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Old 29th August 2019, 01:35 AM   #1
Vixen
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The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition: Death in the Ice

The mystery continues to unfold...

Quote:
Franklin Expedition: New footage of wreck of HMS Terror
Researchers in Canada have been exploring the wreck of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition. The voyage departed from England in 1845 to chart the Northwest Passage.

28 Aug 2019
https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us...-of-hms-terror

So, all of the doors of the ship were found to be open, in what would have been Arctic conditions and a frozen sea.

The only shut door is that of Captain Crozier. The team of researchers who have located the vessel hope to find some clues as to why the ship 'unexpectedly' sank and all the crew presumed died.

There may be a clue within the diaries and notes Croziers probably kept and as preserved in time in ice.

We won't know until the researchers return next year to resume their investigation.

In the meantime, what do you think happened?

I think, having been stuck in ice, some of the crew set off to find land or shelter in the frozen wastes. Maybe snow delirium caused them to open all of the doors - whilst Crozier locked his, out of fear of his angry staff [maybe he had extra rations of food] - or possibly later would-be looters came across the vessel and decided to have a look around.

There is an indigenous Inuit population nearby in Greenland.
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Last edited by Vixen; 29th August 2019 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 29th August 2019, 01:49 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
There is an indigenous Inuit population nearby in Greenland.

Only 750 miles or so away!
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Old 29th August 2019, 01:59 AM   #3
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Aliens. It was obviously alien. Or Time travellers. Or time travelling aliens.
Or maybe Cthulhuoid monstrosities.
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Old 29th August 2019, 04:35 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Only 750 miles or so away!
And ignoring the Inuit populations that are in the immediate area.
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Old 29th August 2019, 05:14 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post

In the meantime, what do you think happened?
Doors being open or closed is probably nothing of any significance.

It seems pretty obvious that after two winters stuck in the pack-ice they decided to walk to land.

By this time they were probably suffering from scurvy or any of a number of other forms of malnutrition, as well as maybe lead poisoning, which might explain their somewhat bizarre behaviour.

The real mystery is the burials at Beechy Island. This was a very well provisioned and experienced outfit - how is it they suffered three fatalities so early on? Why was the burial of William Braine so hurried? Why did they depart without leaving any log of what happened?

This is what makes it so intriguing - the indication is that something was seriously afflicting the expedition from quite an early stage and whatever 'it' was, it was affecting officers at a disproportionate rate - by the time the ships were abandoned, the expedition had lost 14% of its men but 40% of its officers....

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Old 29th August 2019, 05:41 AM   #6
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There's a miniseries about that expedition. Goes into quite a bit of detail but apparently gets derailed by some supernatural stuff. Haven't seen it yet, but the HistoryBuffs Youtube channel does a great job of quickly exploring the events.
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Old 29th August 2019, 05:49 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
There's a miniseries about that expedition. Goes into quite a bit of detail but apparently gets derailed by some supernatural stuff. Haven't seen it yet, but the HistoryBuffs Youtube channel does a great job of quickly exploring the events.
Yeah, its called 'The Terror'. It is a bit silly with the supernatural nonsense but still worth watching.

Pretty bleak though. Not exactly a feel-good movie.
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Old 29th August 2019, 06:08 AM   #8
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No but it's got some tall ship stuff, which is always fascinating.
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Old 29th August 2019, 08:00 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
Doors being open or closed is probably nothing of any significance.

It seems pretty obvious that after two winters stuck in the pack-ice they decided to walk to land.

By this time they were probably suffering from scurvy or any of a number of other forms of malnutrition, as well as maybe lead poisoning, which might explain their somewhat bizarre behaviour.

The real mystery is the burials at Beechy Island. This was a very well provisioned and experienced outfit - how is it they suffered three fatalities so early on? Why was the burial of William Braine so hurried? Why did they depart without leaving any log of what happened?

This is what makes it so intriguing - the indication is that something was seriously afflicting the expedition from quite an early stage and whatever 'it' was, it was affecting officers at a disproportionate rate - by the time the ships were abandoned, the expedition had lost 14% of its men but 40% of its officers....

If it was some sort of poisoning from the tinned meat, could it have been that the officers had a bigger meat ration?
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Old 29th August 2019, 09:25 AM   #10
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If only they had waited until 2012, they could have just sailed on through with no ice to block them. The passage isn't quite open yet this year, and with the annual minimum approaching and slowing of the melt rate, it might not open up this year.

