Quite a while ago my friend, Martin Kellett, asked me about the graves in this image “Headstones on Dealy Island of Kellett’s Men”. In total 5 men from Resolute and Intrepid died during the Belcher Expedition. Three of them died while Kellett’s 1852-1853 winter camp was still in place off Dealy Island before Resolute & Intrepid headed back east during the autumn of 1853. The remaining two men died in 1854.
The men are listed in date order of their deaths:
Thomas Mobley died on 19 October 1852. From the small village of Buckland, in Buckinghamshire, Thomas was a 39 year old Private in the Royal Marines, and had first enlisted in the Royal Navy on 12 April 1834. He mustered in to served onboard Resolute on the 21st of February 1852. (All the rest of the men who died were serving on Intrepid.) He died near the close of the autumn sledging trips, while everyone anxiously awaited the return of the final team led by McClintock. Having a weak heart, Dr. Domville had hoped to preserve Thomas’ health by keeping him on light duties. When, on 18 October, Mobley tried going outside without wearing proper clothing, the shock of the cold air made him turn back. Upon reaching the deck his heart stopped and he immediately collapsed. He had been well liked by his shipmates and the Intrepids, and his sudden death badly affected everyone. The sadness permeated Resolute, and McDougall wrote:
“Few things in my somewhat eventful life, have produced a more saddening effect than that occasioned by the death of this man-who was beloved and respected by all onboard…the respect of the officers and men toward him was sincere. He was beloved by his shipmates for his amiable qualities, and respected by the officers for his trustworthy character…an upright man, and I believe a sincere Christian, he died as he had lived- ‘the noblest work of God’ -an honest man.”
The Royal Marines were formed into divisions. The first 3 divisions were based in Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth. The 4th division was established at Woolwich from 1805 – 1869. Each division consisted of several infantry companies, and these were numbered. Mobley mustered from the Woolwich Division, and his infantry company number was 92.
George Drover, died on 12 December 1852. George was Intrepid’s fo’c’le captain. Variously recorded as being 27 and 33 years old, he was from Alverstone, Hampshire, on the Isle of White, and had served on HMS Assistance during the 1850-1851 Austin Expedition. He was a Woolwich volunteer who mustered in onboard Resolute on 24 February 1852. Dr. Domville recorded pleuritis as the cause of his death. (The same as pleurisy, it is the painful inflammation of the tissues that separate the lungs from the chest wall.) George had crossed Melville Island between 14 September and 2 October 1852. He then set out again on HM Sledge Hero on 7 October, but he had to return that same day because he was feeling unwell, and he remained on the sick list util his death. His funeral service was on 19 December and McClintock had him buried next to Thomas Mobley.
John Coombes, who died on 12 May 1853, was born in St. Stevens, Cornwall. He mustered in onboard Resolute on 24 February 1852 to serve as a stoker onboard Intrepid. At the time he had been serving on Victoria & Albert and was 32 years and 9 months old. Resolute’s Muster Book reveals he was 5 feet, 9 inches tall, had a fair complexion, grey eyes and brown hair, and was married. John had spent his entire working life in the Royal Navy. Before the Belcher Expedition he had served on:
HMS Gordon (1839-1842)
HMS Styx (1842-1844)
HMS Stromboli (1844-1847)
HMS Victoria & Albert (1848-1852)
Coombes died while sledging under the command of Francis Leopold McClintock. They were returning to the ships, and McClintock’s men had joined De Bray’s team on the way. After an autopsy, Dr. Domville recorded his death as being caused by hypertrophy of the heart and pulmonary apoplexy.
From the American Mayo Clinic’s website,
“Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick (hypertrophied). The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy often goes undiagnosed because many people with the disease have few, if any, symptoms and can lead normal lives with no significant problems. However, in a small number of people with HCM, the thickened heart muscle can cause shortness of breath, chest pain or problems in the heart’s electrical system, resulting in life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) or sudden death.”
Below are the two remaining “Kellett Men” who died during the Belcher Expedition.
