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.

jueves, 6 de marzo de 2014


I wonder what would have happened if Crozier and his men would have reached England after all.

After knowing that Ron Howard is making a film (*) about the Essex case, I have been searching for further information of others terrible manifestations of this one particular of those non-written rules which were then called "The customs of the sea".

"Custom of the sea" by Richard Lewer
(*) While reading about this new movie I have been asking myself why every movie´s Director and Producer of this planet is spending money in bad movies instead of spending it into a good movie or serie about the last Franklin expedition, or why not, about the life of Sir John Franklin. 

Whaleship Essex
Of course, I quickly remembered the case of the ship Mignonette which in 1884 was also a famous case of this sad and morbid custom. But this time, the case didn´t finished as another mere example of how cruel were the conditions which the castaways should afford. The trial and its verdict established certain jurisprudence about this subject. 

That ship, the Mignonette, shipwrecked in the surroundings of the Cape Good Hope. The crew, four men, managed themshelves to take the lifeboat, and with it they saved temporarily their lives. They were wandering by the sea for some time. The situation lasted too much and it enworsened quickly to the point that they finally resorted to kill the cabin boy to feed the others. According with some testimonies, the boy was by then in coma, though this point is not completely clear. The Cabin boy beared the name of Richard Parker which would become soon an eternal synonymus of martyrdom and inspiration for writers and film makers.

One curious detail is that the ship which found and saved the survivors from a certain dead was a German ship which was called Montezuma. In my opinion, this fact, could only be interpreted as a signal or as a forecast of the storm which was going to come after and as a forecast of the fear which the accused surely felt during the process: The Montezuma´s revenge.

Those men were judged and, yes, they were condemned after a long and controversial trial to the death penalty, in part to serve as an example for the future. However, their sentence was after all conmuted for only six months of imprissonment and the men saved their lifes. 

Searching a little more, and digging into the neverending source of information of Google, I have learned about the existence of this other, and apparently very interesting, book:

Is Eating People Wrong?
Great Legal Cases and How they Shaped the World

As if I were reached by an harpoon, a question has then suddenly raised  inside my mind. The question is clear, the title of the book says all:

                      "Is eating people wrong?" and what is more "Is eating people legal?

(of course, considering the above mentioned mitigating circunstances of being a survivor of a shipwreck and of being wandering for weeks helplessly in the sea).

My question or questions, which have to be necessarily matched to the Franklin Expedition in one or other way, goes even further:

"What would have happened in 1849 or 1850 if the crews of the ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror would have managed to reach England? Would  have they been judged and condemned?"

Supposing, and this is the key assumption, that they applied the "Custom of the sea" while they were fighting for their lives in King William Island or in Starvation Cove, surely, the same justice which fourty years after condemned those survivors of the Mignonette to death surely would have condemned this others men to a similar fate if they would have find a way to return home.

I guess that this could be a good script for a fiction novel: 

The men of the Franklin expedition didn´t perished and they don´t dissapeared forever. Some of its members reached their homeland safe and sound, yes, but only to be severely judged and to be condemned to death!.

P.S.: If someone wants to write a novel using this idea, please feel free to do it... always that you mention me in the Acknowledgement section of your book. He he he!

8 comentarios:

  1. I've thought of this before, but it's still a fascinating topic. To tell the truth however, I don't believe the survivors (if there had been any) would've have spoken of cannibalism practiced by them in the wilds. It would be a secret they took to their graves unless they'd been found with human bones and skulls on them by rescuers.

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  2. The same could have happened with the survivors of the ship Mignonette, they could have kept the silence, but the facts were told as they occurred.

    Imagine that for example Crozier, any other of the officers, or even more likely one of the men, wouldn´t have resorted to cannibalism, he or they could have spoken freely after and have told the true of what the rest of the others did.

    My answer to the question set out in the title of the book would be, "Depending. From my current point of view, that means with the belly well fed and having plenty of water at reach, I think that I could consider not wrong feeding yourself from others if they were already dead, as the people of the plane crash in the Andian mountains did, but I would consider completely wrong to kill others to survive".

    That thing happened repeatedly in the Japannese concentration camps during the WWII and each time I read about it I get sick. In my opinion there is no reason to think that your live is more valuable than the life of others specially if the others are your mates. The chances of dying all at the same time are narrow, so, why don´t simply wait to the first casualty and then proceed?"

    However, as I said this is easy to think at home while watching the TV in your sofá, but when the things reach their limit...then, Oh!, that is another question. I have only been hunger once. After two weeks walking on the mountains, we run out of food and were hiking for the last two days with only a handful of rice for seven persons.

    The feeling was awful, and it only lasted only two days. The third, when we reached a town we devoured two and a half big sandwiches, as big as 30 cm each and watered them with several jars of beer.

    The survival instinct acts as a wild animal, as far as I know through what I have read or watched in the news. Who haven´t seen never human avalanches to escape from a fire on which people have been crushed for others who jumped over the people who was on the floor?.

    Panic and survival instict are a dangerous combination which can easily transform a human being into a tiger, as it was represented in the "Life of Pi". Those two ingredients are more effective on transforming us into wild animals than the formula of the Doctor Moreau.

  3. For the record, I didn't have a TV nor cable nor a sofá when writing my novel ಠ_ಠ
    Besides, you're missing my point. Even if Crozier or any of the other officers hadn't partaken of cannibalism (which is a big IF) any whiff of that type of goings-on would've had Sophia dumping Crozier's ass so fast ~ face it, they were British. British derring-do doesn't mix with rumors or free-talk of cannibalism.
    Oh, and let's not forget 'German' Concentration Camps back in WWII.

  4. Oh no! Noelia, when I spoke about a sofa and TV I was actually thinking on me.

    I am glad.to know that ypu wrote your novel in hard conditions. That surely woyld help to createvthe appropiate enviroment. I still have to read it and I should say that I am really anxious to do it after reading your other two short stories which I really liked. For those who are intrigued you can find it here:


    I have only read an excerpt and it hooked me like a fish.

    My point is, and I think both coincide, is that surely Crozier wouldn't have told anything to avoid a scandal and to ruin his career, but you know how gossipy the sailors could be, any of the survivors of the crew could have scarcely concealed the secret.

  5. Frankly, I got bored about a third of the way into your post. I came here expecting Doctor Who insight and all I see is you droning on about this Franklin business.

  6. What I am is surprised you could finished a third of it. It has been written in such infamous English that I am even honoured you could have read it.

    Anyway, I caught the idea, and who knows, perhaps I could write a "Franklin vs Doctor Who" related post...or even better...If you do want I invite you to write one. I am lately offering a place in my blog post as if it were a Parking so feel free.

    I don´t know if there is any episode on which the Doctor Boring got out of his absurd blue box just to notice that he was in the also boring King William Island.

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