HMS Resolute & Intrepid in 1853 The Widening Search

Captain Kellett’s Spring 1853 Report to Belcher

From my manuscript: Kellett’s report “…began in autumn 1852, covered the voyage from Beechey to Dealy, making camp, autumn sledging, and Mecham’s discovery of McClure’s message. Kellett described their winter theatricals and lectures, explaining he’d sent Pim as early as possible in the spring to Investigator, where Pim’d arrived just as McClure was preparing his weakest men for a cross-Arctic death march. He described the Investigators’ arrival at Resolute, medical conditions, and ultimately his order for the abandonment of Investigator.

Kellett wrote up his plans for the upcoming summer and autumn, then detailed what he would do if Resolute and Intrepid broke free from the ice in August. He informed Belcher he intended to send Intrepid to Beechey Island with all the Investigators, so they could sail to England on the first available ship. He asked Belcher to send Intrepid back the following year with another vessel carrying food, clothing, and fuel. If it was necessary to leave Resolute they would head east for Beechey after leaving a depot for Collinson. He added, at the time of writing, he knew nothing about the Enterprises.

Don’t think of waiting for me yourself. Leave me a vessel at Beechey Island, and a good depot, sufficient to place us on full allowance when we get there, and to sustain us for a winter. It will be necessary for North Star to have her water complete, and as  many casks as she can fill besides, in readiness to supply any vessel that may reach her…and all the provisions she can spare landed in a secure depot…and all will be well. All my traveling parties left in the highest spirits, in the best possible condition, and admirably equipped. I am most anxious for the results of their journeys. If Sir John Franklin’s ships are ever to be found, I think they will [be] now….It is very painful for me to be obliged to send away Mr. Roche with this party; it looks as if I wanted to get rid of him, or that I could most easily spare him. On the contrary, he is one of my most efficient officers…His crew think they are disgraced by being sent away; not so, they are all excellent men; their only fault is they eat. You will be pleased to hear…they have all vied with each other in performance of their duty, and also in pleasing me. My next letter will show what stuff they’re made of.

Kellett signed and sealed the report, and gave it to Roche, who departed with the report, Beauty, Cresswell, Wyniatt, and ten men that same day, headed for North Star.

By Elizabeth Matthews

Leading authority on HMS Resolute

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