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Two Masons Joined by Fate and Heroism


            It was a pleasant spring evening in Valparaiso, the main port of Chile, when on September 30, 1916, the members of the Lodge of Harmony N° 1411, E.C., awaited with expectation the opening of the lodge. This was no ordinary lodge meeting, but a festive one to honour two brother Masons, one British and the other Chilean, who had returned from an astounding saga of heroism and endurance in the icy wilderness of Antarctica.

            This paper is intended to give the background to that extraordinary lodge meeting, and at the same time contribute to correct a historic injustice made to Brother Luis Pardo.

            Exploration has always been an adventure and a challenge that excites the minds and warms the hearts of brave men. Today the frontier is space, but a hundred years ago some of the main challenges facing explorers were the frozen wastelands of the poles. In 1909 Robert E. Peary reached the North Pole, and in 1911 Roald Amundsen gained the race with Scott to plant the flag on the South Pole. What still remained to confront the courage of the polar explorers was one last project: to cross the icy continent of Antarctica from one end to another.

            This was the challenge that our brother, Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, decided to take up. His plan was to cross Antarctica from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea, passing close to the South Pole. The journey of exploration was mainly financed by a wealthy Member of Parliament, Sir James Caird, who devoted part of his fortune – based on jute– to philanthropy. In his honour, Shackleton gave his name to the biggest of the three lifeboats built especially for the expedition.

            Ernest Henry Shackleton had been initiated in Navy Lodge #2612 of London on July 9, 1901. He then attended Guild of Freemen Lodge #3525 where he was passed on November 2, 1911 and raised on May 30, 1913. A year later he was made Honorary Member of that Lodge, and remained a member of both the Navy Lodge and the Guild of Freemen Lodge until his death. [1]

            Antarctica was no unknown territory for Shackleton. In fact, he had almost reached the South Pole in 1907, when he was forced to turn back for lack of food, only 97 miles away from his target. Before that, he had joined Robert Falcon Scott's National Antarctic Expedition in 1901. Scott was also a Mason, member of the same Navy Lodge #2612.

            This, then, was Shackleton's third Antarctic venture, known as the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, organized under the auspices of the Royal Geographical Society. Their ship, the Endurance, was a 300-ton, three-mast brig equipped with a steam engine and a double hull, initially built to carry polar bear hunting parties into the Arctic. "As such, she was designed to withstand icy seas and a significant degree of pressure". [2]

World War I was starting at that time so, before setting off in their journey, Shackleton – with the unanimous agreement of his crew – sent a telegram to the British Admiralty offering their services and supplies for the war effort. The answer of Sir Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, was laconic: "Proceed".

            Having thus received the blessings of the British Government, the Endurance set sail from Plymouth on August 8, 1914. After an uneventful crossing of the Atlantic, she made a provisioning stop at Buenos Aires, and then continued to South Georgia, a British-administered island East of Cape Horn, where Norwegian whalers had established a station. On December 5, 1914, the expedition left the island taking a southern course to the Weddell Sea. Two days later the ship entered the region of floating ice blocks. The Endurance continued sailing to the south, making her way among the floating floes. After six weeks, she had traveled over 800 miles and only a day's journey separated her from Shackleton's destination, Vashel Bay.

            The weather, however, foiled his plans. The year 1914 was exceptionally cold in the Antarctic, to the point that even in the middle of summer the ice floes were numerous. By January 18 the ship was already surrounded by ice, and then a sudden drop of temperature froze the sea and the ship became trapped by the ice. From that moment, unable to move, the ship drifted slowly with the ice pack, first to the west, then north, month after long month, with no possible way to escape. Furthermore, the relentless pressure of the ice mounted to the point that the little ship could no longer withstand it and was crushed beyond all hope of repair.

            Wednesday, October 27, 1915, marked the end of the Endurance. This is how Shackleton describes her last moments: "This morning, our last on the ship, the weather was clear… From the crow's-nest there was no sign of land of any sort. The pressure was increasing steadily, and the passing hours brought no relief or respite for the ship. The attack of the ice reached its climax at 4 p.m. The ship was hove stern up by the pressure… Then, while we watched, the ice loosened and the Endurance sank a little. The decks were breaking upwards and the water was pouring in below…I cannot describe the impression of relentless destruction that was forced upon me as I looked down and around. The floes with the force of millions of tons of moving ice behind them were simply annihilating the ship".  [3]        

            The 28 men aboard were forced to abandon ship. Shackleton planned to move to Paulet Island, some 350 miles to the north, where they could find a shack with provisions left by a previous expedition. However, pulling the laden boats, weighing at least a ton, over the ice pack for such a long distance proved to be an impossible task, so the plan had to be abandoned, and they made camp on the ice, hoping that the ice would eventually break so that they could launch the boats. Crushed beyond repair, the Endurance finally sank on November 21, bow first, her stern raised in the air.

