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Old 3rd February 2020, 02:49 PM   #49
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Join Date: Nov 2003
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
I read a book about this. First, Franklin was a rich, entitled moron. Despite barely surviving land and sea expeditions (during which he complained the whole time), he insisted upon returning.

The ships became locked in the ice, having made almost no headway after having been locked in the ice the previous year. Erebus was crushed by shifting ice sufficiently for the crew to abandon it and take up on the Terror. Then they just ran out of food or, more importantly, vitamin C (which degrades over time so had to be found fresh).

At some point, the crew chose to walk to land and to hunt. They didn't do either very well. There was nothing to hunt because, you know, ice. So they took to doing what other crews had done before them - cannibalizing the dead. This has shown up in the historical records through first-hand accounts and evidence of neatly sawed bones (rather than shattered).

This did not help them. According to one Inuit story, they remembered seeing a large white man sitting on a hill, and then putting his head down and dying. The Inuit at the time had no concept of personal possessions, so they may well have raided some of the camps for materials and never thought about the historical value of anything.

The chances are very good that, if Franklin's journals survived the death of the crew, the Inuit used them to fuel fires or wipe their butts or lots of other things that destroyed them forever.

Two things cemented Franklin as a hero to the British: 1) His widow campaigned endlessly to have him declared to have found the Northwest Passage on the very flimsiest of pretense; and 2) She was careful never to let a word get out about the cannibalism, which definitely happened.

Once again, I read a book.
The Erebus was not crushed in the ice. It has in fact been found almost completely intact, just off the mainland. Further the Terror was found a few years later, again almost intact.
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