John Franklin Polar Expedition: 160 Years In Mystery And Fog

John Franklin Polar Expedition: May 19, 1845; Two ships, Erebus and Terror, were slowly lifting anchor from the port of Greenhead. Under Sir John Franklin, 128 experienced sailors joined the expedition to find a new route from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. No one has a clear idea of ​​where this journey, which started from the river Thames, will end. Still, everyone is excited about going out on a voyage with a captain like Franklin.

John Franklin Polar Expedition

John Franklin Polar Expedition

The voyage was originally to discover a new way to connect the earth’s northwest passage by sea. Ignoring the extreme cold and danger, no one has come forward to discover this path before. Experienced Sir John Franklin, the protagonist of many successful expeditions, prepared for the expedition only after long-term planning, selection of good quality ships, selection of qualified sailors, and procurement of supplies for the last three years.

This ambitious expedition went well at first. Sir John Franklin and his team arrived in Greenland on July 4, about a month and a half after leaving Greenheath. It took a little longer to get there by the stormy sea, but they were in a good mood. This was indicated in the letter sent by the sailors and officers. The letters, dated July 12, were the last letters from Franklin expedition members to their families. On the 29th or 31st of the same month, a group of whale hunters spotted them advancing in the Baffin Bay, then suddenly two ships and a hundred sailors disappeared.

Exact information about what happened next with Franklin and his expedition sailors is not available. However, according to various sources, the Franklin expedition was forced to spend the winter of 1845 on the polar island of Beech, as it was no longer possible to navigate the sea because of the extreme cold. Three sailors died while on the island and were buried there. Finally, in the summer of 1846, when the ice melted and the seaplanes became suitable for navigation, Erebus and Terror began their journey again.

Polar Expeditions

Franklin’s lost expedition

Sir John Franklin died on June 11, 1847, at the age of 61, during the expedition. Fighting hostile weather and adversity, members of the expedition were stranded near King William Island in April 1848. After being there for a long time and not seeing any sign of liberation, they began to become mentally weak. At the same time, the amount of juice stored gradually starts to decrease.

On April 25, 1848, the sailors left the ship and landed at King William Island. By that time, 9 officers and 15 seamen of the main team had died due to various reasons. This information is found in a note recovered from the ship. It was also mentioned in the note that they would try to get out of the nearby Beck River on the basis of conjecture. However, there is no clear evidence of what happened in the end.

About six years after the start of the operation, Lady Franklin arranged for a rescue operation to find Franklin and his companions, as no information was forthcoming. McClure and Collinson led two expeditions in 1851 and 1852. However, their own expedition was not very pleasant. They themselves face various adversities and remain missing for a long time.

Nine years after the original campaign, no news has come from Franklin and his team. None of the 13 rescue teams that went out to search for them succeeded. Inevitably, it was announced on January 20, 1854: If no trace of the Franklin expedition was found by March 31 of that year, everyone on the expedition would be declared dead. Franklin somehow managed to return to England after failing to find the adventurers on the voyage. Collinson and McClure were rescued in 1854.

According to the information obtained from these expeditions, Franklin and his companions all died and many of the sailors eventually turned into cannibals in order to survive the war of life. However, the family of the sailors or the society of that time could not accept this information. In 1857, Franklin’s second wife, Lady Jane Franklin, again organized rescue operations. Under the supervision of Francis Leopold McClintock, the expedition was able to reach King William Island, south and west of Lancaster Sound.

The first partial search of Franklin’s ship took place in 1859. However, it is not the wreckage of the Erebus or Terror ship, but a small whaleboat found. It is considered to be one of the ships of the Franklin expedition. However, it was not possible to gather any significant data from this discovery. Therefore, it could not be ascertained whether the boat was getting off the ship and going to someplace or returning to the ship after collecting information from someplace. In addition to the skeletons of two unfortunate sailors, there were plenty of books and chocolates in the boat.

Franklin’s Lost Expedition

From 1860 to ’63 the American explorer Charles Francis Hall, in 1879 Frederick Schwartz, and in 1930 the Canadian government conducted expeditions to find the remains of Franklin’s expedition. Among the items recovered during these isolated raids were an abandoned tent and two remains found on the island. Among the personal belongings in the camp were several letters. Some of which were written in reverse, and some were written in sign language. Other rescuers claim to have found the stone, which was found by Franklin’s expedition team, according to another group – they found some old skeletons.

Talking to the locals, the explorers also demanded to collect various information. The descriptions of these inhabitants show that many of their predecessors had seen two large ships stuck in the ice near the island. These predecessors also helped others to bury the remains or bones of the dead sailors of those ships. But the real mystery remains elusive to all rescuers. And that is to find the wreckage of the ship Erebus or Terror, as well as to find out exactly what happened to these explorers.

This expedition to find one of the longest ships in history faltered as there was no success for a long time. But the issue came to the fore again in 1984-8, when some Canadian researchers found fragments of some of the oldest bodies on Beech Island. The expedition was resumed in Arebas Bay in 1992-93, where McClintock discovered the ship. In this large-scale operation, the team found the bones of many people buried together under a huge rock. It is thought that a team of 1878 American expeditioners collected all the bones found in the area and buried them under the rock.

However, the main reason for the discussion of these bones was the existence of lead poisoning found through modern tests and the cut marks of metal weapons on the bones. The fact that the sailors of this expedition had become cannibals many times over and over again was actually ignored, but this incident came to the fore again as a result of this new discovery. The argument of the party is that since the locals did not have metal tools or weapons, the sailors of the ship were the ones who ate the people and there were cut marks on the bones.

However, researchers say that the number of metal weapons that local tribesmen obtained from Captain John Ross may have been used to kill or injure people from other communities. And since not all of the bones recovered are human, Franklin’s expeditions are unlikely to have anything to do with them.

Another experiment with the same bone in 2015 claimed that the recovered bones may have been boiled in a few ovens. But contrary to this argument, it is argued that bones left behind for many years in the open may have gone through various changes in the oppression of nature. Due to this, after so many years, there is a possibility of wrong results in the test.

One of Franklin’s lost ships was finally discovered in 2014, after nearly 170 disappearances. In September of that year, an investigative team was able to find Erebus. Surprisingly, the ship was only 36 feet below the water! About three years after its discovery, the adventure Canada-chartered ship Ocean Endeavor was able to send people there for the first time. A couple of years after the discovery of the first ship, investigators were able to locate Franklin’s other ship, the Terror.

However, although it was possible to rescue the ship, it was not possible to solve all the mysteries. For example, the first thing that comes to mind is the position of the ship. HMS Terror was discovered about 60 miles south of the location mentioned in the 1848 documents. Erebus is found 30 miles further south. So did all the sailors leave the ship and go to land?

Did some sailors try their best to turn the ships around? Information from indigenous peoples in the nineteenth century adds to the confusion. Because, according to them, they had seen human signs in it even a few days before the sinking of Erebus. However, it may be that the ice caps on which the ships got stuck floated in the current and carried the ships away from their original position.

Exactly why the sailors on Franklin’s ship were forced to leave the ship, what caused the lead poisoning, what caused those who remained on the ship to stay, why they turned into man-eaters, or whether they became man-eaten at all remains unknown. . Maybe one day we will find suitable evidence in all these matters. Until then, the history of Franklin’s unfinished campaign will remain unfinished.

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