            As summer progressed, the surface ice began to melt. On December 23 the group set off in the direction of land, with the dogs pulling the stores and the men dragging the boats fitted with runners. Moving, however, proved to be too difficult. The surface of the ice was not smooth, but was crossed with ridges almost impossible to surmount with the sledges. Shackleton finally realized that they had to wait for a chance to launch the boats into the water. He set up a camp, fittingly named "Patience", on January first, 1916.

            Only on April 9 the weather did improve, the ice began to break up and the explorers were finally able to launch their three boats, the James Caird, the Dudley Dockery and the Stancomb Wills. The 28 men and their provisions boarded the boats and sailed to Elephant Island, near the eastern end of the South Shetlands. On April 15 the explorers made land, after having spent 497 days on sea or ice. There, on Elephant Island, they established their camp on the north side. Still, that was not nearly the end of their odyssey. One of the boats, the James Caird, was prepared to travel to South Georgia Island, situated some 800 miles to the north. Shackleton and five other men  went aboard. The rest of the explorers remained behind, in charge of the Second-in-Command, the Australian John Robert Francis (Frank) Wild – also a Mason. [4]

            After writing their wills, the men sailed on April 24, 1916. Sailing was arduous and dangerous, as can be imagined. After 17 days and suffering 10 storms with winds of over 100 miles per hour, the party arrived at King Haakon Bay, in South Georgia on May 10, but the wind had pushed the boat so it landed some 130 miles away from the whalers' station. Shackleton decided that Worsley, Crean and himself would cross the island on foot to Stromness bay, some 25 miles away on a direct line. They set off on May 19, and early next morning they could hear the whistles of the whaling station. Soon after noon they reached the Stromness station, where they were warmly received, and a party was sent to bring the others.

            Once in South Georgia, Shackleton chartered a small whaler steamboat, the Southern Sky, and equipped it to sail to Elephant Island to rescue the rest of the crew that had been left behind. Several times he tried to cross the pack of ice, but failed every time. The closest he could get to the island was 70 miles. Short of fuel, the ship had to return to South Georgia, where Shackleton could find no more coal. He then hired a cutter and sailed to the Falkland Islands. From Port Stanley, Sir Ernest sent a desperate telegram asking for help. The United Kingdom, however, was engaged in the life-or-death struggle of World War I, and could offer no assistance.

            Fortunately, the Uruguayan Government heeded his call for help. It placed at Shackleton's disposal a small fishing ship of only 80 tons, the Instituto de Pesca N° 1, commanded by Lt. Ruperto Elichiri Behety. The ship sailed south, but some 30 miles away from its destination the ice pack became impassable, and she had to turn back.

            Time was running out; and Shackleton could not wait; he knew that the men stranded on Elephant Island would not survive another winter.

            At this point, Shackleton placed his hopes on the Chilean government, and moved to Punta Arenas. Once there, he hired the schooner Emma, of 70 tons, and attempted once more to reach Elephant Island. The Emma, piloted by the Chilean Leon Aguirre Romero, cast off from Punta Arenas on July 16, carrying Shackleton, Worsley and Crean. In the first part of her journey, the ship was escorted and towed – to save fuel - by the Yelcho, commanded by Second Pilot Luis Pardo. This tugboat, as we shall see in a moment, was to play the central role in the eventual rescue of the explorers.

            The Emma, however, was unable to complete her mission. Close to Elephant Island, she met numerous bergs, some of which she could not avoid. Badly damaged, the ship had to return to Punta Arenas braving a strong tempest.

            While staying at Port Stanley, in the Falklands, Shackleton had met the Chilean Vice-Admiral Joaquín Muñoz Hurtado, who was returning from a mission in London and was now "Director General" (i.e. Commander in Chief) of the Chilean Navy. Anxious to find a solution for his predicament, Shackleton, now made a desperate appeal for help to the Chilean.

            Only two Chilean naval units were available at the time in Punta Arenas, the tugboats Yáñez and Yelcho. Although neither one of these boats was really suited for the mission, in the absence of an alternative the Yelcho was selected. The 467-ton Yelcho was relatively old, having built in 1906 by G. Brown & Co., Greenock, Scotland. It had a 350 HP engine and could make 10 knots. The ship had no double hull, no heating and no electric light. She even lacked a radio. [5] Sending such a ship to the Antarctic was an act of recklessness, which could only be justified by the urgency of the crisis.      

            The nominal commander of the Yelcho was First Pilot Francisco Miranda, but he was ill. Volunteers were called up, and the first to offer his services was Pilot Luis Pardo, who was then commander the other tugboat, the Yáñez. 

