McClure  Robert 
(28.01.1807–17.10.1873)


English seaman, an outstanding arctic explorer. 
Born in Wexworth in the family of a sailor. His father died in the battle of Abukir before the birth of his son. The boy’s guardian was General Meserer, a friend of his deceased father. 
At the age of 12  McClure was sent to a military school in Sandberst. The boy did not like the barrack life, and he and three friends ran away to France. The guardian brought him home and, taking into account the wishes of the child, determined him in the fleet. After several years of service in the American and Indian waters, McClure expressed a desire to join the Arctic expedition of Captain J. Buck. Upon his return, having received the rank of lieutenant, he served at the Quebec ship repair yard, carried out missions during the Canadian Uprising, commanded the ship in Havana, served in the coast guard. 
In 1848  it was decided to send the expedition of James Ross in search of J. Franklin, and McClure at his request was appointed senior lieutenant to the ship of the expedition "Enterprise (Enterprise)". Ross explored Somerset Island, Barrow Strait and the northern part of the Prince Regent Strait, not finding any traces of the missing. 
The following year, the search for Franklin was continued on a larger scale. From the west four ships went under the general command of G. Austin , from the side of the Bering Strait - two ships: the “Enterprise” under the command of Captain R. Collinson and the “Investigator” under the command of Mac-Clour. Formally, McClure was subordinate to Collinson, but in fact, each of them acted independently. In addition to searching for Franklin, there was the task of opening the Northwest Passage. 
Small ships with a displacement of only 400 tons each, on January 20, 1850  left London on a long journey through Cape Horn to the Bering Strait. They split almost immediately, since the Explorer had the worst move, and met only once in April in the Strait of Magellan. In July, the Investigator reached Honolulu, where McClure found out that Collinson was already here. McClure, having given the team some rest, went on and, having chosen a shorter route, arrived at the Bering Strait two weeks earlier than Collinson. The latter, having made several unsuccessful attempts to pass to the north, went to spend the winter in Honolulu. 
McClure, having entered the Bering Strait, could not directly reach the Banksu or Melville Islands. He rounded the north-west end of America and went between the ice and the coast to the east, reached Cape Parry and moved north to it, then to the north-east. His attempt was a success, and three days later he saw the green mountains of an unknown land. Soon some more land appeared in the east, and the ship entered a narrow strait between them. It turned out to be a strait between the islands of Banks and Victoria, which he later named in honor of the Prince of Wales. There was hope for the opening of the Northwest Passage. McClure wrote in his diary: “... Does this channel lead to the Barrow Strait? And will he, therefore, turn out to be the Northwest Passage, which has been sought for so long? Really such an insignificant creature as I succeed in what has been denied to the most capable and wisest people for so many centuries”.  However, due to the ice it was not possible to get far. 
September 12, the ship was frozen in the ice, and the first wintering began. On October 21  McClure headed by six people on a sleigh went to test his guess. October 26  the sailors discovered that the  Prince of Wales Strait connects with the Strait of Melville, and, consequently, with the Strait of Barrow, opened in 1820 by W. Parry, who came from the west from the Baffin Sea. This fact meant that the Northwest Passage exists. 
With the onset of spring, the toboggan units began searching for the missing expedition, completing multi-day trails in different directions.

 