Thomas Hood died on 2 January 1854. He was a Private in the Royal Marines, and first enlisted in the Royal Navy on 16 June 1841. Born in Brewood, Staffordshire, a small village (just NW of Birmingham, Staffordshire), he was 30 years old when he mustered in on 21 February 1852 for service on Intrepid. He was among the Royal Marine Woolwich volunteers, and his infantry company number was 60.This is what I wrote about him in my new manuscript:
Only two days into the new year Intrepid’s Royal Marine Thomas Hood died. He was one of the experienced Arctics, and McClintock knew him well because they’d traveled together in 1851 on a ninety day sledge journey during the Austin Expedition. He’d been ill for a long time with a chest complaint and died after suffering a heart attack. While his shipmates had expected his death, it was still seen as an ill omen for the new year to begin with his funeral. In his will he left five pounds and all his clothes to his friend, Jeremiah Shaw, who had nursed him through his illness. He left everything else to his sister.
The final Kellett man to die was Intrepid’s ice quartermaster James Wilkie on 2 February 1854, exactly one month to the day after Hood. 37 years old when he mustered in, his nickname was “Stoneman” and he was born in Dartmouth, Devon, was only 36 years old, and left a wife and three children. Stoneman Wilkie was also an experienced Arctic, having served with Hood twice, during the 1848-1849 Ross Expedition, and in the 1850 – 1851 Austin Expedition.
McDougall wrote about them in his journal, noting both were respected for their strength and endurance: “Poor Wilkie, ice quartermaster of the ‘Intrepid’, breathed his last at 3AM, of disease of the heart and effusion of the chest. He had been on the sick list nearly the whole winter, but was not considered in danger until within about three weeks of his death…It is a sad reflection that Intrepid should have lost no less than four out of her crew of thirty souls, being nearly one-seventh of the whole…The following day, the 3rd, all that remained of poor Wilkie was consigned to the grave, just as the first beams of the long absent sun tinged the southern horizon.”
From my ms I wrote:
What a difficult juxtaposition of feelings the men must have felt, those of loss and sadness, against that of relief. Even the well-attended lecture series couldn’t lift the cloud of gloom these deaths left behind.
After Kellett sent his report to Belcher the Resolutes and Intrepids had to wait for the sledging party’s return.
(From my manuscript)
During this time the officers organised races and wrestling matches. Kellett, with McClintock on his back, raced Pim and, rather suspiciously, won easily. Richard Roche described the festivities in his journal:
8 Aug 53 All hands from both ships went on shore…where a race course had been measured off. Various matches were made, the men running for sweepstakes of 1, 2, and 3 pounds sterling. Several (both officers and men) stripped and ran in drawers and stockings so eager were they for the winning. The Captain ran 50 yards, carrying Captain McClintock on his back, while Pim ran 100 yards in 14 seconds and 300 yards in 46 seconds. Most of the officers ran 150 yards for sweepstakes and Nares (being a long legged young fellow) carried off the first prize. We returned on board by 2 o’clock, the Captain, in a fit of generosity, and in consideration of the fatigue we had undergone, served out a pint of beer all round. I realised 1 pound 10 shillings by the above transactions.
In mid August the ice broke up and Kellett prepared the ships for sailing. With anticipation of an open run, everyone’s spirits filled with soaring joy but, just as the sails were set, the winds shifted and the floe ice solidly blocked the channel ahead of them from Melville Island to the northernmost tip of Byam Martin. The men pretended a philosophical indifference to this turn of events, but most couldn’t hide their disappointment. These fits and starts continued to plague them as they kept trying to make headway towards Beechey Island. But by the beginning of September they began doubting they could reach their goal. Kellett shifted supplies between the ships in case he’s have to order them to separate. He planned to send Intrepid ahead alone if it looked like Resolute wouldn’t get through.
The lookout in Resolute’s crows nest on 11 September saw nothing but ice in all directions. Kellett’s ships were in danger of having to make winter camp drifting in the pack ice. The only consolation was the pack kept moving slowly eastward. If it didn’t crush them, by spring they should be closer to Beechey Island. The pressure of the ice all around caused many eerie and startling sounds, putting the men on edge. Though written about the Antarctic, the Resolutes and Intrepids would’ve recognised Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s description of ice in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
And now there came both mist and snow,
And it grew wondrous cold:
And ice, mast-high, came floating by,
As green as emerald.