I know the basics of the expedition, but not the details. Was it a fool's errand to begin with? Obviously, we know now that in the days before global warming there was no Northwest Passage to find. Should it have been obvious to them that they had gone too far to turn back, and were destined to be stuck in the ice?
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Old 29th August 2019, 09:30 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
Yeah, its called 'The Terror'. It is a bit silly with the supernatural nonsense but still worth watching.

Pretty bleak though. Not exactly a feel-good movie.
It's based on the Dan Simmons book of the same name which I thoroughly enjoyed when I read it. I haven't seen the mini-series but if it runs along the same track as the book you'd be hard pushed to consider it anything other than a very fictionlised account of what might have happened if local lore was remotely plausible.
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Old 29th August 2019, 09:52 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
If it was some sort of poisoning from the tinned meat, could it have been that the officers had a bigger meat ration?
It's long been speculated that they suffered from lead poisoning.

The amount of lead found in their remains was ten times higher than the Inuits, and the cans were very poorly made with lead solder dripping down the seams of the tins like candlewax.

Recent research casts doubt on this though, as comparisons to remains from the RN cemetery in Antigua from the same time had the same levels of lead.

Seems the Victorians just had chronic lead poisoning!

One interesting thing about the bodies examined on Beechy Island is that they were emaciated, with BMI's of 14-15. So obviously wasted away over a long period of time.

Pneumonia and tuberculosis have been speculated as a cause of death but again, why so many deaths such a short time into the voyage?

One explanation might be a type of botulism associated with marine mammals.

Perhaps officers were eating relatively large amounts of meat from hunted seals, this suffering from chronic and insidious botulism poisoning. Botulism causes neurodegeneration, meaning everyone would have become weak and mentally compromised.

And if the officers had been more mentally compromised than the rest of the crew, this may explain the expeditions overall inexplicable behaviour.
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Old 29th August 2019, 10:50 AM   #13
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Franklin

The book "Ice Ghosts" by Paul Watson (2017, Norton) is a very good description of the expedition and what is known about it. Watson points out that the native people's stories about where the ships were was very accurate but had been ignored by those looking for Franklin after he vanished.
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Old 29th August 2019, 10:56 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Border Reiver View Post
And ignoring the Inuit populations that are in the immediate area.
Inuit people did report boarding at least one of the ships after it had been abandoned. I don't remember which one. Can't find a reference for it now.
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Old 29th August 2019, 12:05 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Hubert Cumberdale View Post
One explanation might be a type of botulism associated with marine mammals.

Or associated with ineptly manufactured canned meat?
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Old 1st September 2019, 08:20 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
Inuit people did report boarding at least one of the ships after it had been abandoned. I don't remember which one. Can't find a reference for it now.
They reported seeing another ship from three hundred years' earlier: Frobisher's from 1570's.

In fact, workman tools entered into the Inuit culture from European hardwood found from the various expeditions and even a steel blade was found attached to bone or tusk handles they usually used, not to mention lots of copper.

The Inuits reported finding the HMS Erebus and Terror abandoned, the Erebus sunk, with just its masks showing, and the Terror some distance away entrenched in ice.

The interesting thing is the ships were found much further south than where they had been abandoned by the men. Some 105 plus the captains. Only five known burial spots. Three died from tuberculosis, one from an infected dental abscess and the other probably scurvy.

Timeline: Expedition set off 19 May 1845
Ships abandoned circa June 1846, with already 20% of the sailors dead.
Franklin reported died 1848.
Wife paid for a private expedition to find her husband some twelve years' later after several failed attempts by HM Government of the day. Note of Franklin's death was found in one of the metal canisters the crews used to communicate with each other, at Victory Point.
HMS Erebus was finally found in 2014 and the Terror shortly after.
Captain Erebus = Franklin
Captain Terror = Crozier


Hopefully the locked cabin found of Crozier's will provide researchers with a fascinating insight of what went wrong when they retrieve his notes. I expect he would have kept studious logs as was the custom and also because it was a scientific/nature research expedition as well as one looking for the mythical Northwest Passage.
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Old 1st September 2019, 11:09 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
There's a miniseries about that expedition. Goes into quite a bit of detail but apparently gets derailed by some supernatural stuff. Haven't seen it yet, but the HistoryBuffs Youtube channel does a great job of quickly exploring the events.
You seem to be conflating a documentary account with the fiction novel Dan Simmons wrote, The Terror.