            Pardo had been initiated on October 30, 1911 in Independencia Lodge N° 38 of Valparaiso. He requested a demit on May 11, 1914, still an Entered Apprentice, and then joined Aurora Lodge N° 6 of Valparaiso, one of the oldest Chilean lodges (founded in 1868), under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Chile. [6]

            The character of Brother Luis Pardo can be judged from the letter he wrote to his father, once he had accepted the command of the rescue mission:

"The task is great, but nothing scares me: I'm a Chilean. Two considerations make me face these dangers: to save the explorers, and to add glory to my country. I would be happy if I could achieve what others have failed to do. If I fail and die, you will take care of my Laura and my children who would be left without support except yours. If I succeed, I shall have fulfilled my humanitarian duty as a seaman and a Chilean. When you read this letter, either your son has died or he has arrived at Punta Arenas with the castaways. I shall not return alone…".  [7]


            The Yelcho was quickly fitted with whatever materials were available, a volunteer crew was hand-picked by Pardo; and Shackleton, Worsley and Crean joined them. The ship cast off on Friday, August 25. That evening she arrived at Port Burno. Early next day, the ship continued on her way reaching the port of Ushuaia, on the Argentinean side of Tierra del Fuego. On Sunday, the Yelcho continued to Picton Island, where she took an abundant supply of coal. At 03:30 hours on Monday the coaling operation ended and the ship immediately sailed into the open sea. The weather was fine, and the Yelcho made her 10 knots without difficulty, continuing on Tuesday until 17:00 hours, when the ship entered a zone of fog banks, but the blowing wind left some clearings allowing a visible horizon of 2 to 5 miles. When the ship was some 150 miles from Elephant Island, the fog became so thick that she continued sailing blind, with imminent danger of collision with the floes. With consummate skill, Pardo piloted guided by his seaman's instinct, though some ice packs did bump the little ship. Close to midnight, the thickening fog forced Pardo to reduce speed to only 3 knots and establish special lookouts. The temperature continued to drop, reaching 10°C below zero.

            The dawn on Wednesday was foggy until 05:00 hours, when a horizon of a mile became visible; Pardo now gave orders to sail at full speed. Although the Yelcho was sailing in very dangerous waters, because of the ice and the fog, Pardo decided to do the utmost to reach the camp of the Englishmen before dark.

            Meanwhile, on Elephant Island, almost five months after the departure of the James Caird, the situation had become desperate. Their store of food was almost exhausted, and although they had managed to supplement it by killing seals and penguins, they had only four days of food left.

            Piloting his ship with utmost care, Pardo managed to get close to the island. Lookouts were increased to warn of approaching floes. At 08:00 the first small ones were encountered, and at 09:30 the big icebergs. About half past ten the first breakwaters of the island became visible and two hours later they reached Elephant Island.

            In the camp, Frank Wild was serving a hoosh, a soup made with seaweed and limpets. Then, George Marston, the expedition's artist, gave the alarm: "Wild, we saw a ship!" he cried, "Do we light a fire?"

            The men rushed out of the improvised shelter they had made with the overturned boats, and were surprised to see the small ship flying the Chilean flag. The Yelcho continued rounding the island, making her way among the floating ice, in low fog, with a visible horizon of only a mile or so. The entire crew was on deck looking for the stranded men. They finally spotted them in a hollow bounded by a glacier on one side and snowy peaks on the other. The ship approached the coast and stopped at a distance of 150 meters and Pardo sent a boat to land, with Shackleton, Crean and two Chilean sailors.

            The stranded explorers received them with indescribable joy. The boat made two trips to take aboard the men and a few belongings. Within an hour, all were aboard.

            This is how pilot Aguirre Leon recorded the rescue in the logbook of the Yelcho:

"The large boat was launched, manned by four men, including Shackleton and Crean. They go to the island and return 15 minutes later with twelve of the castaways. Before arriving, Sir Ernest informs that his people are safe and the crew answers with hurrahs, replied by the castaways with great cheers to Chile, the Yelcho and the Commander [Pardo]. Great joy and excitement is noted among the castaways. The boat returns to the land and brings the rest of the men, returning at 1:25 PM. "[My translation, L.Z..


            At 14:25 hours the ship sailed off to the north. It was still foggy. The wind was soft and the sky clear. At 21:00 hours they got out of the dangerous zone, still inside the fog bank, with high barometer and low temperature. The weather, however, soon became worse.

            Pilot Luis Pardo and his men had written a brilliant page in the history of the Chilean Navy, rescuing the 22 British explorers in the middle of the Arctic winter, sailing on a small vessel totally unfit for the task.

