Friday, Oct 23 2020
All Cities
Choose Your City
'Numer of endemic species in lake Baikal is 1,455'
Marc Di Duca

Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?

By The Siberian Times reporter
22 November 2017

Unexpected find as scientists survey 'time capsule' site of 1901-02 encampment of intended North Pole explorers on remote Alger Island.

The biggest surprise of the summer expedition was the discovery of a Union Jack - the British flag. Given that the expedition was American with the US and Norwegian team members, it wasn't supposed to be there. Picture: Yevgeny Yermolov

The site on Alger Island in the Franz Josef Land archipelago is a unique historical monument to Arctic explorers of the early 20th century. 

This was the base camp of a failed attempt to reach the North Pole by US meteorologist Evelyn Baldwin with his vessel America.

An extraordinary collection of items from the polar expedition were preserved at the site - numbering some 180 of historic significance .

Yevgeny Yermolov, head of the Russian Arctic National Park's history and cultural heritage department, said: 'These included tools, parts of the America boat, harnesses for dogs and ponies.'

Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?


Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?


Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?


Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?
Remains of the Baldwin expedition's camp base in the Arctic. Pictures: Yevgeny Yermolov, Alexey Ananev


There were 'samples of preserved foods that we found very incredibly interesting as they show technologies of product canning at the beginning of the 20th century.

'We found packs of dry eggs powder, grated green peas, paper boxes made of starch, which were used to keep grain, sweets and fried coffee beans.

'There were also - unexpectedly for us - multiple glass bottles with eye balsam. We think it was supposed to help expedition members to fight 'snow blindness'.

'Found, too, were cutlery, metal and ceramic dishes, glasses rims, warm mittens. 

'There were pony harnesses - the expedition discovered a yoke and a part of a saddle which has reins passing through it. 

'Since the expedition aimed to reach the North Pole, on board were 450 dogs and 16 ponies. 

'This was the most ambitious and the best-equipped expedition in the history of developing the archipelago and the Arctic.

'Dog sleds which was a traditional Eskimo way of moving about, proved themselves to be working really well. 

'As for the Siberian ponies, they didn't justify themselves as draft power and were quickly dying from cold air temperatures and strong winds.'

Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?

Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?


Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?


Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?


Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?


Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?
The America yacht, pictured in 1903, and finds from the summer expedition: a wooden box cover, a set of cutlery, grain boxes made of starch, eye balsam and a pony harness. Pictures: Library of Congress, Yevgeny Yermolov


Yevgeny Yermolov said that the biggest surprise of the summer expedition was the discovery of a Union Jack - the British flag. Given that the expedition was American with the US and Norwegian team members, it wasn't supposed to be there. 

Although holed after more than 115 years, he said it had 'preserved well' in the biting Arctic climate.

How did it get there? 

There was no known British encampment on Algen Island, yet there maybe an explanation. 

On the way here, from Norway, the expedition had stopped at Cape Flora to restock supplies. Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?

Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?


Old British flag found on remote Arctic island: but who brought it there, and when?
The map of the Baldwin-Ziegler expedition, the crew and Evelyn Baldwin, pictured at the end of 19th century. Pictures: Library of Congress 


It was exactly here 20 years earlier that Benjamin 'Ben' Leigh Smith's vessel Eira sank when it became trapped between two giant ice floes. 

The intrepid explorer and his crew of 25 were forced to spend ten months including a bitter winter in the Franz Josef Land archipelago.

Known as Britain's 'forgotten explorer' because he shunned the self-promotion of Victorian rivals, he led his men the following year in four lifeboats with sails made from salvaged tablecloths on a  perilous crossing to Novaya Zemlya where they were rescued.

Intriguingly it was recently reported that the wreck of the Eira was found at Cape Flora, and there are hopes of a dive to the site next year.

There was an urgent need to survey the site on Alger Island because the land is literally being washed away - an example of how the warmer climate is radically changing the Arctic landscape. 

In 1990, the distance between camp's houses and the shore was 39 metres, today the waterline is just 6 metres away from the ruins. 

Ruins of the Baldwin-Ziegler polar expedition base camp on the Alger Island. Pictures: Alexey Ananev

http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/features/shipwreck-of-heroic-but-unsung-british-explorer-ben-leigh-smith-is-found-in-arctic-waters/


http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/features/shipwreck-of-heroic-but-unsung-british-explorer-ben-leigh-smith-is-found-in-arctic-waters/

Comments (3)

La bandiera inglese, forse scozzese ? è stata probabilmente trasportata da Capo Flora dal sito della spedizione Jackson (1984 -1897). Come Associazione Grande Nord abbiamo realizzato una spedizione Italo Russa a FJL nel 1994 (v.www.associazionegrandenord.to.it). Siamo stati anche ad Alger. Poco distante sulla costa erano ancora presenti due imbarcazioni (una rovesciata). Alcuni reperti fotografati compaiono nel nostro video.Complimenti per la spedizione. v.gay@dirsan.anaao.it
Gay Vincenzo, Torino ITALY
27/11/2017 23:09
0
0
On 1-2 November 1873, Julius Payor of the Austrian ship "TEGETTHOFF" landed at Wilczek Island and annexed the Franz Josef Land archipelago an in the name of Kaiser Franz Josef I. During World War I, on 16 (29) August

1914, Captain of the First Rank Ishak Ibragimovich Islyamov with a landing party of Imperial Russian sailors from the ship "Hertha" purported to conquest Austria Hungary at "Hertha Rock" at Cape Flora by the location of an

Ameican coal mine that opened in 1904, two years before the Amercan Coal Mines opened in Spitsbergen. Captain Islyamov also renamed the archipelago "ROMANOV LAND". Italy claimed by diplomatic note Franz Josef

Land as the successor state to Austria Hungary. There has been no treaty between Italy and the USSR or any of

successor states related to Franz Josef Land.I

Mark Seidenberg, Fresno, California, USA
23/11/2017 06:55
1
0
A fascinating find that sheds more light on the fledging times of Arctic exploration. Timely too as it appears that within a few years all these artifacts would have been lost to the encroaching Sea.
Simon Robinson, Blackburn, England
22/11/2017 21:38
4
0
1

Add your comment

We welcome a healthy debate, but do not accept offensive or abusive comments. Please also read 'Siberian Times' Privacy Policy

Name

Town/Country

Add your comments

The views expressed in the comments above are those of our readers. 'Siberian Times' reserves the right to pre-moderate some comments.

Control code*

Type the code

* obligatory


News

Business

The Bank of Russia official exchange rates of foreign currencies
EUR91.36USD77.08GBP101.22Other...