McClure, Sir Robert John Le Mesurier

Sir Robert John Le Mesurier McClure, explorer, adventurer (b at Wexford, Ire 28 Jan 1807; d at London, Eng 17 Oct 1873). McClure obtained a lieutenancy for his 1836-37 service on Terror under George BACK in the ice of Hudson Bay. He served on Sir James Clark ROSS's abortive Franklin rescue mission in 1848-49, and in 1850 was appointed commander of Investigator in the expedition led by Captain Richard Collinson, who was taking 2 ships to the Arctic via Bering Strait. This commission brought McClure fame and success. He proved brave, lucky and inordinately ambitious.

Arriving ahead of Collinson at Bering Strait, he decided to continue on alone. From August to October 1850 he coasted east hundreds of kilometres to Cape Parry, wheeled north to Banks Island and reached and wintered in Prince of Wales Strait, the last link in the fabled NORTHWEST PASSAGE, which he undoubtedly discovered. Sir John FRANKLIN's earlier claim, for which all witnesses were dead, was only discovered by Sir Francis MCCLINTOCK in 1859.

McClure encountered great danger in Prince of Wales Strait and in rounding Banks Island in 1851. He was forced to winter in Mercy Bay and was frozen in. His crew was saved from starvation in 1853 by Captain Henry KELLETT of the Resolute and finally returned to England in 1854. McClure ungenerously informed a parliamentary committee that he could have kept his men alive without Kellett's aid, thereby denying his rescuers a share in the £10-000 voted to the discoverers of the passage. McClure served on the China Station 1856-61 and died a vice-admiral.