The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #80303 Message #1636918
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
29-Dec-05 - 05:36 PM
Thread Name: Happy! - April 16
Subject: RE: Happy! - April 16 (Sir John Franklin)
Sir John Franklin (not Lord) had 129 crewmen on the ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. All were lost. No written accounts were ever found, except the one note on Franklin's death, found in a cairn by M'Clintock, along with many artifacts.
The mummified body of stoker John Torrington, identified by a plaque on the coffin, was found on Beechey Island. He had died Jan. 1, 1846. Bone, hair and tissue samples were sent to the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, and other Edmonton laboratories.
Lead levels of 413 to 657 ppm were found in the hair samples. High levels were also obtained from samples taken from John Hartnell and William Braine, two more preserved bodies.
Examination of tinned food among the artifacts showed that the cans had lead solder (90% lead, 10% tin). It was estimated that each sailor would have been allotted half a pound of tinned food every second day. It is evident that lead contributed to the declining health of Franklin's men, and probably Franklin himself. Tuberculosis and pneumonia also played a part in some deaths. The fact that the officers died earlier than the men may be explained by their use of pewter tableware with high percentages of lead, in addition to lead from the tins. The men who died in the death march of the spring and summer of 1848 probably suffered from anorexia, weakness, fatigue and paranoia as a result of the lead.
Further note: Sir John Franklin was Captain of HMS Erebus; Francis R. M. Crozier was captain of HMS Terror. Four boys, two on each ship, are among the dead.
Owen Beattie and John Geiger, 1987, "Frozen in Time," Western Producer Prairie Books, and later more technical publications.