            After a difficult journey back in bad weather, the Yelcho arrived at Punta Arenas on Monday, September 4. The city had experienced Shackleton's tragedy and lived in anguish for the fate of the small rescue ship. Lacking a radio, nothing had been known of her fate until a day earlier. The enthusiasm of the people was imaginable.

            From Punta Arenas, Shackleton sent a radiogram to Admiral Muñoz Hurtado: "It is impossible to express my deepest feelings of gratitude for everything that has been done for us. I write. Shackleton". The Admiral answered: "Please receive sincere congratulations for the happy end of the enterprise wholly owing to your steadfastness and determination. The Chilean Navy has received the news of the rescue of the English sailors as if they had been our own people. Muñoz Hurtado". [8]

            Pardo submitted a report to the Commander of the Magallanes Naval Station, in the following terms:


"I have the honour of reporting to you the mission performed by this ship to Elephant Island, to rescue the castaways of the Shackleton Expedition.

On Friday at 12.15 A.M. she cast off in the direction of Picton [island], taking at dawn the Magdalena channel and other passages until dropping anchor safely at 5 P.M. of the same evening in Puerto Burno.

We continued travel on Saturday at 6.30 A.M. with good weather, anchoring safely at 5 P.M. in Ushuaia.

At the port, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his company were very well received and they returned aboard well satisfied.

On Sunday at 6.30 I weighed anchor and sailed to Picton Island, where we anchored safely at 11.15 A.M.

A Guard and crew were sent to land and the coaling work started immediately; I loaded three hundred bags, the bunkers were full and the rest remained on deck.

At 3.30 this work ended and I immediately set off to the high seas, because the weather was fine and the barometer held very high and steady.

On Monday we sailed without incident, at a steady ten miles. The weather was optimum, the barometer continued to be high and a fresh wind [blew] from the SW.

At noon, the corresponding astronomical measurements were made, continuing travel without change of course. The night was starry and the horizon rather clear, the barometer held above 762 and the temperature was 3 degrees, with SE current.

Navigation continued on Tuesday with the same conditions as in the previous day; after making the astronomical observations it was proven there was no need to alter course.

The temperature dropped gradually until midnight, from 9 to 10 degrees below zero. The current continued in the same direction. At 5 P.M. we entered the dangerous zone of fogs, which are generally continuous, because although they are permanent in this region they run following the direction of the wind, leaving always some minutes of clarity by which the horizon becomes more visible at 2 or 5 miles.

At 11.30 P.M. the fog was thick and constant, so speed had to be reduced to three miles; this continued in the same conditions until 5 P.M. of Wednesday, when the fog was less thick and left visible a horizon of one mile, in which case I put the engine at full speed.

Although we were in the dangerous zone, both by the known reefs and shoals, and the fog or floes, I preferred to continue sailing in the same way considering this to be less dangerous than being unable to reach the island camp during the day, when the night would have fallen upon us disorienting us.

At 8 A.M. we found the first ice floes, at 9.30 A.M. [we were] in the area of big ice floes and at 10.40 A.M. we discovered the first breakers of the northern tip of Elephant Island. At 11.10 A.M. the Seal-Rocks were recognized at a distance of approximately 2.5 miles.

Lookouts were stationed all around the ship to warn in good time about big ice floes which could be discerned in the shape of blackish fog with double height aft of the ship and on her side. They were seen this way because of the combination of fog and solar refraction.

We continued rounding the island in this manner until 1.30 P.M., a time when, to the great joy of all, the castaways could be seen, situated in a hollow, having a great and impressive glacier on one side, and high snowy peaks on the other, very characteristic of this island.

When approaching the indicated point, we could hear the manifestations of joy and the hurrahs of these castaways.

A skiff was sent to land, commanded by Sir Ernest Shackleton, who was received with great cheers of jubilation. When returning, the first boat carried one half of the people and some bundles; they hailed Chile and its Government.

The second boat sent for the remaining people did the same.

At 2.25 all the men were on board and the boat was hoisted, setting off to the north.

At 4 P.M. we had Seal-Rocks at a quarter, and at 9 P.M. we came out of the dangerous zone, always with fog, high barometer and low temperature.

On Thursday ay 8 P.M. the wind changed to NW and the barometer started to drop; during the night the sea became heavy and the weather worsened, which quite bothered us and this continued until we reached the Strait [of Magellan].

On Friday the fog prevented us from entering the Beagle Channel, so I decided to continue traveling to take the Strait.

On Saturday, at 6 P.M. we sighted the Dungenes and Virgenes lighthouse. I set course to Dungenes in order to communicate our arrival. Once we were near, I saw it was impossible to send a boat to the land owing to the strong wind from W and the heavy sea, so that I continued sailing, anchoring safely at Rio Seco, at 4 P.M. on Sunday; from there, I announced to you our safe arrival, bringing safely the 22 castaways.

