Franklin’s Lost Expedition IELTS Reading Passage with Answers
Reading Passage 1
You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13 which are based on Reading Passage 1
Franklin’s Lost Expedition
What could have resulted in the deaths of 129 men and officers aboard the ship in Franklin’s lost expedition? The fate of the ship remains a topic of investigation, still intriguing to some international researchers of today. Sir John Franklin and his crew set sail from England in 1845 in search of the Northwest Passage, a sea route that was rumored to connect the continents of Europe and Asia. Two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, headed the expedition. Franklin’s wife, Lady Jane Franklin, had become worried after three years without any communication from the expedition. She then persuaded the government to begin investigating. The sites of the three first search efforts were Lancaster Sound, the Bering Strait and over land beginning at the Mackenzie River.
All of these searches, as well as others that followed were unsuccessful in discovering the fate of the crew. Lady Franklin began her own search in 1851, but about a year later, these searches led by McClure and Collinson and their crews also turned up missing. Collinson eventually found his way back to England, while McClure was found and returned back in 1854. That same year, searcher John Rae reported to the Admiralty that according to Inuit information and some discovered items, it seemed that Franklin and the crew had perished. In a desperate last attempt to survive, some may have even taken up cannibalism. Rae was given what would be about $400,000 Canadian dollars today as a reward. Therefore, it appeared that Admiralty would not pursue any further search efforts.
However, Lady Franklin did not give up there, and in 1857 she began commissioning another search with Leopold McClintock as its leader. It was McClintock who found many corpses on King William Island, along with a journal which outlined the journey of Franklin’s two ships, Erebus and Terror. On May 1847, it seemed according to the journal that the ships were stuck in ice. Even so, there should have been enough food supplies onboard the ships to last three years. “All well,” said the note. Another note from April 25, 1848 made the situation appear more dire. Apparently, the ships had remained stuck in ice for over a year, with several men abandoning the expedition within the days before.
Researchers, scientists and historians have continued to ponder this mystery for over 160 years. What had happened which had caused the men to abandon ship, rather than wait for the ice to melt? The Northwest Passage is well-known for its harsh weather and constantly changing sea ice. To the west King William Island, particularly strong gusts of wind howl over layers of thick ice, formed over periods of hundreds of years. How long did the ice trap Franklin’s two unfortunate ships so that they could not move?
Investigators and researchers continue looking for answers to these questions regarding Franklin’s lost expedition, attempting to explain what happened to the captain and his crew. From American explorer Charles Francis Hall in 1860-1863, to Frederick Schwatka in 1879, as well as the Canadian government’s search in 1930 and William Gibson’s search a year later, some hints were found in the form of human remains, Inuit information and discovered items, but no certain conclusions could be reached. In 1981, along the western coast of King William Island, the University of Alberta-led Franklin Expedition Forensic Anthropology Project dug up human remains. Forensic testing at the time suggested that the cause of death was likely either lead poisoning and scurvy. Lead poisoning has continued to persist as a possible explanation for the loss of the expedition since then. However, proving this is not so simple, as surgeons’ journals (the “sick books”) which recorded illness on board have yet to be found.
Still without Franklin sick books, a team of researchers from the University of Glasgow took up a study of the sick books of Royal Naval ships which were searching for Franklin. The search ships were equipped similarly, with the same provisions as Franklin’s vessels, therefore the team looked over the illnesses and fatalities within the search crews under the assumption that the conditions suffered by those crews could mirror those of the lost expedition.
Due to relatively high levels of lead found in some remains of the crew, it has been suggested that lead poisoning from solder that sealed the expedition’s canned provisions could explain the lost expedition. However, within the other search ships who had similar provisions, no evidence of lead poisoning was found, despite the relatively high exposure to lead that was unavoidable on ships of the era and within the overall British population. So, unless Franklin’s ships had a particular lead source, there is no substantial proof that lead poisoning had a role in the failed expedition. Across nine search crews, patterns in illnesses led researchers to conclude that Franklin’s men would have suffered the same respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders, injuries and exposure, and that some fatalities might have been a result of respiratory, cardiovascular and tubercular conditions. Moreover, the team suggested that the abnormally high number of deaths of Franklin’s officers was probably a result of non-medical circumstances such as accidents and injuries that happened when officers accepted the risky responsibility of hunting animals to provide food, or walking over difficult terrain in a severe climate, continuing their
attempts at finding the route of a Northwest Passage.
It seems possible that the 2016 discovery by the Arctic Research Foundation made recently in the wreck of HMS Terror, along with a discovery two years before in 2014 of HMS Erebus by Parks Canada could finally allow access to some first-hand evidence of medical issues and other factors at play in the failed expedition. If any of the expedition’s records in writing have been preserved on board, it’s possible they could still be read if they were left in the right underwater conditions. If a ‘sick book’ has managed to survive aboard a ship, the events that led to the lost expedition may be revealed, allowing those speculating to finally get some closure on the matter.
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 15-21 on your answer sheet, write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this.
1. Franklin’s lost expedition was a search party attempting to find Lady Jane Franklin
2. John Rae suspected that Franklin’s lost expedition likely suffered from a food shortage aboard the ship
3. The leaders of the search parties commissioned by Lady Franklin returned to England after some time
4. It was common for people living Britain during the 19th century to be exposed to lead
5. Most of the crew aboard Franklin’s lost expedition were trained to hunt wild animals
6. The most recent research from University of Glasgow suggests that some of leaders of the crew on the Franklin expedition died from lead poisoning.
7. The research into the wreck of HMS Terror may shed light on the mystery of the lost expedition.
Complete the sentences below.
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in 22-26 on your answer sheet.
The Northwest Passage is a route which connects (8) __________by sea.
As a reward for seemingly having discovered the fate of the Franklin expedition,
(9)__________ was given an amount that would equal hundreds of thousands of Canadian dollars today.
Forensic testing available in the 80’s suggested that either (10) __________ or lead poisoning led to the deaths of the crew in the Franklin expedition.
The (25) ______________ made by doctors aboard the ships in the Franklin expedition still have not been recovered.
Researchers have suggested that the leaders of Franklin’s crew might not have been ill, but could have died from (26) ____________ as a result of their behaviours.
Franklin’s Lost Expedition IELTS Reading Passage Answers
2. NOT GIVEN
4. NOT GIVEN
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