Two well-provisioned Royal Navy ships set off from Greenhithe in Kent to the Canadian Arctic in May 1845, ostensibly to search for the North-West Passage. None of the crew made it back to England, and later revelations of what happened to them shocked Victorian society.

In an era when much was still unknown about the polar regions, Britain was a key player in geographical exploration – for geopolitical reasons as much as anything else. One man became forever associated with the tragic failure of such 19th century missions.