Second in Command: A Biography of Captain Francis Crozier.

A short biography, probably the first, of Crozier, with some useful information but hardly profound treatment.

p. 14, re Edward Parry’s 1821 NW Passage expedition with Crozier and James Clark Ross aboard: By then, Parry had evolved what has since become known as the “Parry School”. [I believe she refers to his literacy training for seaman but she leaves this remark unexplained until three pages later.]

p. 17: Once settled in for the winter, there was the problem of entertainment. On Parry’s ships there was always much of that. A lady, who wished to remain anonymous, gave the expedition a magic lantern [an early image projector], which gave the crew a lot of fun. They had brought with them scenery, costumes, etc. to give plays and Commander Lyon was appointed stage manager. A most successful play was Sheridan’s “The Rivals”….

Other plays, as well as concerts, were given every fortnight. Parry was an excellent violinist and he formed an ensemble which used to rehearse in his cabin. In addition a school was established, so that members of the crew could learn to read.

p. 24, on Parry’s third voyage in 1824 with Captain Lyon and Captain Henry Hoopner, and some distinguished future explorers Crozier, James Clark Ross, and Horatio Austin by October Parry again turned to entertainment: As Parry had, in the main, the same officers and men as on the previous voyage, he was anxious to do something different in the line of entertainment to give variety. Captain Hoppner suggested a masquerade aboard the Fury. The ships were supplied with all kinds of costumes and the men joined in with great enthusiasm. The masquerades were such a success that they were held once a month; the first one was on November 1st 1824. At that event it was Crozier who created the greatest sensation. He was blackened for the role of a Negro footman to Captain Hoppner’s grand lady. Dressed in a light blue coat with scarlet facings, scarlet breeches, white stockings and a gold lace cap, he must have been quite unrecognizable, for his colouring was naturally very fair.

p. 59, on Terror and Erebus visit to Hobart in 1841: On this, their second winter in the Antipodes, the officers were lionized beyond belief. On May 3rd a new nautical play entitled “South Polar Expedition” was performed at the Royal Victoria heater. This drama had actors taking the parts of Franklin, Ross and Crozier and the last act was an allegorical tableau with the crowning of Ross and Crozier at the command of Britannia and proclaiming their success to the world.

p. 101, amusements during the first winter of 1845 at Beechey Island: Indoor games were also played including chesss, draughts, cards, and backgammon, (Later, during the search, part of the backgammon board was found on Montreal Island, indicating, perhaps, that the poor men must have carried it with them on their retreat from the shipwreck. It is possible, of course, that the board might have been swept off the ship during the wreck, picked up the natives and carried to Montreal Island.)

… Perhaps the most stimulating form of amusement would be the plays that the officers always gave to amuse the men. It is probable that Captain Crozier, the only experienced actor in the company was producer and stage director. One might even speculate one stage further and say he probably also played the leading male roles. It is also likely that a newspaper was printed, for a printing press was standard equipment on these expeditions.

p. 118-19, with Franklin dead, Crozier in command, the ships beset, the men getting scurvy in 1848-49: So with his men dying all around him, many of them incapacitated by scurvy and probably most of them suffering from incipient scurvy, Crozier realized it was imperative to get fresh meat. Where better than the estuary of Back’s Fish River? Although no one of the expedition had been there, all of the relevant information was to be found in the libraries of the Terror and Erebus. Sir George Back, the discoverer of the river, had written a book called “Narrative of the Land Expedition to the mouth of the Great Fish River and along the shores of the Arctic Ocean in the years 1833, 1834, and 1835.” A copy of this work was in one or both libraries of the ships. Except for Chapter V which is a digression, pages 128 to 443 are an almost continuous recital of the game the Back expedition saw, a recital beyond belief. On one day alone they counted an estimated 20,000 caribou.

Another book to come out at the same time was that of Dr. King, Back’s second-in-command, entitled “Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Arctic Ocean in 1833, ’34, and ’35 under the command of Captain Back, RN” by Richard King MRCS. It is not known if the expedition carried Dr. King’s book but, if not, there could have been a private copy among the officers. At any rate, it confirms what Back had to say. Those books were the only guarantee that, at Back’s Fish River, Captain Crozier could find all the game he needed to restore his men to health.

p. 131, re Franklin relics: The men had carried many objects with them as mementos to loved ones in England. One such item was a devotional book given to Graham Gore by Sir George Back found at Erebus Bay, though we know that Gore had died the winter before the men reached there.

p. 141, on the long retreat to Great Fish River: At Starvation Cove “there was a tin box full of books in the boat” was the Indian testimony, Surely this must have been the rest of the precious records of the expedition for no men in their exhausted and starving condition would carry a heavy box of general reading material that far.