Ninja'd by BluesJr.
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Old 4th November 2019, 12:03 PM   #18
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There's a second season, Infamy, which doesn't seem to have anything at all to do with the Franklin expedition: The Terror.
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Old 4th November 2019, 12:16 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
There's a second season, Infamy, which doesn't seem to have anything at all to do with the Franklin expedition: The Terror.
Why? Just why?
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Old 4th November 2019, 03:15 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by catsmate View Post
Aliens. It was obviously alien. Or Time travellers. Or time travelling aliens.
Or maybe Cthulhuoid monstrosities.
Actually the Franklin expedition was quite a bit away from the site of the 1931 Mistaktonic University Expedition and the Mountains of Madness...
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Old 4th November 2019, 04:58 PM   #21
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Old 4th November 2019, 05:07 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by catsmate View Post
Aliens. It was obviously alien. Or Time travellers. Or time travelling aliens.
Or maybe Cthulhuoid monstrosities.
Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Actually the Franklin expedition was quite a bit away from the site of the 1931 Mistaktonic University Expedition and the Mountains of Madness...
But they were close to the land of Ithaqua, the Thing That Walks on the Wind.

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Old 4th November 2019, 05:34 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by catsmate View Post
Why? Just why?
What do you mean? Each seasons deals with a different event.
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Old 4th November 2019, 05:53 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
In the meantime, what do you think happened?

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.
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Old 6th November 2019, 09:09 PM   #25
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After I saw the Nova episode about the expedition, I wanted to read a book; unfortunately, the only one I could find was written for young adults, and made Franklin out to be a great hero. There was nothing about cannibalism or other non-heroic elements of the story. I hope to read a better book on the subject someday.
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Old 6th November 2019, 10:46 PM   #26
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Sorry, but as a Canuck I cannot let a Franklin thread pass without bring up Stan Rogers and his song, Northwest Passage.

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Old 7th November 2019, 10:40 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Actually the Franklin expedition was quite a bit away from the site of the 1931 Mistaktonic University Expedition and the Mountains of Madness...
Yes, most of the world in fact...
However that was the expedition to the North Pole by airship.
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Old 7th November 2019, 10:42 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
Sorry, but as a Canuck I cannot let a Franklin thread pass without bring up Stan Rogers and his song, Northwest Passage.

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That's perfectly acceptable. Given the date, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald would also be reasonable.
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Old 7th November 2019, 11:39 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
Only 750 miles or so away!
And even further from the "swampy wilds" of British Columbia. .
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Old 7th November 2019, 11:50 AM   #30
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I can recommend this quick read well written fascinating read by Karen Ryan, Death in the Ice.

It was one of the souvenir books that came with the exhibition at the Greenwich Maritime Museum. I stumbled on the exhibition by sheer accident as we had gone on a general party to the museum by chance. I was instantly fascinated, although I didn't actually read the book for years, having misplaced it. Joy, it turned up whilst I was packing, stuffed behind some sofa. Read it a few weeks ago and mentions all the cannabalism, scurvy, etc.

Great for those who do not have time to read the heavy stuff.
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Old 30th November 2019, 02:34 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
The mystery continues to unfold...

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us...-of-hms-terror

So, all of the doors of the ship were found to be open, in what would have been Arctic conditions and a frozen sea.

The only shut door is that of Captain Crozier. The team of researchers who have located the vessel hope to find some clues as to why the ship 'unexpectedly' sank and all the crew presumed died.

There may be a clue within the diaries and notes Croziers probably kept and as preserved in time in ice.

We won't know until the researchers return next year to resume their investigation.

In the meantime, what do you think happened?

I think, having been stuck in ice, some of the crew set off to find land or shelter in the frozen wastes. Maybe snow delirium caused them to open all of the doors - whilst Crozier locked his, out of fear of his angry staff [maybe he had extra rations of food] - or possibly later would-be looters came across the vessel and decided to have a look around.

There is an indigenous Inuit population nearby in Greenland.
"Curious locals" would have been not racist.

ETA, just sayin'

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Old 2nd December 2019, 05:16 PM   #32
Nakani
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When I learned about the Franklin expedition in school, we were told they set out looking for a short cut but got stuck in the ice. Then they went crazy and died of starvation. Carrying the captain's desk ashore was cited as an example of their madness.

I didn't think it seemed that crazy, I told my teacher they were probably going to burn it, she said,"But it was the Captain's desk, they were trying to save it from getting ruined.". How would they do that in the arctic, those mad fools.

As for the doors being open, my bet is that after living on the ship for so long, the explorers went nose blind. Whomever happened upon the ship decided it needed a bit of a breeze.

