On 9th April, as the ice thawed, Shackleton and his men hastily abandoned all non-essential supplies and took to the three lifeboats, which Shackleton christened the James Caird, the Dudley Docker and the Stancomb Wills, after the expedition’s sponsors. After a voyage fraught with peril and in appalling icy conditions they arrived at the desolate Elephant Island six days later, on l5th April. It was the first time they had set foot on land since leaving South Georgia nearly a year and a half previously.
Yet the joy at setting foot on Elephant Island was tempered by the grim fact that there was no chance of rescue. No ships passed that way. No radio at that time was capable of summoning help.