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Norman Mooney was officially appointed as cabin boy on board Quest on the 16th September 1921, the day before Quest left London, he signed a formal legal eight-page agreement (stamped sixpence) with Sir Ernest Shackleton. Mooney signed to say he would be subject to the commands of the captain as a general assistant in all matters and work connected to the expedition for a period of one year for the princely sum of £1 a week. The agreement goes into detail about the expected duties and states there would be no definitive hours of work. It even dictates that appropriate clothing and equipment will be provided by the Captain for the cold weather. It goes on to say that alcohol cannot be consumed without express permission. A notable clause in the contract also talks about Frank Wild taking command in the event of Shackleton’s death.

By all accounts it seems that Mooney was the quieter and more reserved of the two boys finally selected. Apparently, he had never left Orkney and had never even seen a train before he left for London. Whereas Sir Percy Everett described Marr as “a bluff, big-hearted fellow from Aberdeen.” Despite their different natures both boys were clearly up for the challenge. Apparently, they soon met up and visited each other’s houses.

It is also worthy of a brief mention that there was a third member of the Scout Association chosen to join the expedition. Mr J.C. Bee-Mason was a voluntary instructor at Gilwell Scout Headquarters, and he joined the Shackleton-Rowett expedition as the Official Photographer.

John Charles Mason had changed his surname to Bee-Mason because he was a filmmaker, explorer and naturalist noted for his early films on beekeeping. A quirky little Kindle Book entitled ‘The Life and Times of JC Bee-Mason’ by John Bray is really a sort of scrap book of clippings which give an insight into this eccentric character.
In the Kindle Book Bray describes Bee-Mason’s unusual career prior to the ‘Quest’ expedition:

As one of the pioneers of the commercial film Industry Bee-Mason had made The Bee’s Eviction in 1909 and directed The Life of the Honey Bee in 1911. By 1913 he was in the studios at Ealing to film Lupino Lane’s first film, Nipper’s Busy Bee Time. If all that was not enough he regularly did an act on the Music Halls on the same bill as Bransbury Williams covered in his beloved bees.

[Available on Amazon: Bray, John. Unedited – The Life and Times of J.C Bee-Mason MBE. Spinetinglers Publishing. Kindle Edition.]

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