And through the drifts of snowy cliffs
Did send a dismal sheen:
Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken-
The ice was in-between.
The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around:
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound!
The days passed with a succession of storms while the pack continued to move ESE. Some days they could sail, others a sudden squall would force them to reduce canvas. On 9 September at 01:30 a strong westerly quickly moved the ships along, but in less than an hour a mass of thick, icy sludge stopped Resolute. This time Intrepid towed her out of the nearly impassable ice soup to stable land ice where the men secured both ships.
Kellett sent out hunting parties after spotting a herd of thirty-five muskox. They successfully killed eleven, yielding 1,970 pounds of meat. The day after the hunt Kellett called McClintock and McClure into his cabin to review options. A few hours later, Kellett took the Intrepid aheadto check the state of the ice. Before leaving, Kellett ordered enough supplies brought out of Resolute’s hold to supply seventy men through 1 June 1854 and put them onboard Intrepid. McDougall interpreted this order to mean Kellett would leave Resolute behind if it looked like only the steamship Intrepid could get through.
Later that afternoon McDougall received the signal that he should sail Resolute east to join Intrepid. Only a few minutes after reaching the steam tendera slurry of young ice stopped them again. This time Resolute didn’t budge. They lit Bickford’s fuses, Resolute didn’t budge. They rigged hawsers from both her sides sides to pull and rock her. Resolute didn’t budge. Kellett ordered lines to Intrepid. Resolute made an modicum of progress. But around midnight the ice formed up and stopped our gallant ships.
By 20 September Kellett accepted they had to prepare winter camp on the floe ice. They stowed the topgallant yards and furl the jibs and trysails. As other camp prep took place, some Resolute’s were taken completely by surprise, only a short time after being beset, to find the ice was already 20 feet deep.
Wintering in the pack was dangerous: its instability and movement put the ships at great risk of being crushed. if the floe headed southward and they had to abandon ship, they’d have a much longer trek to North Star. Kellett faced a claustrophobic winter with Resolute and Intrepid so overcrowded. Without secure surrounding land, he couldn’t off load supplies, leaving the deck cluttered with equipment.
Space was so cramped that McClure and Kellett, sharing a tiny cabin, found that one man had to stay in bed while the other washed and dressed; there wasn’t room for two to stand upright. And when the steward came to tidy the room, both [Kellett and McClure] had to go out onto the cold deck…
26 April 2021 blog post:
[From my manuscript: as always italicised print indicates material quoted in the ms]
The Resolutes and Intrepids had initially greeted the Investigators with enthusiasm, and the Investigators, on their part, returned this with their own heartfelt gratitude. Investigator’s translator Johann Miertsching, a Moravian Brothers missionary who could speak Inuit, recorded their initial reception:
I was conducted to the Captain’s cabin, where for the first time in sixteen days I had a decent wash and put on clothes and linen leant me by Captain Kellett. After breakfasting with the two captains [Kellett and McClure], and drinking my first cup of coffee in two and a half years, I went to rest and enjoyed a refreshing sleep until 2 o’clock when I was called for lunch. The ship Intrepid- two hundred paces from the Resolute- has been set up as a hospital for the sick, and twenty two men of our company placed there immediately.
(McClure had told Miertsching to leave his journals behind, but on Resolute he wrote a new one using paper, pens, and ink Kellett, Domville, and DeBray gave him.)
Space was seriously short on both ships:
As for comfortable quarters on board, they lie beyond our sphere of knowledge…On the Intrepid our lot…[is bad] for we have neither the necessary bedding nor warm cabins. Our beds consist of two woollen blankets (coverlets) , one of which each man brought in his sleeping-bag from the Investigator, and the other issued to us here; more cannot be given us for there is no more to give; and our cabins, framed of canvas instead of plank, are so cold that the temperature never rises above freezing point.
