Fragment of a boat's red ensign.

A fragment of a boat's ensign from the 1845 British Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. The ensign is made of wool, hand sewn with rope attached. The item is in very poor condition and cannot be measured.

The ensign was found by Lieutenant William R. Hobson's sledge team on 3 May 1859 under a small collapsed tent, possibly for the officers, at an abandoned camp site at Cape Felix, King William Island, as part of the search expedition led by Captain F. L. McClintock. Hobson described it as '...fragments of a small red ensign,..' [Stenton, 'Arctic' v.69, No. 4, p. 515]. McClintock recorded it as ''...fragments of a boat's ensign' [McClintock, 'Voyage of the Fox' (1860), p.368]. The camp site was occupied by about twelve officers and men from the Franklin expedition during the summer of 1847, living in three small tents. They were probably engaged in surveying, scientific work or hunting while the expeditions ships remained trapped in the ice. The site was apparently abandoned in a hurry - Hobson found the tents flattened with blankets and bear skins underneath. He concluded that, as the party had left behind so much of their equipment, they had probably gone back to the ships.

The ensign was presented to the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich by Sophia Cracroft in 1892, and displayed in Case 2, No. 26 'Part of a boat's ensign'. The item is also shown in - 'Stereoscopic slides of the relics of Sir John Franklin's Expedition' photographed by Lieutenant Cheyne RN, at the United Services Museum, Whitehall, No. 2, 'Ensign found extreme N.W. of King William Island'.

Object Details

ID: AAA2128
Collection: Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Naval ensign
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Unknown
Events: Arctic Exploration: Franklin's Last Expedition, 1845-1848; Arctic Exploration: Franklin Search Expedition, McClintock, 1857-1859
Vessels: Fox (1855)
Date made: 1845
People: Hobson, William Robert
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

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