Irish Expedition - North West Passage
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Irish Expedition - North West Passage Irish Expedition - North West Passage
Irish Expedition - North West Passage Irish Expedition - North West Passage
Irish Expedition - North West Passage
Irish Expedition - North West Passage  
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North West Passage Expedition

Major Figures of the Past

1. Francis Rawdon Crozier (1796 - 1848)

Born in Banbridge, Co Down, son of Attorney at Law George Crozier of Banbridge and Dublin from Scottish Borders ancestors. He had a brilliant career exploring both in the Arctic and Antarctic and was involved in some of the most important expeditions of his time.

Having entered the Navy in 1810, he accompanied Captain Parry on two Arctic voyages (1821 - 27). He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. He sailed on the Cove with James Ross to rescue eleven whaling ships off the Davis Strait and was promoted captain on his return. He explored Antarctica between 1839 and 1843, as second in command to James Ross. Crozier was commander of the Terror on John Franklin's ill-fated expedition to the Arctic 1843. Franklin died in June 1847 leaving Crozier in command. Crozier managed to lead the surviving crew of 105 men towards George Back's Great Fish River estuary. They all perished. It is thought that scurvy and poor rations badly weakened a very experienced crew. Cape Crozier on King William Island is named after him.

A statue of Crozier stands in Church Square Banbridge, Co Down (surrounded by four sculptured polar bears).

2. Robert Le Mesurier McClure (1807 - 1873)

Born Main Street, Wexford. He was adopted and educated by General Le Mesurier, who sent him to Eton and Sandhurst. He entered the navy in 1824 serving in the Arctic expeditions of 1836 and 1848. He was first Lieutenant in Sir John Ross's expedition in search of Franklin in 1848. In 1850 he commanded Investigator sailing through the Magellan Strait and then north up the east Pacific to reach the Bering Strait. He took his ship to Bay of Mercy on Banks Island, and then by sledge he reached Winter Harbour Melville Island, the nearest point from the east reached by Edward Parry in 1819.

The final link in the sea route along the northern coast of Canada was thus discovered connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific via the Arctic Ocean. McClure Strait is now the name of this final link in the Northwest Passage. However, his difficulties were not over, he was icebound for two more winters and reduced his crew to half rations. He was forced to walk across the ice again and was eventually rescued by sledges from Captain Henry Kellett's Resolute. The combined crews managed only another 100 miles before it too was frozen in winter.

In June 1854 they abandoned Resolute and sledged to Beechey Island where they met another ship in which they reached the Atlantic. McClure was paid the 10,000 prize offered by parliament to the first person doing so, despite using three different ships and going from west to east in the process. He was knighted in 1854. He was promoted to Admiral after further service in Chinese waters.

3. Francis Leopold McClintock (1819 - 1907)

He was born in Dundalk, entered the navy in 1831 and was a Lieutenant by 1845. Between 1848 and 1852 he made his first voyage of discovery in the Arctic as captain of the Intrepid. In 1855 Lady Franklin commissioned him to make a search for her husband. He set out in Fox and eventually found the graves, belongings and remains of the ships of Franklin's expedition, including a cairn in which he found a written record of Franklin's death and Crozier's plan.

He published a very successful account of his findings, ran as Tory candidate in Drogheda 1868, and was promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral. McClintock Channel divides Victoria Island from Prince of Wales Island and Converges with Franklin Strait. 
more on McClintock 

4. Henry Kellett (1806 - 1871)

Henry Kellett who rose to become a vice Admiral in the Navy was born in Clonacody, Co Tipperary in 1806. He took part in four separate voyages between 1848 and 1853 in search of Franklin. With the navy men from Resolute and McClintock's Intrepid they built an Arctic storehouse with double sandstone walls and a timber supported canvas roof and stocked it with a complete inventory of supplies used in the mid 19th century. It was known as Kelletts Storehouse. Kellett rescued Robert McClure after he was icebound for nearly two years. Kellett's ship then became icebound.

They sledged to a third ship and all returned home safely. In 1849 Kellett became the first European to sight and chart Ostrov Vrangelya in the Chukchi Sea off the Siberian coast. Cape Kellett on the easternmost point of Banks Island is named after him. He died in Clonacody in 1871.

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