Nerves had started fraying before the ice formed up around the ships; then Kellett had to initiate reduced rations. The Investigator’s carpenter George Ford had already begun complaining before summer ended:
We have no place to sit down or wash and but for [Resolute’s carpenter] Mr. Dean’s kindness no place to get our food. All that we have to sleep on is a blanket and buffalo robe we brought with us in a haversack. The men have been doing all the most servile work while this ship’s company does nearly nothing, and part of them officers’ servants. We have never received the least extra to renew our strength, noting but barely the ship’s allowance whilst the traveling parties of this ship on returning got preserved milk, Normandy pippens (sic).
Every Resolute and Intrepid had donated portions of their rations and any extra blankets, but felt their sacrifices weren’t appreciated. When the Investigators excluded them from their celebration it added insult to injury. Miertsching recorded the unpleasant mood in both ships, claiming his shipmates’d been nothing but amiable. But their actions spoke louder than his words as the Investigators followed their captain’s lead in showing no gratitude.
Resolute had a serious condensation problem this winter, probably due to the extra men. Kellett lit all the stoves before building the snowbanks around her to try drying her out as much as possible. It didn’t really help. During October the men alternated between winterising jobs and playing games like rounders on the ice. By the end of the month they’d built a snow depot alongside Resolute, cleared most of the main deck and had secured the tent over it.
The Resolutes, Intrepids, and Investigators welcomed in November by celebrating Guy Fawkes Day. As morning dawned on 5 November masked, blacked-up and disguised Resolutes played music and drew a sledge with their Guy on it to Intrepid, where their stuffed Guy waited upon her deck. They sang, delivered an address to McClintock, played more music then returned to Resolute. An hour later the Intrepids did the same. As night fell Kellett lit an enormous bonfire and the men threw both ships’ gunpowder-filled Guys onto it. The Arctic resounded to explosions, fired rockets and loud huzzahs. Kellett served up double rum rations to close the festivities. Although the Investigators had been included, Ford wasn’t happy: his only words about the celebrations were complaints about the Investigators still being subjected to punishment for their Northwester Day.
After Roche returned to Resolute from Pim’s Investigator rescue mission, Kellett began strength training the men while carpenter Dean completed the finishing touches on the captain’s sledge, HM Sledge Erin. (All of the sledges had names, flags and mottos.) Kellett had the men haul gravel on their sledges to the ships. Not only did this increase their strength but, with the new ballast in the holds, it also prepared the ships for sailing later in the summer.
Additionally, Kellett distributed extra travelling clothes to the men. Roche recorded some thoughts about his in an unpublished journal:
“For a short party of twenty or thirty days, the spare drawers, flannel shirt, one pair of stockings, one pair of wrappers, towel and soap, may be dispensed with…I never wore myself a single particle of cloth whilst traveling, a suit of chamois leather answered the purpose of keeping out the wind and was not near so heavy….In the severest cold two pair of woollen drawers and one pair of duck overalls are quite sufficient…In the warm months one pair of drawers and the chamois drawers will be ample. In lieu of the thick flannel waistcoat a thin chamois leather waistcoat worn outside two thick flannels with or without a shirt, over which in cold weather [one can add] a duck overall jumper. On the feet one pair stockings, one pair blanket wrappers, boot hose and moccasins soled with leather [were] the usual ‘rig’ of the travellers. With these I used to wear a pair of sealskin boots (hair inside) soled with leather. I found these very comfortable. They seldom required cleaning inside. and I never had cold feet with them.”
He did not have cold feet, but I would hazzard a guess that very few of his shipmates got within a few feet of him if they could help it! In their shared tents they may have fallen asleep quickly to avoid the results of Roche’s cut-back wardrobe.
Word Press seems to have lost my last update, so I am redoing it here Sunday 7 March 2021, from my manuscript:
On the morning of departure day, 4 April, Kellett raised a flag on Dealy Island’s summit, then the officers joined him for a large breakfast. Afterward everyone assembled on the ice. The sledges, arranged in divisions, pointed toward their directions of travel. With flags fluttered in the breeze Kellett gave a rousing speech, followed by enthusiastic cheering. He wasn’t an overly religious man but after the cheering died down he offered a prayer.
