Ridley Scott’s Scary Series Offers Supernatural Answer To One Of History’s Greatest Mysteries – But The Real Story Is Far More Eerie

The Terror: It’s Master and Commander, With Monsters Producer Ridley Scott’s horror series, which originally aired on US channel AMC in 2018 and is finally coming to BBC Two, follows a cargo of arctic explorers on the run from a vengeful spirit that inhabit this frozen waste

The Ice Monsters may be fictional (at least we hope so), but the series is based on historical facts This is the last account of the Captain’s doomed 1845-1846 expedition John Franklin and Francis Crozier, and their two disturbingly named ships – Erebus (one of the rivers of the Greek underworld) and Terror

The 129 members of the expedition disappeared without a trace, and the wreckage of their ships was not found for over 150 years At this time, myths circulated about the fate of the crew Dan Simmons’ 2007 The Terror – the inspiration for the TV series – imagines occult forces at work The truth is almost as strange

Franklin (played onscreen by Ciarán Hinds) had a checkered reputation His military credentials were impeccable – he had served in the Battle of New Orleans and Trafalgar – but his career as an explorer of the ‘Arctic was in the throes of bad luck When in 1819 he attempted to map Canada’s north coast on foot, 11 of his 20 men died – and at least one was murdered The starving survivors were reduced to eating their own shoes and rumors of cannibalism cast a shadow over When Franklin left for a second trip to the Arctic in 1825, his wife – the famous romantic poet Eleanor Anne Porden – suffered from tuberculosis. She died shortly after setting sail

Franklin’s reputation was at its lowest in the 1840s An indiscriminate stint of six years as governor of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) had ended in 1843 amid political wrangling and savage attacks on his character in the local press Back in London and kicking in the heels, he quickly had the chance to redeem himself

Sir John Barrow, the dubious 82-year-old Admiralty Secretary, was gripped by the search for the Open Polar Sea – an iceberg-free shortcut to the Pacific via the North Pole Many had tried and failed at it find it, largely because it didn’t exist But in 1845 Barrow announced plans for a new expedition to locate it once and for all – or, failing that, to chart the Northwest Passage, a route safe around the canadian arctic archipelago

Franklin, almost 60 himself, was not the first choice But William Parry, the famous explorer who in 1819 almost succeeded in finding the Northwest Passage, refused to go. Barrow was James Clark Ross – who had successfully commanded Terror and Erebus across Antarctica – but Ross had promised his wife he would take a break from the disturbance of the poles.

In the end, Franklin was given command of the Erebus only because no one else wanted him Francis Crozier, a working-class Irish officer (played by Jared Harris in the TV drama) who had explored the ‘Antarctica with Ross, was chosen to lead the Terror as Franklin’s right-hand man

They left Greenhithe, Kent in May 1845, aboard two of the Royal Navy’s best ships, with enough provisions to feed them for three years After a brief stopover in the Orkney Islands they passed Greenland and in July came sight of British ships in Baffin Bay After that – nothing They were never seen again

Franklin’s fate was a famous cause, discussed daily in the press Lady Jane Franklin (the captain’s second wife) feared the worst, asking Parliament to act An anonymous ballad about her grief was published, titled “Lady Franklin’s Lament “; a century later, Bob Dylan changed the lyrics and recorded them under the title “Bob Dylan’s Dream”

The government has announced a reward of £ 20,000 – the equivalent of almost £ 2million today – for anyone who could track down and rescue the missing crew, or £ 10,000 for any whereabouts information Franklin’s disappearance gave him heroic new mystique; he was promoted to the rank of rear admiral, although he was not there to accept the role

None of the many research teams found Franklin, but Joe Biden has a reason to be grateful for their failure: it gave him a rather elegant desk

In 1852, Admiral Edward Belcher left with five ships and ended up immobilizing four in the ice One was HMS Resolute It was abandoned by the crew, who began an arduous march through the ice to safety – only to come across another group of desperate and frozen British sailors: Robert McClure and the crew of the investigator – another ship that had gone in search of Franklin two years earlier, before disappearing, with McClure missing and presumed dead

Like The Resolute, the investigator was left on the ice, and McClure’s crew crossed the country on foot and by sled – accidentally becoming the first to cross the Northwest Passage in the process. When he finally returned to Britain, McClure was awarded a knight’s title and £ 10,000 for the achievement

But the Resolute was to receive an even more heroic reception; the empty ship was recovered by an American whaler in 1855, restored by the American government and returned to Queen Victoria with great pomp as a gesture of goodwill a year later

When the Resolute finally retired in 1879, the Queen ordered a desk made from the ship’s wood, which she donated to President Rutherford B Hayes It has been used by almost every US President since then and can still be found in the Oval Office of the White House today.

