So much to my excitement (being so very obsessed with the Franklin Expedition) my Google news feed alerted me to the breaking news of the discovery of the HMS Terror on September 3rd.
After all the searching, it turns out all they had to do was listen to the Inuit tribes who have been telling them for years exactly where the two ships were located, but these people, (who, bear in mind, don’t keep written records of anything; all their history and learning is passed along purely by word of mouth and stories, so their entire lives centre on the information they are passing down being 100% correct) were binned off as being untrustworthy. Ridiculous. Nearly two centuries of searching for these ships and I bet the Inuit were rolling their eyes when one of us yelled “Lordy! We’ve jolly well found those ships!”.
Aaanyway. The Terror was always my favourite of the two ships,
it having a cooler name because it seems like the more hardcore one; like the more upper class of the sailors were put on the Erebus with John Franklin so they could all be posh together, and the riff-raff were put on the Terror. I bet the parties were way cooler on the Terror. Plus, thanks to Dan Simmons, I feel a bit like I was ON the Terror for a good while (albeit in my head whilst reading the book), so I’ve a bit of a love affair with the ship.
Of course, as per usual, I digress.
According to a recent news story, some Scottish researchers have compared the medical journals kept by the staff on the ships which were sent looking for the ill-fated expeditions, since the conditions, of the environment, men and the ships themselves, were all similar, to get a good idea of what might have been the downfall of so many deaths in such short a space of time.
Up until now, the theory, as most of you will know, is scurvy, lead poisoning and towards the end of their lives, starvation.
The Scottish researchers however have brought a new theory into play which suggests that scurvy, tuberculosis and lead poisoning, whilst have a small effect on the crews, were not enough to wipe them out in such large numbers. The crews of the search ships did not suffer from any of those problems en-masse, rather a limited number of individuals, no more than would have been normal for that time in history. These researchers are putting the deaths down to accidents, whilst out hunting for food on the rough terrain. Accidents rather than ill health or disease. They believe accidents more likely as the ships were navigated to their resting places deliberately, and this would have required significant man-power, which could hardly be achieved by a bunch of half mad (from lead poisoning), scurvy infested, half-dead sailors.
Alas, we wait in anticipation to see what treasures can be recovered from the Terror (fingers crossed the medical records, although it’s doubtful unless they engraved the records into water-resistant titanium) once the search starts up again.