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Blue plaque unveiled for brave Antarctic explorer from Harlesden

PUBLISHED: 12:13 10 May 2016 | UPDATED: 13:25 11 May 2016

Victor Hayward's great nephews under the plaque: Peter Cundall the grandson of Victor's sister Beatrice, Robert Hayward grandson of his brother Leopold and Peter Hayward grandson of his eldest brother Frank.

Victor Hayward's great nephews under the plaque: Peter Cundall the grandson of Victor's sister Beatrice, Robert Hayward grandson of his brother Leopold and Peter Hayward grandson of his eldest brother Frank.

Archant

A blue plaque has been unveiled in Harlesden in honour of a brave Antarctic explorer who died 100 years ago while on an expedition.

Members of the Ross Sea party in 1914. Victor Hayward is in the back row, second from leftMembers of the Ross Sea party in 1914. Victor Hayward is in the back row, second from left

Family and friends gathered at the former home of Victor Hayward in Connaught Road, now owned by Genesis Housing, to unveil the plaque in his honour.

Mr Hayward was part of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-17 Imperial Trans-Antarctic expedition, and died during the attempt on May 8 May 1916 aged 28 as was reported in the Willesden Chronicle at the time.

The brave explorer, who had 12 siblings, was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal for his gallantry in saving the life and endeavouring to save the life of his team members.

Peter Hayward, one of three great nephews at the event which was attended by other relatives of the Shackleton expedition, said: “It was a brilliant day, the weather was amazing. I would like to thank Genesis Housing Association for fitting this plaque in honour of my great uncle and the families of Victor’s siblings who contributed to this. Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team set off on their Imperial-Trans Antarctic expedition in December 1913 and sadly Victor Hayward never returned. However, I am so proud to gather with family and friends to celebrate his bravery and commemorate his tremendous achievement.”

Victor Hayward as a nine-year-old at home in Connaught Road, standing on the right with his hand on his father's shoulderVictor Hayward as a nine-year-old at home in Connaught Road, standing on the right with his hand on his father's shoulder

Mr Hayward was engaged by Shackleton as a general assistant to the Ross Sea party, who laid depots of food and fuel for the main continental party on the ship Endurance.

He was one of the ten members of that team who were marooned when the Ross Sea party’s expedition ship Aurora broke from its McMurdo Sound moorings during a storm and was unable to return.

Covering more than 350 miles to fulfil their mission despite shortages of food, proper clothing and equipment, they hauled two sick men on sledges as the group suffered scurvy, hypothermia, severe frostbite and occasional snow blindness.

Mr Hayward disappeared on May 8 while walking across the frozen surface of McMurdo Sound in the hopes of reaching the expedition’s base at Cape Evans. His body was never found.

Victor Hayward's Albert and Polar Medals for his part in the Imperial Trans- Antartic Expedition 1914-1917Victor Hayward's Albert and Polar Medals for his part in the Imperial Trans- Antartic Expedition 1914-1917

Following the unveiling the group, which included Dawn Butler MP, had a reception at the Royal Oak Pub in Harlesden High Street.

The Labour MP for Brent Central said: “I’m honoured and delighted to be here today to celebrate a local hero of Brent and would love to see more of our heroes recognised in this way.”

Of Victor Hayward’s 12 siblings, only two families haven’t been traced. If you know of his brother Harold Frederick Hayward’s relatives and those of his sister Ethel Agnes Hayward please contact nathalie.raffray@archant.co.uk.

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