A POIGNANT letter written by the Berkshire-born widow of one of the men who died alongside Scott on his South Pole trek is expected to fetch up to �1,500 at auction this month - 100 years after the explorers perished on the ill-fated expedition.

The letter - dated February 23,1913 - is from Oriana Wilson, from Bradfield, whose husband was Dr Edward Wilson. It will go under the hammer at Bonhams in London on March 30 to mark the centenary of Scott's death.

The frozen bodies of Scott, Wilson and Henry 'Birdie' Bowers were found eight months after they died on the return journey. The search party which discovered them included Frederick John Hooper, the steward on the Terra Nova - the ship which took Scott and his team to the Antarctic.

In the moving letter to Mr Hooper, Mrs Wilson, who travelled to New Zealand in the hope her husband would be found alive, said: "In case I may not be able to see you before I leave New Zealand on March 6.

"I wish to thank you for the part you took in the finding of the tent with the three bodies in it. I am more grateful to you than I can say for that journey. I know on the ship.... how well you looked after him ....I shall always be grateful to you for all that you did for him in life."

Mrs Wilson, nee Souper, was a vicar's daughter who was born in 1876. She married Dr Wilson in 1901 and died 44 years later in her sixties.

Mr Hooper, who served in the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, kept the treasured letter and was a technical adviser of the 1948 film, Scott Of The Antarctic. He died in June, 1955, aged 64.