Duncan was a civilian shipwright from Dundee who helped build the Discovery and joined the expedition as an able bodied seaman when the ship was completed. He served as carpenter and in other construction projects (e.g., the Wind Mill) and sometimes as cook, and returned with the Morning after one year. His spelling is phonetic at best (or was it the typist’s?) so that proper names become an interesting puzzle as presented in this transcript. When at sea the journal reads much like a deck log but there is some more substance in the entries made ashore. Here are a few examples of his journal style:
p. 9: 1st January 1902. Run 127 miles. Lat 61º 14 South. Long 173º43 East New Year’s morning broke fine brining back memories of old turning my thoughts to My Dear Loved ones at Home, We being about 14000 miles from them and in Latitude where there has not been any ships for a century and I may say cut off from the civilized world but return as yet doubtful. Hooping for the best.
Moderate breeze Easterly no ice seen yet expecting to meet it any day. We now have daylight all the 24 hours.
p. 27: 3rd [June] Usual routine. I am working on stand for the Protectscope it’s a Camera for Photoing the Auroura Austrailiers, it expected to show up the sunset 14 days. The moon is nearly spent so we have total Darkness & will soon have the Darkest day hear. It will be cheerfull to know Half the Winter is gone.
p. 28: 10th [June] Fine quiet morning a splendid Aurora was showing & was changing its forms A few words about our Ship she look a splendid Picture laying frozen up in the Sea and Snow heaped all round her also the Winter Awning. Its been a great success. The Wind Mill is a complete failure as we had two daylight only it carried away afterwards, two much Sail asea for the Strong winds.
p. 31: 25th [June, Midwinter celebration] Hazzy morning 4 hand splicing wire one on the Man Ropes letter (?) others getting ice on board + 3 in house working. I am working on A Ice cylinder for the Captain He is to try experiaments The Royal Terror (?) is to be duly opened to night. At 7×30 P.M. Captain Scott and Officers are to attend 10 P.M. I have just returned from the Play and it was a good success. Mr Bucksige and Wild doing the leading parts. getting great applause from the Audance. Photo were after the Play by flash light 3 cheers being given for the Company and taken Mr Barnes, We made our way Home it being A dirty night drifting; snow & Managers Strong Wind all Carriages were engaged so I had to walk Home. My nose was slight frost bite & had to Rut it Getting on Board all Well (Temp) -25º.
p. 35: 27th [July] Fine morning I turned out 6 a.m. & had A 2 mile run on skies. its good for the appite & all hand are on deck after 9 oclock having about till 10×30 for the rounds. Captains Inspection. Service 10×45 mutton for Dinner. Its 12 months tomorrow since I bid my Dear Wife and Children Good By at Dundee Station. We have had lots of up & downs since that. Thank God my Health is good. Hooping the Dear ones at Home have had the same (Temp) -2º
3rd [August]: Sunday cleaning & clearing for Church its still blowing hard from S.E. & drift. We are all on the upper deck 9 a.m. waiting about until 10 x 45 & its very cold. The Captain being last in giving the sounds. All hands are Swearing at being kept in the Cold for 2 hours & it Blowing a Gale. (Temp) -25º. We are treated just As if we were Children. (Temp) – 23º.
p. 47: 8th [November] Beautifull fine morning. We dressed ship, there being a good breeze the Flags are flying beautifull. A silk Union Jack is Hoisted at Hut Point. This is the first time we have hoisted our Colours in the Antar[c]tic. Sports started after Lunch Taboggin Race was first & it caused some Fun. it was off a very steep slope. Me & Walker was on my one straped down & it run away from us & turned several summersaults so we lost the Race Next Event was Sledge pulling. A team Won on time The next was a Tug of War, and it was very well Contested. D & B teams won thare was an advantage in the Gound, I should say Ice. one side had more than the other & it held better. 2 Pulls to 1 Pull. We Adjurned and had a Cup of Tea, Next Event Slope running on Skies. This was very good & well contested Mr Sherton our Engineer Me & Walker running in Final. I got third Place. it’s a painting by Mr Wilson of Our Winter Quarters. I am very well with it. this finished the days sports. A Concert was held in Evening in the Ward Room Also some Line Light Views, by Dr Kett and Mr Stenton. The prizes were presented at the Consert by Mr Scott he being dressed as a Lady. Songs were Sung & Health to King Edward was Drank with A good glass of Whisky.