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Case Study: Lawrence Oates

Lawrence Edward Grace Oates was born in Putney in 1880, and educated at Eton College. He saw military service during the Second Boer War, as an officer in the dragoons. He went down in history for his famous last words, "I am just going outside and may be some time."

In 1910, he applied to join an expedition to the South Pole, and was accepted on the strength of his experience with horses and his ability to make a financial contribution to the expedition. On the way back from the pole in March 1912, the party faced very difficult conditions. After the loss of one man, Oates became severely frostbitten and weakened more quickly than the others.

His slower progress coupled with the unwillingness of his three remaining companions to leave him behind caused the party to fall behind schedule. Eventually Oates, recognising the need to sacrifice himself in order to give the others a chance of survival, left the tent to die in the blizzard, saying: "I am just going outside and may be some time". However, it was too late, and the remaining men perished eleven miles short of their food depot. Oates's body has never been found.

When he was serving in the army, he was very likely to have been listed in an Army List. After checking the Army List for 1900, he was found on the 'Index to Officers on the Active List'.

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