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I%&BL%-'B)2#J%''B-(&# 40.9%0'M#K)-)(%E%-'# 8%-)-'#NB-L#O%0PBQ%&# R2.Q3#K)-)(%E%-' the names of his two ships – Erebus (meaning darkness, Erebus was the son of the Greek god Chaos!) and Terror! – may have been inevitable. Both ships were lost and 129 men died. Some five years after the ships’ departure, a voyage was organised to search for the missing polar explorers. Two ships set sail – the Enterprise under the control of Captain Collison, and the Investigator, commanded by Robert McClure on which Cresswell was second Lieutenant. Only the Investigator went on to sail through Cape Horn and the Bering Strait and thus navigate the North West Passage. From 1851 to 1853 however, the Investigator became trapped in ice and the crew nearly perished through lack of food. Still, many of the crew did become invalided and on news that Captain Henry Kellett’s ship was within reach, McClure ordered Cresswell to transport six invalids across no less than 160 miles of icy terrain to the ship. Amazingly enough, Creswell’s mission was completed without loss of life and on his return to the Investigator McClure sent him to Beechey Island with more men. As the ice allowed the ship to travel, Cresswell boarded the rescue vessel for home. On returning late in 1853, he gave news that the North West Passage had been discovered and Parry declared him the first person to transverse this route. Cresswell became quite the celebrity – especially to the townspeople of King’s Lynn, and was the guest of honour at a celebratory banquet held in the Assembly Rooms . In spite of extreme conditions and events, experiences of the ship and crew were all logged by the ships diarists and Cresswell himself through a series of paintings and drawings. Some of the paintings were presented to Queen Victoria, with eight prints made and published in 1854 detailing the journey. The difficult Arctic episode had taken its toll on Samuel Cresswell’s health and although he rose the rank of captain after further achievements he was forced to turn down appointments in the remaining years of his career. He retired from service in 1867, dying shortly afterwards in King’s Lynn at the age of 39, but he will always be remembered as an important figure in Britain’s history of sea exploration. KL

KLmagazine March 2011

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March 2011  
March 2011  

The March 2011 issue of KL Magazine

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