McClintock and De Bray led the largest team, headed NW for Hecla and Griper Bay. McClintock’s Star of the North, carried a smaller satellite sledge. McClintock’s men were: Captain of Sledge George Green, Ice Quartermaster; Henry Giddy, Bo’s’u’n’s Mate; John Salmon, Fo’c’sle Captain; Royal Marine Privates John Hiccles and Jeremiah Shaw; Richard Kitson, John Drew (replacing Thomas Hood) and Richard Warne, Able Bodied Seamen.
McClintock’s orders from Kellett were to carefully examine the NW coasts…
‘…for traces of the missing, and depositing records in conspicuous places for the combined purpose of a search for traces of Sir John Franklin, and of depositing notices in conspicuous places as to where supplies are left (for any parties that might reach such positions from Captain Collinson’s [ships]…you will keep ample notes, or remarks on the new coast you will have to travel along, a journal of your proceedings, and obtain data for putting on paper the coast or islands you may discover. To assist the memory in protracting your walking journey (and future navigators), you will name on your skeleton chart all capes, bays, islets, &c, if possible, from something characteristic of themselves. On the same chart you should lay off daily the true course you have been steering, and the estimated distance you have marched, leaving for your return the correction of this dead reckoning by the astronomical observations you may be enabled to obtain, and without sacrificing to them time might be occupied in marching.
Possessing as you do the same opinion with myself, that yours is a most important direction for search, I feel confident that your personal exertions will be equal to the importance of your mission, and that those under your command will vie with each other in seconding you.
It now only remains for me to assure you of the deep interest I feel for your own personal welfare and success, as well as of those under your command.‘
De Bray had the sledge Hero and eight men: Captain of the Sledge John Cleverly, Gunner’s Mate; James Miles, Leading Stoker; Samuel Deane, Carpenter’s Mate; Alexander Johnstone, Steward; William Walker, Stoker; Robert Ganniclift and Thomas Hartnell, Able Bodied Seamen.
In De Bray’s orders Kellett indicated his high regard for McClintock, an active officer…‘…whose example you will do well to follow… and I feel assured that from the zeal you have manifested in the equipment of your sledge as well as in the other matters connected with traveling, you will do great credit to the distinguished service to which you belong.’
Kellett accompanied McClintock for seven days, with Erin, and Richard Hobbs, William Johnson, Frederick Brooke, William Kluth, James Cornelius, Thomas St. Croix and John Halloran to create a cairn of supplies…
Hamilton headed to NE Melville Island, then he would circle round to Hecla and Griper Bay, with George Murray, Ice Quartermaster; William Colwill, Blacksmith; Royal Marine David Ross, Abraham Surry, Cooper. Joseph Bacon, cook, and Able-Bodied Seamen John Coglin and Thomas Wilson on the sledge Hope. So few men remained the departing men could hardly hear their enthusiastic cheers. Mecham and Nares, heading due west, had the advantage of a favourable easterly wind and raised their sails. The other teams had to struggle without help from the wind gods. As a result, after traveling nine hours, McClintock’s team only covered 10 ½ miles. By the evening the weather improved, but rough terrain, ‘cheerless and forbidding in the extreme…’ dashed their high hopes the next morning. When a northerly wind worked itself into a full gale on the 6TH, it caused the temperatures to drop to -10°F, blowing right into their faces and the snow reduced their visibility to only 20 – 30 yards. The men struggled to erect their tents in deep snow drifts. They remained in them for four days, where -11°F and cramped conditions meant…
‘...our sleeping bags and furs [were] very wet, the snow-drift having penetrated from without, and the condensed vapour from our provisions, our breath, and the evaporation from our bodies, from within.‘
The gale ended on the 11TH allowing the men to spread their bags and furs in the bright sunshine. When they broke camp they found the snow had filled the deep ravines making their work much more difficult and dangerous. But the intrepid explorers carried on and eventually reached their autumn cairns. These men navigated hummocks and ravines, battling thick fog and raging snow storms while the rugged terrain chewed up their wooden sledges, keeping the carpenters busy. To augment their diet they hunted muskox and reindeer, hares and ptarmigan, which boosted both their strength and morale.