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Old 3rd December 2019, 01:22 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Nakani View Post
When I learned about the Franklin expedition in school, we were told they set out looking for a short cut but got stuck in the ice. Then they went crazy and died of starvation. Carrying the captain's desk ashore was cited as an example of their madness.

I didn't think it seemed that crazy, I told my teacher they were probably going to burn it, she said,"But it was the Captain's desk, they were trying to save it from getting ruined.". How would they do that in the arctic, those mad fools.

As for the doors being open, my bet is that after living on the ship for so long, the explorers went nose blind. Whomever happened upon the ship decided it needed a bit of a breeze.
They were looking for the mythical North West Passage. They got stuck in ice and went crazy with hunger and snow-blindness. Died of scurvy, cannibalism (perhaps these were already dead), hypothermia and hunger.
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Old 3rd December 2019, 07:52 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
They were looking for the mythical North West Passage. They got stuck in ice and went crazy with hunger and snow-blindness. Died of scurvy, cannibalism (perhaps these were already dead), hypothermia and hunger.
The mystery of the Captain's desk captured my interest as a kid. I figured there was more to this story, so I read what I could find, determined to figure out what happened. Although I couldn't solve the mystery I am aware of the basic facts.

What intrigues me these days is the daily drama that would have unfolded on those ships locked in the ice. I am looking forward to any documents that may be recovered from the Captain's room.
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Old 3rd December 2019, 09:43 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Nakani View Post
The mystery of the Captain's desk captured my interest as a kid. I figured there was more to this story, so I read what I could find, determined to figure out what happened. Although I couldn't solve the mystery I am aware of the basic facts.

What intrigues me these days is the daily drama that would have unfolded on those ships locked in the ice. I am looking forward to any documents that may be recovered from the Captain's room.
Provided there are still any documents to be found. The ships have been under water for 170 years.
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Old 4th December 2019, 11:23 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Blue Mountain View Post
Provided there are still any documents to be found. The ships have been under water for 170 years.
Yeah, it doesn't seem promising. Just getting inside the room looks pretty difficult, let alone grabbing some 170 year old papers and bringing them to the surface.
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Old 4th December 2019, 01:28 PM   #37
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I don't think there are any useful influences to be drawn from which "doors" were open or closed on the ship. First, some of the hatches could have been forced open by escaping air as the ship sank, or fallen open during the better part of two centuries underwater. Second, the hatches could have been left open by the crew as they abandoned ship, whether that was during the sinking, or earlier. Finally, they could have been left open by the aforementioned curious locals investigating the derelict.
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Old 4th December 2019, 01:39 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
I don't think there are any useful influences to be drawn from which "doors" were open or closed on the ship. First, some of the hatches could have been forced open by escaping air as the ship sank, or fallen open during the better part of two centuries underwater. Second, the hatches could have been left open by the crew as they abandoned ship, whether that was during the sinking, or earlier. Finally, they could have been left open by the aforementioned curious locals investigating the derelict.
Not necessarily. Recent news item in the Geographical, together with some interesting pictures of the mess table, claims there is hope the papers contained within Captain Crozier's desk inside HMS Terror are well-preserved:

Quote:
He began by talking about what tantalising discoveries could be found in Captain Francis Crozier’s desk that would shed further light on what happened to Franklin’s expedition. ‘When we look at Crozier’s desk, we see that all the drawers are closed and there’s a drift of protective sedimentation over the desk,’ he said. ‘That all suggests a very high level of preservation for the contents of those drawers. We can speculate on the sort of things that we might find inside and the potential for written materials to survive with water temperatures hovering around zero degrees Celsius and the general state of darkness due to the ice cover for much of the year this tends to slow down the aerobic processes of degradation.’ Harris’ hope is that with the sediment covering and the closed drawers, there is a sufficient anaerobic environment that delicate materials such as textiles and paper might survive.
This could be quite exciting because part of the raison d'etre of these expeditions was to meticulously note all of the flora and fauna seen. It follows Crozier may have equally charted the last days of his ship.
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Old 4th December 2019, 03:18 PM   #39
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I meant to write "inferences" rather than "influences." Possibly the computer I was using autocorrected it and I didn't notice. That aside, your response does not contradict, or even directly relate to, what I wrote.
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Old 4th December 2019, 03:21 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by SpitfireIX View Post
I meant to write "inferences" rather than "influences." Possibly the computer I was using autocorrected it and I didn't notice. That aside, your response does not contradict, or even directly relate to, what I wrote.
Soz, I was accidentally replying to someone else.
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