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.

martes, 22 de abril de 2014


I am feeling like a mad gold miner who has found an amazing and neverending vein of gold in the desert of the vast unknown zone which is the last and lost Franklin´s expedition.

Digging on this new source of information which is the scanned old newspapers available in the website of the National Library of Australia, I recently did  another interesting finding in an article published in the Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal in 1902.

A mysterious relic from the Franklin expedition travelled a long way from the King William Island to Bathurst, Australia. I called it a mysterious relic because since I stumbled with it I have been searching for references among the pictures, engravings, narratives and so on aboutthe Franklin expedition relics and I have found nothing at all.

This, till now unknown for me, relic was no other than a small geographical globe of about three inches in diameter. It seems that it was found together with other Graham Gore´s belongings in the arctic, a sword and a telescope,  among the other relics of the Franklin expedition. There is not mentioned in the article who did this finding.

The article says that the globe was loaned to the Local Technology Museum (of Bathurst, I guess) in 1902. It belonged to the Captain John Gore, Grandfather of Graham Gore. John Gore was a well known sailor who circunnavigated the Earth three times, twice on board the HMS Dolphin and once together with Cook in the HMS Resolution during his third voyage. 

The origin of the little globe is a mistery by itself, surely it was a present addressed to John Gore done by the Admiralty after finishing the voyage for Cook as a sort of tribute to his endeavours.

Graham Gore (Royal Navy Lieutenant)
National Maritime Museum
John Gore (Royal Navy Captain) 

The globe of the picture above is a Geographycal globe of 1,5 inches in diameter made by Newton & Son with engraved hand-colored gores, set within a turned mahogany box. It represented the routes of Captain Cook's third voyage, and the route taken by the Captains Charles Clerke and John Gore who completed the voyage in 1779 after Cook was killed in Hawaii. The thought that a globe similar to this one could have been presented to the Captain John Gore came to me because on it was represented that particular voyage.

The size of the globe in the picture and the size of the globe described in the article don´t match. In fact it seems that commonly these also called pocket globes usually had 3 inches of diameter. However, there is still a chance of discovering the actual globe which could have belonged once to John Gore and to after to Graham Gore. The one of the picture has a twin, a bigger one of three inches size, which is now in the National Maritime Museum of Greenwich.  I have taken a look at it (below) and it looks quite new, not as if it would have spent years in the arctic, and there is no trace of another similar among the pictures of the Franklin expedition relics available in its web page neither.

One has to wonder if the one which is now in the NMM could be the same who was loaned to the Local Techonology Museum in 1902 in Bathurst, Australia. The globe which is in the NMM is described as it follows:

"An identical globe, without the mahogany box, is in the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Britain and pictured in Dekker, Globes at Greenwich.  Their example is part of an orrery published c. 1850.  In the book are illustrated two 3-inch Newton pocket globes, dated "after 1833" and c. 1860 respectively, shown with mahogany cases of the same design, but larger to accommodate the larger globes." 

Terrestrial and celestial pocket globe

National Maritime Museum


If our little piece of the puzzle, the original Graham Gore´s globe, is now in the National Maritime Museum, then it would have done the same long trip at least four times. It would have traveled from Britain to Australia with John Gore Jr. when he moved to there in 1831, from Australia to the Arctic with Graham Gore in 1845 when he joined the Franklin Expedition, it would have come back again to Australia when it was sent to his relatives after being found in King William Island and he would have done once more trip from Australia to London to repose in some box or shelf of the National Maritime Museum. 

There are other Pocket Globes of 3 inches made by Newton & son which are available in webshops of antiquities like this one, who knows if some of these could be the Gore´s one...:

3 inches geographycal globe.
The globe described in the article is said to be contained on a shark skin case, which is not mentioned in any of the descriptions I have read, so surely any of the globes I have found will be the Graham Gore´s one. 

I have even doubt about the existence of that globe, in this letter  are described certain arrangements for the sending of a sword and a telescope. The date of the title is wrong, the correct one is 14 january 1855. No globes are mentioned apparently on it. The description of this letter is this:

"A handwritten double sided letter on thin cream paper, relating to a sword and telescope and transport arrangements for them. The letter starts "Bournemouth, / 14 January 1855" My dear Sir, / Requested my agents / Messrs Clinch & Sons to ap- / ply to Mr Kelby..."

 Did this globe exist at all? or it is a ghost globe? 

Please help me to solve this mistery!!

miércoles, 16 de abril de 2014


"Willing to go" - These three words written the 11th july of 1845 show the spirit of a man, not a very well known man  indeed. These three words show actually the spirits of the whole companionship who went together with Sir John Franklin to the Arctic.