            At 10.30, I cast off in this direction [i.e. Punta Arenas], dropping anchor safely in this Port at 11.30.

May I report to you that this mission was completed with happy results, owing to the efficient cooperation of the officers who accompanied me, the accountant, who cooperated with enthusiasm in order to take care properly of the 29 persons housed in the officers' quarters, whose care was difficult because of the little comfort; and the same can be said of the machinist who was at his post at all times and fulfilled faithfully the orders given to him.

With respect to the crew, who was mostly from the Yañez, and who had come voluntarily, their enthusiasm and zeal in serving is worthy of praise and they are entitled to the commendation of their superiors.

I end this report with a list of the 25 castaways of the Expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton. I salute you, Commander in Chief of the Magallanes Naval Station. (Signed L. A. Pardo, Commander of the Yelcho tugboat)


I shall not copy here the list of members of the Shackleton Expedition, or the list of crewmen of the Yelcho, attached to Pardo's report, since they are not important for this paper. My purpose in translating the full text of Pardo's report is to correct a historical injustice. For some unknown reason, in his book recounting the Antarctic Expedition with the Endurance, its shipwreck and the rescue operation, Sir Ernest Shackleton practically ignored the role played by Pilot Luis Pardo. In the 368 pages of his book, Pardo's name appears only once, on page xix of the Preface, with the briefest of references: "Finally, it was the Chilean Government that was directly responsible for the rescue of my comrades…. I especially mention the sympathetic attitude of Admiral Muñoz Hurtado, head of the Chilean Navy, and Captain Luis Pardo, who commanded the Yelcho in our last and successful venture".

Here he recognizes that Pardo was in command; however, in his description of the Yelcho's valiant journey to Elephant Island and back, (pp. 210-222), Shackleton makes it appear as if he had been in command of the ship, when in fact he had been a passenger. Pardo is never mentioned. This omission is unfortunate, because it has led to his role being ignored by other authors. We owe our Brother Luis Pardo the recognition he justly deserves. As for the reason for Bro. Shackleton's omission, we can only speculate. It is possible that, used as he was to command every ship on which he traveled, this led to clashes with Pardo regarding the handling of the ship. Chilean navy men are very proud of their seamanship – as can be judged form the letter Pardo sent to his father – and we can safely assume that any attempt by Shackleton to impose his views would have been met with courteous but total refusal. The fact that Pardo did not speak English must also contributed to   [9]. We must not dwell on this matter, on which we have no material evidence to examine, and must only confer on our Brother Luis A. Pardo the honor and admiration to which he is fully entitled.

The Chilean Navy also allowed the Yelcho to take the British explorers to Valparaiso, where they arrived on September 27 and were received with full honours. All the naval ships formed their crew on deck, saluting the Yelcho, which came to her berth surrounded by a multitude of small vessels, while whistles and sirens made a deafening sound reflected by the hills that encircle the bay. Shackleton wrote: "Everything that could swim in the way of a boat was out to meet us" [10]

As soon as the news of the successful rescue operation became known in Valparaiso, and the fact that Shackleton was going to come to that city, the brethren of the local English lodge, Lodge of Harmony N° 1411, decided to invite him to visit the lodge, sending the following telegram to Punta Arenas:


"September 7, 1917.

Hearty congratulations from all fraternity Valparaiso. We hear you are coming our way and should like to meet you in a body. Advise likely date arrival and will arrange special meeting. Reply Smith, Bolsa Corredores, Valparaiso"


W. H. Smith was the Worshipful Master of the lodge, and he worked at the local stock exchange (the "Bolsa de Corredores").

Shackleton, however, courteously declined the invitation, sending the following reply on September 9:


"Much appreciate fraternal greetings and congratulations. Hope to see you in Valparaiso but fear impossible attend meeting owing short stay. Shackleton"


Smith insisted. The same day he sent another message which, again, was met with a reiterated refusal.

On the next regular meeting of the Lodge of Harmony, on September 12, the Worshipful Master reported to the assembly the exchange of telegrams with Shackleton and the Secretary read out the messages. Although not recorded in the Minutes, evidently there was a sense in the Lodge that further attempts should be made to welcome the heroic explorer.

In fact, W. Bro. Smith invited Shackleton again, and the explorer finally relented, and sent the following telegram on Saturday, September 23:


"Esperamos llegar martes pudiera ser posible que atendiera reunion en el curso de la semana. (signed) Shackleton).                 

[Translation: we hope to arrive Tuesday possibly could attend meeting in the course of the week]

Having received Shakleton's approval, W:. Bro:. Smith set the following Saturday as the best date for the meeting, which would allow most brothers to be present.

