Norman Erlend Mooney, Shackleton's “other” Boy Scout

Research paper by Ronald I. Lewis-Smith

Indexed on: 07 Aug '18Published on: 01 Mar '18Published in: The Polar record


In 1921, when Sir Ernest Shackleton was planning his circum-Antarctic expedition on the R.Y.S. Quest, he was eager to appoint a suitably qualified young person as a cabin boy or deck hand. He expressed great admiration for the Boy Scout Movement and its founder, Sir Robert Baden-Powell. Discussions between them led to Shackleton advertising for a Boy Scout to accompany him on the expedition, believing that the experience would greatly benefit the youngster's character, as well as providing much positive publicity for the expedition. He selected two young Scouts but, while much has been written about James Marr, no account has been written about the younger boy, Norman Mooney. This is because he was unable to cope with continuous seasickness and had to return home after only four weeks at sea. This account provides some little-known detail about Mooney and why he was selected, and about Shackleton's sensitive recruiting procedure.