On 11 April Kellett and his men returned to camp, where the remaining Resolutes and Intrepids had spring cleaned and repaired both ships. Although Kellett had set his shoulder to many an arduous task over the past 30 years, he admitted sledge hauling was the most difficult labour he’d ever undertaken. Working along side his men had given him greater sympathy for them, and valuable insight into the effort required. Seeing his willingness to pitch in increased the men’s regard for Kellett too.
McClintock and Hamilton parted ways on 13 April. McClintock and De Bray continued heading NW and Hamilton, after depositing provisions, turned back south. Hoisting sails had its own dangers…”
9 March 2021 Blog Post: 1853 spring sledging continued, from my manuscript (italicised passages are quotes within my ms):
“Sometimes the wind was too strong: one day a sledge turned turtle three times. When McClintock reached the Camp Nias Cairn the provisions, thankfully, were still in good condition. McClintock took apart Captain Parry’s nearby 1822 monument to check for any recent records. Finding none he left the usual notices, and then headed toward Cape Fisher. Once again a gale forced them to make camp, though this time for only one day. The 17TH was calm and they continued towards the cape, making good time until two days later when their sledges started falling apart.
Out of 68 rivets in my sledge, 32 were found broken and 14 rivets were broken in the Hero, in fact, all the rivets in the dead flat of both sledges are gone, but near the extremes where there is little or no spring in the runner they are as firm as ever.
McClintock and De Bray reached Cape Fisher on 19 April at midday. The ice there was much easier to traverse. They saw a herd of 15-16 muskox, but all the wily beasts escaped. The following day they had better luck and McClintock shot a bull. His two female companions remained with him, resolutely facing the men. In order to carry away the dead ox the Intrepids had to chuck stones at them to drive them off.
As the days lengthened, and the bright sunshine began melting the snow, the danger of snow blindness grew. McClintock would soon have to begin night traveling. Passing Grassy Cape, the men made good progress sledging on the easy and level shore ice. They reached the most northwesterly point of Melville Island on the 30TH at Sandy Point, after which the coast lead off to the SW. Sadly, Thomas Hood’s health began deteriorating: he had severe pain in his side and began spitting blood. On 1 May McClintock made the difficult decision to send Hood back to Resolute, and the following day De Bray and several others departed with him on Hero. En route Stoker John Coombs, having been in perfect health, suddenly sank to the ground and was dead before anyone could reach him. De Bray wrapped his body in canvas and continued east, arriving at Resolute midday on 18 May.
Meanwhile McClintock continued south. By 5 May he was just north of Terrace Cape where he sent Star of the North to search Ibbett Bay. Then, taking six days’ supplies with his small satellite sledge, and Giddy and Drew, McClintock headed south into much rougher terrain, hoping to cross paths with Mecham. The small sledge allowed him more manoeuvrability as he headed toward Cape Terrace. From the top of a hill on the following day McClintock named the bay below him Purchase Bay, for Intrepid’s senior engineer. Continuing south McClintock built another cairn on a conspicuous spot, leaving a message for Mecham. Then, finding no traces of any missing men, his team headed north again and on the 8TH camped near Ibbett Bay. Crossing it McClintock met the rest of his men led by Green on Star of the North, who reported finding no Franklin or Collinson traces anywhere around the bay. The men feasted on McClintock’s fresh muskox in such quantity that, had they been back home they…
…couldn’t eat half so much…as they can here, and even if they could, they would be ashamed to do so.