On September 28, a formal invitation was sent to Brother Luis Pardo and we can assume that similar letters were sent to all the Brethren of the lodge and to sister lodges as well:


"Dear Brother,

By order of the Worshipful master of this Worshipful Lodge, may I communicate to you that on Saturday 30, inst. a special meeting will be held in our temple in order to give a Masonic welcome to Dear Brother Sir Ernest Shackleton, and we would be extremely pleased to see you among us on this occasion. The meeting will start at 5 in the afternoon and it will last one and a half hours, approximately, and if you will be able to attend, a most cordial reception awaits you.

With fraternal greetings,

            (signed) W. M. Smith                            A. Leslie Bowes

            Wor. Master, N° 1411                         Secretary, N° 1411

To: Dear Brother Luis Pardo




And so, on Saturday, September 30,  the Masonic heroes of the Arctic adventure were welcomed by the Lodge of Harmony N° 1411, which held an "Emergency Meeting" in the Masonic Temple on Tubildad street (at present Wagner Street). Some parts of the minutes of that meeting were published in a Chilean Masonic publication [11], but thanks to the assistance of Bro. Gastón Tagle Ortega, I have been able to obtain the full text of the minutes, which I transcribe here, following as closely as possible the original text, without making any corrections:


"Minutes of the Emergency Meeting of the Lodge of Harmony N° 1411 held at the Lodge Room, Calle [Street] Tubildad, Valparaiso, on Saturday, thirtieth day of September one thousand nine hundred and sixteen, for the purpose of welcoming Bro. Sir Ernest Shackleton on his return from the South Polar Expedition.

The W:. M:. having taken his seat in the E:. and the BB:. having assembled as per R:., the L:. [here and elsewhere, the Secretary draws a rectangle in lieu of the three dots] was O:. in the F:. D:. at 5:15 p.m.

A report was heard, and Bro. Luis Pardo (who commanded the ship which effected the rescue of the expedition) was found to be waiting and was admitted. Bros. Frank Wild and Dr. A. McIlroy (members of the expedition) were then received into the L:., and finally the guest of honor, Bro:. Sir Ernest Shackleton, who was conducted to the E:. and placed at the right of the W:. M:.

The W:. M:. stated that the exploits of our distinguished visitor were too well known to require repetition on this occasion; Bro:. Shackleton, by his sacrifices to science, had already covered himself with glory, and at that moment the whole world was prolific in its admiration for his indomitable perseverance and untiring efforts to bring about the (rescue-erased) salvation of the twenty-two members of the expedition who had remained on Elephant Island, with the happy results known to all. Freemasons the world over rejoiced at the successful termination of Bro. Shackleton's endeavors, and were proud to belong to the Craft having amongst its members men of such tenacity and worth. The W:. M:. was consequently proud in the extreme to be able to welcome Bro. Shackleton in our midst, which he did in the most cordial manner possible, firstly in the name of our G. G. M. and the officers of the D. G. L.; secondly, in the name of the Lodge of Harmony and of the two other English-speaking L:. of the locality, "Star & Thistle" and "Bethesda", and finally in the names of the three Chilean L:. "Progreso" N° 4, "Aurora" N° 6 and "Independencia" N° 38.

The circumstances of Bro. Shackleton's visit to our L:. would long remain in the memory of Valparaiso masons, and the W:. M:. requested the D:. C:. to call upon the BB:. to salute this distinguished B:. as masons to mark the esteem in which he was held by all. The salutation was rendered in due form.

Continuing, the W:.M:. stated that it was very gratifying to know that on this great scientific undertaking, Bro. Sir Ernest Shackleton was accompanied by two other members of our Craft who were present with us this afternoon – Bro.s Frank Wild and Dr. A. McIlroy, the former of these BB:. was in command of that part of  the expedition which remained on Elephant Island , and the unshaken confidence with which both had fulfilled their duties while awaiting rescue proved that they knew the meaning of Fidelity. These two BB:. were indeed ornaments to the Craft, and the W:. M:. requested the D:. C:. to call upon the BB:. to show their esteem by saluting them as Masons, which was done in due form.

The W:. M:. concluded by saying that no reference to the rescue of Bro. Sir Ernest Shackleton's party would be complete without mention being made of Bro. Luis Pardo, who was also present with us this afternoon; this Bro., regardless of the risk, had in a true masonic spirit undertaken to proceed on the dangerous enterprise, and the W:. M:. called upon Bro. Barne to express to Bro. Pardo in his own language how English masons appreciated his action.

