Sir John Franklin
Sir John Franklin
Historical Overview

On May 19, 1845, two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, set sail from England in search of the Northwest Passage. Accompanying them across the Atlantic was the supply ship Baretto Junior. The Commander was Sir John Franklin; with him he had a crew of 133 men, including several seasoned veterans of polar travel. Five of the men returned to England on the Baretto Junior after supplies were transferred to the Erebus and Terror off the coast of Greenland. In late July, 1845, the two ships with the 129 remaining men were seen disappearing into the ice-choked Davis Strait - the ships and the men were never seen by white men again.

We know that the ships circled Cornwallis Island and spent the winter on Beechey Island where three men died and were buried. In the summer of 1846 the ships broke free from the ice but did not leave any message as to their intended course. History tells us they headed down Peel Strait and got caught in the ice off the coast of King William Island where they spent the winter of 1846/47. Sir John Franklin died on June ll, 1847. The ships did not break free in the summer of 1847 as expected and they continued to be frozen in the ice during the winter of 1847/48. On April 25th, 1848, the ships were deserted by the 105 surviving men who reached the shore of King William Island at Victory Point. They dragged life boats full of provisions and headed south; little is known of exactly what happened after that. Tradition tells us that most of the men died on King William Island and only a small handful made it to the mainland where they perished.

Our 1993 Franklin Recovery Expedition was a scientific Expedition whose purpose was to excavate, analyse and interpret a Franklin site discovered on King William Island in the summer of 1992.

For links to some interesting sites about Sir John Franklin, Click Here.

circumpolar map
This map courtesy of David Stauffer. Used by Permission.

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