As his ship was sinking through the Antarctic pack-ice, Ernest Shackleton allowed each member of his expedition to take 2lbs of possessions with them as they abandoned ship. One exception was made; Shackleton saved Leonard Hussey's banjo saying, "We must have that banjo. It's vital mental medicine." So it proved; when Shackleton set off in a small boat to sail to South Georgia to get help, he left behind on Elephant Island twenty-two men.
They lived for months under an upturned boat and some old sails. Every Saturday the banjo-playing meteorologist mounted a concert.
He composed songs and whenever they caught a seal to eat brought out his banjo. He played, the men sang - and anger and depression were kept at bay. Leonard Hussey survived, as did his banjo, now in the National Maritime Museum, its skin marked with a dozen signatures of members of the failed expedition to the South Pole.