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.

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