A medal belonging to a Birmingham man who played a vital role in the fight for survival during one of the greatest polar adventures in the history of British exploration is to be auctioned off later this month.
The Polar Medal awarded to James McIlroy, who served as a surgeon with Sir Ernest Shackleton on the Endurance expedition of 1914 to 1917, is expected to fetch up to £8,000 at auctioneers Morton and Eden in London on July 18.
McIlroy was educated at Camp Hill Grammar School, Kings Heath and Birmingham University.
His father, also called James, was a shopkeeper and he and his wife Maggie and their four children - James, Esther, Ruby and Effie - lived in Grove Avenue, Kings Norton.
After completing his degree, McIlroy took up the post of house surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
He managed to join Shack-leton's trans-Antarctic expedition as second surgeon despite shaking from malaria at his interview after a spell working overseas.
The expedition ship Endurance became frozen into an icefloe in January, 1915.
Having salvaged boats, provisions and sledges from the ship, which finally sank on November 21, 1915, the 28-man crew found themselves in cracking ice 350 miles from the nearest land across frozen ocean.
In April, 1916, after an exhausting journey by sledge and boat - McIlroy was in the smallest and least seaworthy boat, the Stancomb Wills - they reached Elephant Island.
Form there, Shackleton and five hand-picked crew members set sail in the James Caird on a perilous voyage to summon help from South Georgia, 800 miles away.
McIlroy and fellow surgeon Alexander Macklin, known as Mick and Mack, stayed behind on Elephant Island to tend to the men and to their credit, and Shackleton's, they all survived. At least one man, Perce Blackborow who had joined Endurance as a stowaway, owed his life to a successful operation performed by McIlroy who, with minimal equipment and resources, amputated the gangrenous toes of his left foot.
Shackleton's party managed to cross South Georgia on foot to raise the alarm at a whaling station.
Back on Elephant Island, the remaining crew were rescued after camping beneath upturned boats for 102 days.
On returning home, McIlroy joined the Army and saw service in France before being wounded at Ypres in the First World War and invalided home.
When the war ended he eventually joined the P&O line, staying with the company for a number of years and eventually becoming its chief surgeon.
In 1922, he was invited to join Shackleton's Quest expedition as surgeon and during the Second World War he almost lost his life at sea when his ship was torpedoed off the coast of West Africa.
He was adrift in an open boat for five days before being rescued by a French ship and landed at Dakar in Senegal.
He was still a ship's surgeon in 1957, at the age of 78. He died ten years later in Cheam, Surrey. ..SUPL: