now >>