Time ago I published a short post here where I tried to draw him. On that time I couldn´t find any specific information about this man. I didn´t have even read the description of him made by james Fitzjames in one of his letters where he was described as a rough but affable man.

James Reid Ice Master of HMS Erebus - Franklin expedition of 1845
From: www.luminous-lint.com
It has been now that I have discovered this short article in The Register (or also called the South Australian Register)   where I have found much more valuable information on which this man is well described and what is even more curious, I have discovered on it that he had in his hands the opportunity to avoid the disaster.

James Reid was a man who kept an intense correpondence with his wife. On one of his letters written to her the spring of the fateful year of 1845 (22th of march 1845) he told his wife that he had been asked by a shipowner to go on board the ship Neptune to sail to Quebec in April. He told her spouse that he refused that offer because he was at this point committed with  Sir John to depart in the Franklin expedition to the North.

His fate was then sealed but his words show an involved man with high expectancies on this particular journey:

"It may be two years, it may be three or four, but I am quite willing to go"

This phrase not only is a demonstration of his mood but it is also the key which teach us that this man, at least on these previous stages of the preparation of the expedition, was more than concious that the expedition could last even four years. A point which has been sometimes questioned, however after, in a letter sent from Whalefish Islands, he mentions that they were carrying only provisions for three years. He continuous:

"Sir John told me that if I went the voyage with him  and landed safely in England again I would be looked after all my life"

In this case, another fact is revealed, the trust which the men of the Franklin expedition had laid on their Commander. A thing which one could easily believe if one analyses the treatment received after previous expeditions for other of his previous companions.

Reading forward he wrote this dark forecast:

"Mr Enderby has been a good friend to me. He will look after you if I should never return"

And follows:

"No doubt there will be a great talk about me going this voyage. . It will show that I am not frightened for my life like some men. It is for you and the family. Why should a man stop at home?"

Saying that "he wouldn´t show he wasn´t frightened" implies to me that he was scared to death about this adventure. Precisely because of his knowledge of the arctic regions and the dangers which the ice involves James Reid surely was one of the more aware about the hell through which they were going to sail .

Another curious thing mentioned in the article is that the officers "had to" buy their own silver spoons and forks. Reid complains about those expenses. Were they obliged to buy their own cutlery?, Was that a formal prescription for the officers?. 

I really don´t know, but if that thing is true, it could explain why so many of this items were found among the belongings of the bodies of the men scattered in King King William Island. If some officers incurred on heavy and disproportionate expenses to afford this purchase, perhaps some of them succumbed to the temptation of carrying those valuable spoons and forks till the end.

And now I have found an astonishing thing. James Reid says:

"Lady Franklin has ordered all the officers' likenesses to be taken, and mine among the rest, with my uniform on. She keeps them all by herself."

My knowledge of English is well known to be insufficient, but I believe this phrase means that it was Lady Franklin who ordered the famous pictures (daguerrotypes) of the officers to be taken by Richard Beard? I didn´t know that detail. I have always read and believed that the idea have come from John Franklin himself. Perhaps Reid was wrong, and was actually Sir John the promoter of such historical action.

The letter continues and then arises another remarkably assertion which hurts for the hidden true it contains and for the sincere love it shows to his beloved wife:

"Keep your heart up. We will both meet again. This voyage will be the last that I will never make."

The next letter was written 80 miles west from Stromness and it show us how this old lad was indeed loved by her employers:
"The first lieutenant calls me his Jolly Old Hero.' He is a good seaman, and so is Capt. Fitzjamcs. He is a fine man, and is next to Sir John Franklin."
Writing from Whalefish Islands in july 1845 he confirms the suggestions that Sir John was in a poor state of health when they departed from London, and that surely the fresh air of the sea had helped him to recover:
"I am glad to acquaint you that Sir John Frankin is quite well, and enjoying better health than when in London"
References to the unusual warmth of the present and the previous seasons are done a couple of times, one mentioning that the previous season the winter was defined by the locals of Greenland as "mild" and other is this:
"I have been a number of 'years in this country, but I never saw it so warm as it has been during the past three days."
I don´t know why but James Reid always had attracted my attention, there was something in his look and posture who inclined me to feel certain fondness to this man.
James Reid left a wife and three sons, who he demonstrated through his writting he loved more than anything else in the world. The apparently rough and veteran seaman had a story behind, a story which was shared by other members of the crews. He had a live, family and friends. He, and the other members of this expedition, abandoned them all forever in the pursuit of a dream.
Good journey "Jolly Old Hero" I sincerely hope we could meet each other someday.