Saturday 10 November 2012

Memorial to the crews of Erebus and Terror

One of the lesser known memorials to the dead of the Franklin expedition is this brass plaque in the former St Andrews Waterside Mission Church, on the banks of the Thames at Gravesend.

The plaque lists the crews of HM Ships Erebus and Terror, ie. the members of the ships' companies who were not officers, with the exception of John Torrington, John Hartnell, and William Braine who are buried at Beechey Island. Presumably the intention was to specifically commemorate those who had no known grave.

The men of both ships are grouped together in three categories: Petty Officers; AB's &c; and Royal Marines &c.

The Captain's Steward and the Paymaster and Pursers Steward for each ship are classed as Petty Officers while the Gunroom Stewards and Subordinate Officers' Stewards are counted among the AB's &c.

There are numerous transcription errors among the names listed. For example petty officers James Rigden and Philip Reddington are listed as Bigden: James and Beddington: Philip. Josephus Geater is listed as Geater: James. Presumably the name was abbreviated to Jos. and the engraver read it as Jas.

The Church building is not open to the public on a daily basis but is used for art exibitions and other community purposes. My thanks are due to Sandra Soder, Chair of the Gravesend Historical Society, who kindly showed me around the building in August this year, thus avoiding the need for me to enrol in a yoga class.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks for posting this, Peter.

    A few observations:

    1) Brigden was a Subordinate Officers' Steward, and is listed as a petty officer. As "Bridgens" on the Muster of "Erebus". At this time in the Royal Navy, all domestics were unclassed.

    2) Hoar's alias was Edmund Charles Hoar.

    3) Reuben Male - should be "Male".

    4) Edward George is clearly "Genge" on the Muster of "Terror".

    5) Jopson also served in "Terror" during James Clark Ross' 1839-43 Antarctic Expedition.


  3. There are a lot of inaccuracies in books and in online sources. Like take the date of Crozier's birthday, I've seen two different dates for it. Without seeing his original birth certificate, that makes it hard to assume which source is correct. You'd think that since this was a memorial, they'd get the names right for the men.

  4. All names and details of any historical event are vulnerable to errors, slight and large, intended and otherwise. And once an error is repeated, it gains -- undeserved -- momentum as it is cited by others. All we can do is be cautious, double-check, and seek primary sources wherever and whenevr we can!

  5. I´ve just read in the Cyriax book a mention about this plaque and about the three windows, I wonder what would be the meaning (if there is any meaning) of the three windows. Thank you for posting it, it seems that it would have been difficult to see this plaque in person.

  6. My ancestor Able Seaman DAVID SIMS is wrongly recorded as DAVID TIMS.

  7. This is great news as my great great grandfather Thomas Armitage is clearly (and correctly)shown on the memorial. When I am next near London I will be planning to pay a visit.
    Nigel Hardy from Devon

  8. Josephus Geater was my great great grandfather

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