View of Melville Island from Banks Island


The coming summer of 1851 did not open the passage through the Prince of Wales Strait. Then McClure decided to return and go around Banks Island from the west. This maneuver was a success, but on September 24  the "Explorer" was frozen into the ice again and had to spend the winter on the northern coast of Banks Island in Mercy Bay. During the winter, polar explorers succeeded in replenishing food stocks with hunting for deer and hares. Toboggans in search of Franklin explored Melville Island, but found nothing. On the island at the point of wintering Parry in 1819 - 1820. McClure left a note that later played a decisive role in the fate of his expedition. 
The summer of 1852 did not bring the ship of liberation. At the same place, the third wintering began, the state of the team had deteriorated significantly by that time. The lack of nutrition began to affect, the first signs of scurvy appeared, the disease began to progress rapidly. McClure decided to leave the 26 strongest and strongest people for the fourth wintering, and send the rest part east to the northeastern tip of Somerset, where there was a food store, and partly to the mouth of the Mackenzie River. It should be said that both routes were approximately the same thousand-kilometer in length, and it is unlikely that weakened people would be able to overcome them. 
Fortunately, the rescue was near. McClure's note on Melville Island was found by G. Kellett wintering there, a member of E. Belcher’s large-scale expedition that came from the east. As soon as it was daylight, Kellett sent a sledge squad headed by Lieutenant B. Pym, who came to McClure on April 6, to Mercy Bay, nine days before his people left for certain death. The next day, McClure, at the head of nine men, went with Pym to Kellett, spending 70 miles on a journey of twelve days. Soon another group came up, part of which Kellett sent to the main base of the Belcher expedition, Beachy Island. As a result, the Explorer team was divided into three parts: at Kellett, in the Gulf of Mercy on the ship, where the captain returned, and on Bitchie Island. Lieutenant Creswell, who was part of the latter group, returned to England in 1853 on the ship of Lieutenant E. Inglefield "Isabel", who conducted an expedition organized on the money of Franklin's wife Jane. Creswell and Inglefield both brought to England the joyful news of the opening of the Northwest Passage.

 

Pim and McClure meeting


McClure was concerned about the fate of the vessel and was going to do everything possible to save him, but the examination of the health of the team, conducted by the doctor Kellett, excluded the fourth wintering. By order of the senior officer Kellett, the ship was abandoned, and the remaining part of the crew of McClur moved to Kellett’s ships, where she spent her fourth wintering ground. On August 26, 1854  by order of the expedition leader Belcher, all of his ships, with the exception of the "Northern Star", were abandoned. By the end of September  all the people returned to England. 
The abandonment of serviceable ships in the Arctic caused great displeasure in the Admiralty, and the leaders, Belcher, Kellett and McClure were brought to justice.McClure and Kellett were easily justified, just like the people who carried out the order. The court not only acquitted McClure, but also noted that “McClure, the officers and the “Explorer”team deserve the greatest praise for their zeal ...”. Returning the sword to McClure, the chairman said: “The court of the opinion that your leadership, subjected to the most difficult trials, was in all respects highly commendable and worthy ...”. 
Belcheru also managed to justify himself.

In the summer of 2014  the "Researcher" was found. During the expedition, which began on July 22, Canadian scientists scanned the bottom of the Bay of Mercy (Mersey) with the help of a sonar-sonar radar, and soon discovered a characteristic image of the ship's hull.

The vessel is under water on an even keel at a depth of 11 meters, its upper deck is eight meters under water. "It is in surprisingly good condition," says Marc-Henri Bernier, head of the Parks Canada Underwater Archeology Service.Very cold water helped keep it all".

Scientists do not plan to lift the ship to the surface. They intend to explore it with the help of underwater robots. Archaeologists also discovered three graves of expedition members who died of scurvy in April 1853, as well as fragments of a boat and the remains of a stockpile of supplies. 
McClure and his people were the first to pass by sea or on sea ice from the Pacific to the Atlantic and it was them who recognized by the discoveries of the Northwest Passage. A bonus of £ 10,000 due to them was paid, and McClure still received the nobility. The selected committee of the House of Commons noted that "the heroic deeds of McClure and his comrades, although they were not committed on the battlefield, by their courage can be equated to military exploits". British and French geographical societies awarded him gold medals. 
There were people trying to belittle the triumph of the discoverers by saying that the pioneers of the Northwest Passage could have been participants in the Franklin expedition.

Awarded the Order of the Bath. 
In subsequent years, McClure commanded the ship "Esk", played an important role in the Anglo-Chinese war, participated in the seizure of Canton. He became a rear admiral in 1867 and a vice admiral in 1873. In the same year  he died suddenly in London. Buried in the Kensal Green Cemetery. 
Islands off the northern coast of Canada. 
Cape in the north of the Banks Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

Cape on the island of Pandora east of the Prince of Wales Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. 
Strait between the islands of Melville and Banks in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Opened by the expedition R. McClure in 1851.

 

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