Over the years, the Admiralty has become less enthusiastic about throwing its resources into a wild goose hunt across some of the world’s most dangerous seas. The turning point came in 1854 when newspapers got their hands on a leaked report by a Scottish surgeon called John Rae

Known to the Inuit as the Aglooka or “Long Strider,” Rae had been exploring northern Canada, mostly on foot, for a decade. He learned how to build igloos and, with the help of a translator Inuit called William Ouligback, befriended Inuit traders living near Naujaat, or Repulse Bay

One of them was looking to sell something unique: a silver plaque, engraved with the words “Sir John Franklin, KCH” Rae bought it at once – along with a handful of other relics of the Erebus From the testimonies of third of the inhabitants, he learned where they came from

Three years earlier, another Inuit group had sold a seal to a group of 40 starving Europeans, who were traveling with a small boat and sleds, having abandoned their icy boat Returning to the area a few months later, the Inuit found more than 30 corpses – some buried, others strewn on the ice.

In his report to the Admiralty, Rae wrote: “From the mutilated state of many corpses and the contents of the kettles, it is evident that our miserable compatriots had been led to the last resource – cannibalism – as a means to prolong the existence “

Rae’s letter made its way into The Times, sparking national outrage that forever marred his reputation His revelations were deemed too gruesome to be credited Rae received the promised reward of £ 10,000 for information, but unlike to almost everyone involved in Franklin’s search, he was never honored with a knighthood

Through a mutual friend, Lady Franklin got in touch with Charles Dickens – then editor of an influential bimonthly journal called Household Words – and asked him to dismantle Rae’s account.Dickens obliged, publishing a long essay offering other explanations for these gnawed corpses “Had there not been bears nearby, to mutilate these bodies; no wolves, no foxes? he wrote

Rae refused to budge “Neither bears, nor wolves, nor foxes, nor the most voracious of all, the wolverine or the wolverine, unless they are on the verge of starvation, will touch a human body dead, “he replied, speaking of his long experience in the Arctic

Yet Dickens had another theory at his fingertips Maybe “Franklin’s gallant gang” had been “attacked and killed by the Eskimos themselves” He attacked the Inuit like “a big handful of people uncivilized, with a domesticity of blood and fat “, before concluding:” We believe that every savage is in his heart greedy, treacherous and cruel”

This tirade succeeded in damaging Rae’s public reputation, but privately the Admiralty was included to believe it – and considered the matter closed They would no longer fund more expensive rescue missions Lady Franklin pleaded with them to keep trying, without success In 1857 she herself raised the money for a final search team, led by Irish explorer Francis McClintock on Lady Franklin’s little ship, the Fox

McClintock’s Diary From This Era Still A Captivating Read At one point he was close to starvation himself: “Our supplies were very short, so the three remaining puppies were necessarily slaughtered, and their sled used as fuel “But after months of” frost-bitten faces and fingers “a breakthrough occurred in March 1859

While camping at the Magnetic North Pole, McClintock encountered four Inuit men returning from a seal hunt and spotted a naval button on an Inuit man’s clothing He explained that the button had come from “some white people who were starving on an island”, who had traveled overland after their two ships got lodged in the ice. One ship sank, while the other forcibly ran aground at a place they called Ootloolik

Following their instructions, McClintock began searching for the remains of the ship, interviewing anyone he could find. An old woman remembers seeing the survivors’ long march on the ice – “They fell and died while walking along the ice”On May 25, he came across a gruesome piece of evidence to support his account: the bones of an officer’s servant, still in his ‘blue jacket with cut sleeves and braided edging’, which had apparently been left behind. behind while the others walked on without him

“Of this skeleton, only part of the skull appeared above the snow,” McClintock wrote, “and it looked so strongly like a bleached rounded stone that the man I called from the sled, Taking him for one, put his shovel on it, but he left in horror when the hollow sound revealed its true nature to him “

