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ARCTIC ARCHIPELAGO - The Searchers For Franklin

Robert John Le Mesurier McClure (1807-1873)

A Portrait of McClure in Field Garb

McClure, from Ireland, is yet another of those British naval officers who were involved in the business of finding out what became of Franklin.

McClure first comes to our historical attention at the time, just after becoming a lieutenat, he was appointed to the Terror which was then under the command of George Back. This was in 1836 when the Terror sailed forth to search for Franklin. She got stuck in ice even before she cleared Hudson's Strait. By September, the damaged Terror was back in England. Not much was gained by this expedtion.

In 1850, he was in command of the Investigator, one of two ships sent out after Franklin. The Investigator came in from the west, contrary to most which came in from the east. McClure went through the Bering Strait and found the polar sea. Keeping his heading, east, he ended up coming upon the western shores of Banks Island. (See Map.) Proceeding east along the northern coast of Banks Island - effectively following the Northeast (Northwest) Passage - the Investigator entered Mercy Bay, Banks Island, where she became entrapped in the ice. The Investigator was abandon. He and his party were rescued by a ship that was in these waters at the time, HMS Resolute.1 We read, "The rescue ships were in turn abandoned, and the party proceeded on foot to Beechey Island and then returned home by ship."2


1 McGoogan, Fatal Passage: The Story of John Rae, The Arctic Hero Time Forgot, p. 261).

2 See also my brief biographical sketch on Edward Belcher.

[A LISTING OF The Searchers For Franklin]

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Peter Landry