Burial of John Franklin. Author: me


Kabloonas is the way in which the Inuit who live in the north part of Canada call those who haven´t their same ascendency.

The first time i read this word was in the book "Fatal Passage" by Ken McGoogan, when, as the result of the conversations between John Rae and some inuit, and trying to find any evidence of the ill-fated Sir John Franklin Expedition, some of then mentioned that they watched how some kabloonas walked to die in the proximities of the river Great Fish.

I wish to publish this blog to order and share all those anecdotes that I´ve been finding in the arctic literature about arctic expeditions. My interest began more than 15 years ago reading a little book of my brother about north and south pole expeditions. I began reading almost all the bibliography about Antarctic expeditions and the superknown expeditions of Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton, etc. After I was captured by the Nansen, Nobile and Engineer Andree. But the most disturbing thing in that little book, full of pictures, was the two pages dedicated to the last Franklin expedition of the S.XIX, on that moment I thought that given the time on which this and others expeditions happened, few or any additional information could be obtained about it. I couldn´t imagine that after those two pages It would be a huge iceberg full of stories, unresolved misteries, anecdotes, etc. I believe that this iceberg, on the contrary than others, would continue growing instead melting.

domingo, 26 de agosto de 2012


Some people are frustrated (me including) because the only written record found till now only serves to draft the big tragedy that followed the abandoning of the ships. This paper sheet (two, if we consider the copy) is the prelude of an awful story which the remains found in the same island over the years would demonstrate subsequently. The information is much if you consider that the author used only a few phrases to define the situation. The paper was written twice in two different years.

It is well known that the first entry on the message found in a tin in Victory point says the following:

 "Sir John Franklin commanding the Expedition.  All well

This can make you think that the things on the 28th of may of 1847 were going really well. However, I think that the fact of pointing who was in that time really commanding the expedition is strange. For me is a paradoxical thing and a matter of conjecture. What was the need to mention that if "all was well"?.

 I think that the author wanted to say really :

                                  "Sir John Franklin is still commanding the Expedition. All well

What supports my idea is that two weeks after Franklin was died. I really think that this note has more content than the merely is written and visible.

Another question is the single afirmation "all well". I am not an English speaking person so I cannot deduce many things, but I supposse that there is better ways to define a situation if the things are going really well, reasonable well (as it seems to mean this second affirmation) or if that the things are starting to worsen quickly. 

I think that both affirmations meaning that Franklin was indeed ill or very weak on that time but that he was still giving orders to his crews, and that "all well" means that the situation was turning desperate. Because the note was prepared to endure a lot of time, many years, waiting to be found for other explorers or a rescue expedition, probably, and with the previous experience about the Barrow criticals to the journals writen by the "weak" explorers, (who described desperate situations literally), likely the author wanted to keep some prudency on written it.

So, in my modest opinion, the hidden message, is that in the end of may of 1847, almost two exact years after departing, the situation was actually and indeed "All bad".

John Franklin from a painting of him. Author: me.

viernes, 24 de agosto de 2012


Dear collegues:

Here you have a beautiful jewell (even with a zoom tool) to make your own suppositions.

The detailed map with the explorers finds about the last Franklin expedition in KWI:


Is fresh like fish recently caught fish!! for those which aren´t in facebook...I´ve learned the existence of the searching expedition from the specific site dedicated to the last Franklin expedition on which I recomend to sign up to be alert of the fresh news:

This is the site in CBC news dedicated to the new searching expedition:


I hope you will enjoy it!!

I am sure that we are going to have also fresh news from the lost ships in a short time...

martes, 21 de agosto de 2012


I am happier with this version,  and in my defense I have to say that I allways do freehand drawing. Never tracing!!.

There is no added value only copying photos, but if I am able to capture the gestures, perhaps I could put them in other angles and postures to do the sketches of the expedition which I mentioned in the other post.

domingo, 19 de agosto de 2012


I have to say that we have a new light over the dark sky about the mistery of the Franklin last and lost expedition.

It rises over the horizon as a new blog that promises to illuminate at least part of the darkness that surround this tragedy, mistery and fateful expedition.

