Polar find ‘vindicates’ Rasen explorer

Ernest Coleman EMN-140915-131641001
Ernest Coleman EMN-140915-131641001

The wreckage of one of two ships from a famous Lincolnshire explorer’s “lost expedition” has been found in icy Canadian waters.

Sir John Franklin, from Spilsby, led the two ships and 129 men in 1845 to chart the Northwest passage in the Canadian arctic, but disaster struck and neither the men or the ships were ever seen again.

But last week, the discovery of one of the ships- either HMS Erebus or HMS Terror - off King William Island made global news.

Now, Ernest Coleman, a former Royal Navy Lieutenant, who has written books and academic papers on the voyages of Sir John Franklin and other arctic explorers, says he feel vindicated by the discovery as it was where he had earlier predicted.

Ernest, from Bishop Norton, near Market Rasen, served 36 years in the navy and organised four expeditions looking for the ships, which he undertook during 1990-95.

“I walked all over King William Island and went all over the Arctic,” he said.

Ernest looked at sea charts, he considered the size of the vessels and how they might be adapted for polar explorations, along with charts showing the shape of the seabed.

He tried to convince the Canadian authorities, including speaking at polar conferences, that the boats were where one has just been found.

“No-one would believe me,” he said.

But now Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper revealed the news to the world.

“This has been a great Canadian story and mystery and the subject of scientists, historians, writers and singers, so I think we really have an important day in mapping the history of our country,” he said.

Ernest says the find has caused a “kerfuffle as the Canadians will use that as an argument to say the arctic belongs more to them rather than the US and other countries.”

In the meantime, Ernest offers further advice as to the whereabouts of the ships’ crew.

“I found mounds. I am convinced that’s where Franklin is buried and his ships company, but the Canadians believe the mounds are natural. However, there are scrapings on the mounds in the water, which were clearly done by sailors,” he said.