The reunited team travelled toward Cape De Bray, reaching their depot on the 11TH at 03:15. After resupplying, they headed across the strait toward unexplored land. Their heavily laden sledges and newly fallen snow made headway extremely difficult. When McClintock checked the weight on Star of the North he found, to his horror, each man was hauling 65 pounds over the 215 pound limit. He helped unload half the gear, took the sledge four miles ahead, where they offloaded the rest. Returning to the provisions left behind, they reloaded and brought them forward. Continuing this time consuming process they gradually made their way across the strait hauling manageable weight…
11 March 2021 Spring Sledging 1853 continued:
The men hauling their sledges used up a great deal of fuel. From the Arctic Blue Books we can see an example of what the men were eating:
“We now consume a kettle full of stewed venison for supper, and ⅔ of a pound of pemican each for breakfast, besides a pint of chocolate; we also have ¾ pound of bacon for luncheon, and ¾ pound of biscuit daily. The kettle is capable of holding 13 pints of water, and is always crammed full of meat for supper, yet, this we consider a ‘light meal’ when divided amongst the nine of us. If we had the fuel to cook with, we wouldn’t restrict ourselves, now the fresh meat is abundant; and I think still more liberal allowance than we enjoy at present would be beneficial to the men.“
By mid May McClintock was exploring along the coast of Prince Patrick Island, and some smaller islands along its northern shore. From my ms:
“When [McClintock] arrived at Resolute and Intrepid on 18 July [he and his men had] been away an unprecedented 105 days, covering 1,408 miles averaging 10½ miles daily, of which 768 miles were new territory. McClintock didn’t, however, connect with Mecham or Nares, who were completing their own extraordinary journeys.”
First Lieutenant George Mecham had the sedge Discovery, and was away for 91 days, from 4 April to 6 July. Born in 1828 in Cove, County Cork Mecham was an Irishman like Kellett . His men were James Tullett, Bo’s’un’s Mate; John Weatherall, A.B.; Charles Nisbett, A.B.; James Butler, A.B.; William Manson, A.B.; William Humphries, Private Royal Marine; Samuel Rogers, Private Royal Marine. Discovery carried 40 days’ provisions and 100 days’ equipment, and Kellett’s orders for Mecham were to complete:
…the most persevering and extended search along the SW coast of Melville Island for our missing countrymen, or traces…you will take command of HM Sledge Discovery, manned with seven men, and…Perseverance also manned with seven men…[and] will proceed to Winter harbour, and from thence across the land to Lidden Gulf, following the coast of Melville Island westerly as far as practicable, returning to this ship without fail by 15th of July…You and Commander McClintock are both marching west…[and if you meet with] time and provisions left…you will consult with him, and do what you think best for the advancement of the object of our mission…Yourself being a veteran in Arctic traveling, and also some under your command, I have great expectations from your journey; I feel confident that you will attempt anything for the good of the service you are about to be employed on.
12 March 2021 Blog Post:
Kellett always made his men feel valuable members of the team. His orders to Nares, who was young and inexperienced, are a perfect example of Kellett’s leadership style:
[From my manuscript] George Nares was in charge of Perseverance. His men wereThomas Joy, Ice Quartermaster; Thomas West, Captain of the Main Top; George Kelly, Captain of the Fore Top; James Le Patsurel, Captain of the Hold; William Griffiths, A.B.; William Bailey, Private Royal Marine. Perseverance was out 58 days, until 1 June. Nares completed a detailed survey of Cape Bounty and environs on his return, brought back the game he’d hunted en route. Kellett’s orders included morale boosting words:
‘Lieutenant Mecham…in the autumn, spoke so highly of your exertion, zeal, and care of your party…[I am] confident that you will ably and efficiently second him in this very important line of search.‘
What follows is another example of Kellett’s ability to manage his men. His way filtered down through the ranks, as his officers tended to treat the men in their charges in similar ways:
[from my manuscript] If the parties crossed paths Kellett didn’t place Mecham under the command of the superior officer, instead he trusted Mecham and McClintock to reach agreement together on a way forward. Departing on 4 April and heading SW, and steering for Cape Bounty, Mecham and Nares searched the entire south coast of Melville Island, thick with bays and inlets. They then crossed the same strait as McClintock had, to explore the southern area of the newly named Prince Patrick Island. The deep snow made for heavy traveling, and unlike the parties heading due west, Mecham’s team couldn’t use their sails this first day. That afternoon James Butler fell from the hauling ropes to collapse in exhaustion. However, like a true Brit, he revived after a rest and a cup of tea. On the second day they raised their sails. After making camp, Mecham issued grog all round to celebrate William Humphries’ 21 years of naval service.