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Sir James Clark Ross 1800 - 1862

Sir James Clark Ross was remarkable man. He had joined the Royal Navy at the age of 11 and later, with his uncle Sir John Ross, went in search of the North West Passage. He served on a number of arctic expeditions with Edward Parry and became very proficient with arctic exploration.

In the late spring of 1831 Ross discovered the magnetic north pole on the Boothia Peninsula in the far north of Canada. This would allow navigators the world over to use the compass with greater accuracy than ever before.

It was his scientific approach to exploration, his attention to detail and his skill that allowed him to successfully mount expeditions in the most treacherous regions of the globe. Places where others had perished before and have perished since. It was no mistake that the two ships selected for the Antarctic expedition were bomb class - an obscure type of vessel named after the torpedo like missile they would carry in battle. This meant that the Erebus and Terror both had unusually thick hulls, which proved the salvation of the mission on more than one occasion. His careful planning even extended to the diet of his crew - he ensured that they were provided with ample supplies of diverse foodstuffs, to ensure a balanced diet. He also never missed an opportunity to restock.

Ross took every opportunity to encourage young Joseph Hooker during the four years of the expedition, supplying him with extra space to store his collections and providing a good work area where he could create many of his detailed botanical illustrations.

For more detailed information about the life and explorations of Sir James Clark Ross, you might want to visit his page in the Antarctic Philately site.

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Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker

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