Meanwhile, his lieutenant William Hobson had split up to conduct a separate search – and made his own discovery “About 12 miles from Cape Herschel, I found a small cairn built by Hobson’s team and containing a note for me, ”wrote McClintock”He had found a record – the much sought after record of the Franklin Expedition – at Point Victory, on the northwest coast of King William’s Land”

The only sheet of paper had been sealed in a rusty tin can – the same type of poorly made container used for their food supplies, which is now believed to have caused the lead poisoning of the ‘Franklin crew

The note was signed by Graham Gore, a lieutenant on the Erebus, and shipmate Charles des Voeux “May 28, 1847 The ships HM Erebus and Terror wintered in the ice,” reads “Sir John Franklin commanding the All is well expedition “

At first, their message gave McClintock hope “Alas!” he wrote, “around the margin of the paper on which in 1847 these words of hope and promise were written,” a later, more desperate note was “weakly drawn”

This barely readable message, scribbled in the margins, was signed by Crozier and fellow crew member James Fitzjames He explained that they planned to travel many miles to the Hudson’s Bay Territories on along the Great Fish River, after abandoning their ships

“April 25, 1848 The ships HM Terror and Erebus were abandoned on April 22 having been assaulted since September 12, 1846,” he read “Sir John Franklin died on June 11, 1847; and the total loss of the dead in the The expedition has so far been nine officers and 15 men. This paper was found by Lt Irving under the cairn believed to have been built by Sir James Ross in 1831 where it had been deposited by the late Commander Gore in June 1847 “

McClintock was deeply moved by what he read “This late little note shows us that poor Graham Gore was one of those who died within twelve months,” he writes “In the space of twelve months, how dismal had become the history of the Franklin expedition; how changed from the happy ‘Everything’s fine’ Such a sad story has never been told in fewer words “

This was not the last trace of Gore Although McClintock never found the remains of the ship or the dozens of bodies described by the Inuit, a few days later he made one final discovery: the remains of ” a boat mounted on a sled that Crozier’s team was dragging across the ice

“There was in the boat what struck us with fear, namely, portions of two human skeletons!” One was that of a “youngster,” the other of a ” tall, well-built, middle-aged man “They were found with two rifles cocked and loaded, and half a dozen books – mostly religious, with the exception of a copy of the Vicar of Wakefield. One of the books was addressed to Graham Gore; a skeleton, he guessed, must have been Gore’s

McClintock was shocked to find the sleigh filled with “dead weight” He was carrying nearly 40 pounds of chocolate and an assortment of junk: “silk handkerchiefs towels, soap toothbrush and eleven hair combs large spoons, eleven forks and four teaspoons, all in silver two roles of lead, and, in short, a quantity of articles of one description and another truly astonishing in variety, and like, for the most part, modern sled travelers in these regions would consider a mere accumulation of dead weight, of little use, and very likely to break the strength of sled crews “

If Crozier’s crew hadn’t been slowed down by this trinket transport, some of them might have come back alive.After this grim discovery, McClintock was done with his search, returning to England where a chivalry awaited him

There were subsequent efforts to find traces of Franklin’s ships, but none bore fruit until 2014, when Canadian archaeologists using the same type of robotic devices deployed in the hunt for MH370 flight Malaysia Airlines eventually uncovered the wreckage of the Erebus near Queen Gulf Maud in Nunavut Human remains found nearby had knife marks on the bones, finally providing evidence to support John Rae’s cannibalism claims

Remarkably, just two years later, the Terror was discovered still lodged in ice 60 miles away, after an Inuit sailor, Sammy Kogvik, informed the head of the Canadian Research Foundation in the arctic of a large piece of wood he had seen protruding from the ice that looked exactly like a ship’s mast The discovery could have come sooner; Kogvik first spotted the mast six years earlier, but was unwilling to mention it to anyone at the time

Last October, the British government donated the wrecks to Canada, where they are preserved for future generations.With the discovery of Franklin’s ships, it seems most of our questions have been answered – but the feeling of mystery created by a century’s research can never really be dispelled The Terror proves that the story of this doomed journey can still capture the imagination

We strongly encourage you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future.

The Terror

World News – UK – The Truth Behind The Terror: How an Arctic Expedition Became a Horror Story for the History Books

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/0/truth-behind-terror-arctic-expedition-became-horror-story-history/