The Story

Sir John Franklin commanded an expedition into the arctic region atempting to find a route
through the islands - the northwest passage. Long time this way was searched for.
The two Ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror leaved London on the 19.May 1845.
Last Time they were seen by a whaler in July in Baffin Bay.

After two Years without any sign of them, the first try for a rescue operation was started.
On Land the old friend of Franklin, Sir Dr. John Richardson searched in the North of Canada.
Then John Rae from the Hudson-Bay Company followed him, - without success.

In 1848 two ships were sent to Baffin, the HMS Enterprise and the HMS Investigator.
The Captains James Clarke Ross, a friend of Franklins second Man (Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier),
and Cpt. Bird with the Offizers McClintock and McClure wintered at Leopoldshafen and searched
next spring in the region arround Sommerset Island.
They turned back and arrived England in September 1849.

The next Expedition started in the next year. Two ships started to the Pacific with the Order
to find a way from the Bering Strait in the west. Under the Command of Sir Richard Collinson
the HMS Enterprise and the HMS Investigator (with Captain McClure) reached the Pacific.
Then they were parted, because of the different speed of the two ships.

MccClure choosed a shorter way through the Aleutians, and so entered the Prince of Wales Street
and then the Melville Sound yet in autumn 1850. And so found the last Part of the North West passage.
Because Collinson on the Enterprise arrounded the Aleutians, he came to late into the Pack Ice,
so that he had to turn back. He decided to go back to HongKong for the winter. So began the
differences between Collinson and his Officers, which resented his desicions.
And this problems occured throughout the whole voyage, that later all Officers were arrested.

In 1851 he came also to the Price of Wales Street, - while McClure arrounded the Banks-Island
and reached his (last) winter-quater Mercy-Bay. While the Investigator was beset the next two years
Collinson could get more eastwards through Doplhin/Union-Strait and Dease-Strait. There he spent his next winter.
On one of his Sledge-journeys one piece of dameged wood was found, possible a fragment of Franklinīs Ship.
Thus he came 45 km nearby the place, where the relics lied, but cause he found a Note from John Rae,
who passed this point two years earlier, and the dwindling provisions, he decided to turn back.

From the eastern side 1850 Sir Horatio Thomas Austin directed four Ships into Lancaster Channel.
The Flagship HMS Resolute, the HMS Assistance and the two Steamer HMS Intrepid and HMS Pioneer.
Other Ships also arrived, so the old Friend of Franklin, - Sir John Ross, who fighted like he in
the Battle of Trafalgar, or the private Ships of Lady Franklin with Captain William Penny.

On 25 August 1850 Ommaney from the Assistance found the first traces from the Franklin-Expedition
on Beechey Island. Many relics where found there from a winter-quater in the year 1845/46 and also
three graves on the Headland nearby.
In many sledge parties they explored Prince of Wales Island, Melville Island,
and the west-side of Sommerset Island, Penny turned to the north into Wellington channel.

In the communication between Austin and Penny there sprang up many differences, so both detained
to turn back to England, where both had to explain their early return and the differences between them
to a committee of inquiry.

The next try started Sir Edward Belcher with the same Ships. His second was Sir Henry Kellett,
who came back from the pacific. Again they explores many unknown Land, Belcher with the Ships
HMS Assistance and HMS Pioneer searched in the northern region arround Wellington channel,
and Kellett with the HMS Resolute and HMS Intrepid the Melville Island. In Autumn they found
a message from the missing McClure-ship. Next Year Lieutnant Pim reached the beset Ship in Mercy-Bay
and brought them to the Resulute. In the autumn 1853/54 all the four ships was beset.
and the Commander Belcher decided to abandone all the ships, and whith some relief Ships all arrived
home in England.

One year later the abandoned HMS Resolute was found drifting alone in the Baffin Bay.
The Ship was given Back to England in 1856, and after brokened up, from the timber two desks
were made and one spent as a gift to the american president. This one is named Resolute Desk
which is the official Desk in the oval office of the US President.

Collinson with the Enterprise arrived back to England in May 1855.
Because of the disciplinary problems on his Ship and his rather limited discoveries,
in spite of McClure he obtained no acknowledgement, McClure won the praise of Pf.10000 for dicovery the
northwest passage, though really not crossed this, but was rescued and transported with Kelletts team.

In July 1854 Dr. John Rae got informations from some Inuits, with which he lived a time on Boothian Island,
of men passed away some Years ago when journing along the coast of King William Land.
He found skeletons and also traces of canibalism.

When this news reached England, there was no more interest to search for the lost expedition.
It was Lady Franklin with her last private money, who forced the last expedition.
The Commander was Francis Leopold McClintock, whith a little steam yacht and 25 men he started
in July from Aberdeen, and reached Greenland, but could not cross the Baffin Bay this year, but drifted
with the ice flue 1200 miles to the south. Next Year he crosses Baffin Bay and reached Bellot Strait in Summer.
From there he and two officers started next spring sledge parties. They got informations of
the inuit living near King William Land, and founded skeletons, many relics and also a message,
which said that the HMS Erebus and Terror were delivered, and the remaining 105 men
started a long march and tried to reach the Back Fish River on the canadian mainland.
Some really reached there, but also perished by starvation or scorbut.

All these explorer spent a long time in a really inhospitable landscape, with hard climate,
dark winters, much privation and worked all the time under high risk.
And all this was so long fruitless.

After finding the evidence of the disaster much things remained mysteriously.

And --- was someone still waiting there?


Francis Leopold McClintock - " The Voyage of the Fox in the Arctic Seas" (1860)
Richard Collinson - "Journal of HMS Enterprise on the Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklins Ships by Bering Strait" (1889)
Stan Nadolny - "Die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit" (1983)
Dan Simmons - "Terror" (2007)
and many other Sites from Internet