Canvas man-hauling harness allocated to HMS Terror (1813)

A canvas man-hauling harness strap with a wooden toggle attached at one end by rope from the 1845 Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. The harness is made of a canvas strip folded in half and oversewn along the raw edges. There are eyelet holes in each end. The harness is stencilled with 'T 11', indicating that it was used by one the sledge crews from HMS Terror (1813). The belt went diagonally across a man's shoulder and was attached to a rope connected to a sledge.

The harness was recovered by the US expedition under Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka between 1878-1880. It is described as 'Item 19. Man harness found at Irving Bay' in the 1881 catalogue of items that he sent back to Britain in 1881 [TNA, ADM 1/6600]. This corresponds with the red-bordered label, which states '19. From Irving Bay' and is known to relate to objects brought back by Schwatka.

Schwatka's expedition arrived at Irving Bay (their name for the bay just below Victory Point) on the north west coast of King William Island on 25 June 1879 where they discovered Lt. Irving's grave. Schwatka described the surrounding scene 'About twenty feet from the high water mark was found a lot of half-rotten navy clothing, blankets, canvas, blubber stoves, ships blocks and tackles, rope and cordage. Also found was a canvas sledge harness, marked in stencil "TII".' [Schwatka, page 82]. This is the area known as 'Crozier's Camp' where the crews from Erebus and Terror landed after deserting the ships in April 1848.

The harness was displayed in the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich, 'Case 3, No. 6. Man's harness'. It was also in Display 14 at the Royal Naval Exhibition at Chelsea in 1891.

Object Details

ID: AAA2261
Collection: Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Sledge harness
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Unknown
Events: Arctic Exploration: Franklin's Last Expedition, 1845-1848; Arctic Exploration: Franklin Search Expedition, Schwatka, 1878-1880
Vessels: Terror (1813)
Date made: 1845-1848
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
Measurements: Overall: 33 x 1662 x 90 mm

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