John Robert Francis Wild was born on 10th April 1873 in Skelton-in-Cleveland, North Yorkshire, son to Benjamin and Mary Wild. Frank spent his childhood in Eversholt where his father was the local schoolmaster. His mother, Mary, whose maiden name was Cook, may have been descended from the explorer, James Cook.
At the age of 16 Frank went to sea in the merchant navy, transferring to the Royal Navy in 1900. In 1901 he was accepted as a volunteer for the 1901-4 National Antarctic Expedition of Robert Francis Scott on the ship Discovery. He was second in command to Shackleton on the Quest Expedition and took over command when Shackleton died of a heart attack.
Overall he took part in five expeditions to the Antarctic between 1901 and 1922, for which he was awarded the Polar Medal with 4 bars. His five expeditions were:- Scott's Discovery Expedition, Shackleton's Nimrod, Endurance and Quest Expeditions and Mawson's expedition of 1911-14. He had Cape Wild, Mount Wild and Point Wild named in his honour.
He died in poverty in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, South Africa on 19th August 1939, aged 65.
A memorial plaque commemorating him was unveiled on Sunday 16th December 1973 by the Bishop of St Albans, the Right Rev. Robert Runcie in Eversholt parish church, St. John the Baptist. The wording on the plaque is:-
"In loving memory of Commander Frank Wild RNVR, CBE, FRGS of this parish, freeman of the City of London, Antarctic Explorer who accompanied Scott, Shackleton and Mawson on five South Pole Expeditions between 1901 and 1922."
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- The Times Obituary, August 21st 1939
- Times and Citizen, Friday 3rd February 2006
- Bedford Record, 25th December 1973
- Ampthill News, 13th November 1973
Frank Wild, by Central Bedfordshire Libraries, 2011
Page last updated: 28th January 2014