The blog is called "Stars over Ice", and the site is this: http://starsoverice.blogspot.com.es/

About the author, I can say that I am personally learning a lot things from her thanks to her kindness, generosity and deep knowledge about this issues. She has been a loyal partaker and follower of my own site  (a thing that I thank to her strongly) and now I am going to be a faithful follower of the hers.

I think that now that she had decided to create her own site, we are going to learn a  lot of things from this tireless Franklinst. 

Enjoy it!!!

miércoles, 15 de agosto de 2012


Here we have James Fitzjames. Let me be hard with myself and self -critical (is the way to improve).

My drawing reminds me more of the father of the Adams family (with all my respects for him, of course) rather than the real J.Fitzjames....but at least his impossible hair and the uniform are similar. The original picture is here.

Again I crash with the problem of the eyes. It is a matter of practice, practice and more practice, specially if you are an untrained cartoonist as it is my case.(Feel free of making any constructive comment to me).

This man is defined as "the mistery man of the Franklin Expedition" in the title of the book of William Battersby, I think that because of the several ´gaps´ or ´lapsus´ existing in the path of his live, including the fact of their appointment as the second in command with Franklin in his last expedition . 

There is a web page dedicated to him and to the book mentioned before created by William Battersby here :  http://www.jamesfitzjames.net/default.html.

I have the book over my table waiting to be reading soon and I have to say that I am anxious to read it. Again, I have to redirect my post to a thorough review of this book which only increases my anxiety of reading it. I can assure you that is a hard task to decide what is the next arctic or ´Franklin´ book to read because the list is inmense and not all of them are good enough. This year I´ve been focused on the 1819´s Coppermine Expedition of Franklin, and it is hard to leave apart the two journals which I had also waiting, the George Back and Richardson ones edited by C.S: Houston, but it is good to change of focus once in a while.

There are other books about this man, one is called "North with Franklin: The lost journals of James Fitzjames" and the original "The last journal of Captain James Fitzjames".

If there is no patience enough to read the book in order to know better this man, there is a short, and more or less complete biography  here, though I recommend to contrast oportunately its content. 

What seems to be true is that he had a sharp sense of humour and that he had some kind of emotional intelligent as it seems that can be deduced from some of his commentaries about his mates.

To finish this comment, and while I am advancing in the knowledge of the careers, personality and character of these men, I think that far from other considerations that have been told about this expedition, the team seems to be an excellent body of people, hard, prepared, experienced, clever, etc. In fact the conditions had to be very hard, and obviously they fought against a certain death during several years and achieved to survive despite all this time being ill. It is impossible to imagine how would you feel walking on that desolate land dragging an absurdly heavy boat, extremely ill, starved and with your moral absolutely destroyed watching how your collegues are falling every day besides yo.

Likely If I were one of these officers selected to join the expedition and with the knowledge they had, I hadn´t chose any other better companions to afford that calamity.

lunes, 13 de agosto de 2012


Well, this is my own representation of James Reid, the ice master of the HMS Erebus.  The original picture is here. Again the drawing doesn´t have any resemblance with the original, I think that he looks even infantile in my drawing, any trace of his hard facial features, but....

I am enjoying stopping to study the facial features. It gives me a lot of information. Undoubtely this man was a veteran sailor, his clear eyes show experience. This man seems to be a whaling captain. It seems that the Royal Navy normally takes this kind of  people for guiding the vessels among the icebergs or ice floes in the northern seas. Whalers have been allways familiarizated with the navigation in arctic seas.

 I haven´t found any additional information to put here. Only that in 1854 John Rae obtained from the Inuit a gold watch engraved with his initials. This probably is the only remain of him that will be recovered ever.

viernes, 3 de agosto de 2012


Sometimes clues and facts have come to the light after years of a dense fog of mistery, not only through books or journals found on lonely skeletons or through lost papers enclosed on metal tins under big cairns placed on desolated shores. Other times they have come from oral testimonies which have lasted hundreds of years.