The following telegrams were then read – From Lodge Progress, Antofagasta, reading thus:

"The Brethren of Lodge Progress beg of you to convey to Bros. Shackleton and Pardo their fraternal greetings and hearty congratulations on the escape of Bro. Shackleton's party from the Polar Regions through the valiant effort of Bro. Pardo and his gallant crew. The brave work done by Shackleton the fearless for geographical survey in a treacherous region is further honour and glory to our beloved Empire and has earned for him even greater admiration from all Englishmen, while every Freemason is proud to call him by the sacred title of Brother (signed) T. W. Hamilton Jones, Master".

Telegram from L:. Pioneer N° 643 (Iquique), reading: "On behalf of L:. Pioneer N° 643 kindly convey to Bros. Pardo, Shackleton and party our congratulations on successful termination of glorious enterprise and our fraternal wishes for their future happiness and welfare. (signed) W.M. Wilson, Master".

Telegram from Huelen Lodge, Santiago, reading: "District Grand Master , officers and brethren Huelen Lodge Santiago send hearty good wishes Sir Ernest Shackleton , companions and L:. Harmony.

(Signed) Leeson, Huelen L:. Santiago".

Telegram from Bros. Diener, Russell, Senior, Johnson and White (Santiago), reading: "Regret unable to be with you today – we send our most hearty good wishes to Sir Ernest Shackleton, companions and yourselves.

(Signed) Diener, Russell, Senior, Johnson, White".

Telegram from L:. Fraternidad y Progreso (Iquique), reading: "Logia Fraternidad Progreso felicita hermano Shackleton y demas hermanos comitiva por su abnegacion amor ciencias y hermano Pardo por haber contribuido con su valor a salvar expedicionarios. Nuestra orden se enorgullece de contra entre sus filas con hermanos que saben cumplir con su deber. (signed) Fournies, Venerable Maestro".

[Translation: Lodge Fraternidad Progreso congratulates brother Shackleton and other brothers in entourage for their abnegation love sciences and brother Pardo for having contributed with his bravery to save expedition members. Our order is proud of having among its members brethren who know how to fulfill their duty. Signed: Fournies, Worshipful master]

            Telegram from L:. Bilbao N° 23. "Nombre logia Bilbao 23 felicito hermanos Shackleton Pardo y demás comitiva por feliz arribo costas de Chile y heroismo regiones polares. Hermanos L:. Bilbao admiran valientes e intrépidos marinos y envíales un fraternal saludo deseándoles grata permanencia nuestro país (signed) Rojas, Venerable Maestro".

            [Translation: I congratulate brothers Shackleton Pardo and rest entourage for happy arrival coast of Chile and heroism polar regions. Brethren Bilbao Lodge admire brave and fearless seamen sending them fraternal greeting wishing them pleasant stay our country (signed) Rojas, Worshipful Master]


[As you must be aware, the cost of a telegram in those days was rather high, and the charge was per word, so senders wrote in "telegraphic" language]


            A letter was read from the R:. W:. D:. G:. M:., G:. L:. of Mass. Chile Dist. , regretting his inability to be present owing to Masonic duties in Santiago, and conveying fraternal greetings to all present, , more particularly to the honoured guests.

            Bro. Marin of L:. Aurora N° 6 read an address of welcome to Bro. Sir Ernest Shackleton and his companions in the name of the three Chilean lodges.

            In rising to return thanks for the welcome accorded to him and his companions, Bro. Sir Ernest Shackleton stated that this was the first L:. he had attended since he started on his expedition over two years ago; he appreciated very deeply the words of the W:. M:. and would conserve a very warm memory of his return to the Masonic world, of which he would be happy to give an account to his mother L:. on his arrival home. Bro. Shackleton spoke in the highest terms of praise of the invaluable support rendered him by Bros. Frank Wild and Dr. A. McIlroy; on an expedition such as the one he had undertaken, peculiar situations frequently made unusual demands on the judgment of those in command, and no leader was independent of the advise and cooperation of his companions, but these two BB:. had risen to every eventuality, and had been a never failing source of help and counsel, and in the darker moments, when the prospect was not cheerful, it had been a matter of great comfort to him to know that over and above the spirit of unity inherent to such an expedition, he was cemented to these BB:. by the unbreakable bonds of our Masonic order. Finally, it had caused Bro. Shackleton intense satisfaction to find that Bro. Pardo, who had cooperated so efficiently in the salvation of the expedition, was also a Freemason.

            Bro. Shackleton concluded by reiterating his thanks for the welcome accorded him, and regretting that his visit to the L:. was such a short one.

            The L:. was then called off for R:.  On resuming labour, the W:. M:. tendered his thanks to al the visiting BB:. for their kind assistance . The Poor Bag was circulated and realized the sum of $150.15 [Chilean pesos].