But sometimes the testimonies come into the light under the form of pictures. This is indeed very rare and even  rarer if you consider that the pictures come from the 19th century and that those were found after being thirty three years in the middle of the arctic.

There are other cameras or photographic records waiting for being found and for revealing two different tragedies, that of George Leigh Mallory who died trying to descend from the Everest and that camera that carried the John Franklin lost and last Expedition. Although in my opinion there isn´t any hope to found none of them.

This post is a tribute to three people who died 115 years ago. Tomorrow is the aniversary of the day when they make a wise decission. On the 4th august of 1897 three tired men, after being for 21 days on the ice pack since their Hydrogen filled Ballon landed after 2 and a half days of a hellish flight trying to reach the North Pole, decided their future over the 81 th parallel  and choose their path to scape from a certain death. It was indeed a wise decission, but not allways the fate is on our hands and this demonstrate that it isn´t enough to make the correct decissions to survive.

Nils Strindberg_from Wikipedia
Salomon August Andree from wiikipedia

Knut Fraenkel
These men had to decide between going to one of the depots left for them in case of emergency. One was located on  the ´Seven Islands´in Svalbard and the other was in Cape Flora in the Franz Josef Land. The distance from they were to the depots aren´t the same, but they were unaware of that point, and, of course they choose wrong, they began to walk to Cape Flora. It was on the 4th of august when they decided to change the course and they began to walk to Seven Islands but they were never going to reach it.

However, this fact perhaps had nothing to do with their deaths, one of the entries of the Salomon journal on the 4th of october said that the morale was good when they left the ice to transfer their winter quarters to the Kvitoya Island also known as the ´Innaccesible Island´ (it seems to me an ugly forecast).

It has no sense saying much more about the expedition in this post, the whole history is perfectly described here.

Besides this information there are several books, the one on which I discovered the story was on the book "Alas sobre el polo" or ´Wings over the pole´ by Umberto Nobile, which I read a lot of years ago.

There are of course more books that are focused only on the Andree Expedition (I´ve not read anyone of them),  though seeing some review I reccomend to make a previous analysis to make the right choice in order to make a good approach to this subject. There is even a good film nominated to the Oscars about this sad story, directed by Jan Troell and starring the very well known actor Max Von Sydow. I think that the movie is well done and well directed, I enjoyed when I saw it, it has even fun scenes.

I´ve choosed this strange title for the post thinking on one hand that these poor men, who came from the sky not following a star but on board of a strange kind of aircraft, were indeed wise, Salomon would be the forever known ´Ingeneer´ and his name as that of the king has been allways synonymus of wisdom, Nils was the photographer expert  and Knut was also an engineer like Salomon, and on the other hand, because they could be considerated wizards, no other thing can be said of the amazing fact that the photographic film survive the whopping amount of thirty three years with a lot of pictures intact inside.

The story has protagonists, a stage and a theme, and these are they:

The protagonists:  S. A. Andrée,   Nils Strindberg  and Knut Frænkel
The stage: Kvitøya
The theme: A tragedy.

This video (by Latlak) is really beautiful, though a little bit long (9 minutes), is a tribute to the men and to the expedition, the images are pretty (almost all of them taken from the film mentioned before) and the final scenes are chilling, the rests of these poor men whose were burned soon after being repatriated.

Likely, we never will known the real cause of their deaths because the rests of their corpses were burned and it will be a matter of conjecture even nowadays. The cause of the ´trichinosis´ was ever considered as the main reason. Now there are more theories, it seems that at least the reason for the death of one them was an alleged attack by a polar bear, for the others are theories which talks of a supposed poisoning after eating the liver of a bear or death by botulism.

The fact was that their corpses were found in an encampment with enough food and the rests of a polar bear nearby, so the starvation should not be considered as a reason to explain this tragedy, only remains illness or violence or perhaps the mixture of both.

To add more mistery the last and apparently meaningless phrases of the Salomon Journal are thrilling, the meaning is confusing, the message seems to be ... desperate.

The photos of the expedition are reproduced here:

And finally there is a museum in Sweden, the web site is this, it is only in Swedish.

If anybody has more recent information which wants to share will be wellcome to comment here.