            The L:. was then C:. in D:. and A:. F:. P:. and H:. P:.

            (signed) W. M. Smith                            A. Leslie Bowes

                        W:. M:.                                     Secretary



The attendance book of Lodge of Harmony for that day shows on the edge of the third page the signatures of Frank Wild, Second-in-Command (eighth signature from the top), Dr. McIlroy, physician (the signature below), Sir Ernest Shackleton (fifth signature below McIlroy's)  and Pilot Luis A. Pardo (third signature from the bottom).  [12]   

The meeting was attended by 44 members of the Lodge and 85 visitors.

Two days after the Lodge of Harmony meeting, on October 2, the protagonists of the rescue were received in a Special Communication by Huelén Lodge [13] of Santiago. The festive lodge meeting was chaired by R.W. Bro. D. Urquhart, D.D.G.M.  [14]

The three Spanish-speaking lodges in Valparaiso, Progreso N° 4, Aurora N° 6 and Independencia N° 38, also wanted to honor Bro. Luis A. Pardo at a special joint meeting scheduled for Saturday, October 7, but that meeting had to be cancelled, because Bro. Pardo was ordered by the Naval Command to take the Yelcho to the Talcahuano dry-dock for repairs, and had to leave immediately.

            Pardo's brilliant navigation was rewarded by being promoted to First Pilot. A special mention of merit was recorded in his curriculum. In addition, he was awarded ten years of service, valid for retirement. Our Brother received medals from the Municipality of Punta Arenas, the Lifeboat Corps of Valparaiso, the Chilean Society of History and Geography, the Maritime League of Chile, and the Patriotic League of Chile. It is reported that he courteously rejected a gift of 25,000 pounds sterling – a huge sum at the time – offered by the British Government, claiming he, as a seaman, had only fulfilled his duty. After retiring from the Navy, the Chilean Government appointed him Consul of Chile in Liverpool, serving in that post between 1930 and 1934. He died in 1935, at the age of 54.  [15]

            Brother Sir Ernest Shackleton was awarded a special gold medal by the Royal Geographic Society. He was also granted a cash prize of 20,000 pounds. In 1909 he published a work entitled "The Heart of the Antarctic" and in 1919, "South – the story of Shackleton's last expedition".

            In 1921 a school friend, John Q. Rowett, financed a new expedition with the Quest, a rather rundown ship. Apparently, Shackleton's intention was to circumnavigate Antarctica searching for Captain Kidd's treasure. On January 4, 1922, the Quest arrived at Grytviken, in South Georgia. The Norwegian sailors received him warmly. After a quiet day on land, the explorer returned to his ship to have supper, wished good night to his friends and retired to his cabin. During the night he suffered a massive heart attack and passed away. He was 47 years old. His wife requested that he be buried in South Georgia, where his body still rests, among the graves of those whalers who, perhaps, were the ones most capable of appreciating the courage, resolution and fidelity of Sir Ernest Shackleton, hero of the Antarctic.



[1]  Masonic Service Association of North America, EMESSAY Notes, July 2002.


[2] "The Original Endurance and Sir Ernest Shackleton",



[3] Sir Ernest Shackleton, South, William Heinemann, 1919; reprinted by The Lyons Press, Guilford, Connecticut, 1998, pp. 75-76.


[4]  Wild's biography can be found in www.visitandlearn.co.uk/factfiles/obit27.asp


[6]  Communicated by Antonio González C. Secretary of Independencia Lodge N° 38 to the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Chile, Juan J. Oyarzún, on September 30, 2004.


[7]  Letter of Luis A. Pardo to his father, dated August 23, 1916. Family records. Quoted by Gastón Tagle Orellana, ibid. (My translation, L.Z.)


[8]  Alfonso M. Filippi Parada, Navy Captain, "Shackleton versus Pardo",



[9]  This is proven by the fact that, as we shall see later, the message of welcome and congratulations during the lodge meeting had to be translated into Spanish.


[10]  HMS Endurance Tracking Project, Endurance Obituaries, "The S.S. Yelcho", www.visitandlearn.co.uk/factfiles/obit30.asp


[11]  Francisco Sohr, "Shackleton y el Piloto Pardo honran a la Orden", Revista Masónica de Chile, 1-2 March-April 1991.


[12]  For further biographic information on Frank Wild, see the site of the Journal of Maritime Research:



[13]  A lodge founded in 1877 under charter of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, with special dispensation of the Grand Lodge of Chile. Massachusetts lodges are not numbered.


[14]  Richthofen Carrasco, "History of Huelen Lodge", www.geocities.com/huelenlodge/history.html.


[15]  "Shackleton in Punta Arenas", www.patbrit.com/eng/Shackleton/PardoYelcho. html