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Tom Crean in the Arctic

On 27th September 1919, Tom Crean was returning home from Russia on HMS Fox. It’s perhaps strange to think of Tom Crean in the Arctic after earning his reputation as an Antarctic veteran but the well-travelled Kerryman did indeed serve in the cold climes of the Northern Hemisphere.

He is aboard as this picture of the vessel was taken alongside a Russian battleship.

It was his penultimate naval assignment and he played an active role as a member of the North Russia Expeditionary force as can be verified in the ship’s logs for the period.

His reputation had gone before him and the crew aboard were all too aware that their Warrant Officer, ‘Mr Crean’, as he was now being addressed, had been awarded the Albert Medal for his bravery and had served with Scott and Shackleton in Antarctica.

Earlier, in May of the same year, Fox had become gripped, this time in the jaws of Arctic ice but, unlike Crean’s similar experience aboard Endurance, Fox was freed after the intervention of three icebreakers, to allow her to continue her mission to assist and later evacuate troops sent to halt the advance of the Bolsheviks in the aftermath of the First World War.

It was a time that Tom Crean chalked up membership of a rare club, seeing service in the Arctic Circle adding to his more familiar surroundings of Antarctica although on this occasion it wasn’t as an explorer.

During his time serving in North Russia he met up with Frank Worsley, former skipper of the Endurance and Crean’s fellow Yelcho/Elephant IslandTom Crean in the Arctic Tom Crean Book rescuer was among a number of Endurance men serving in cold climes. It’s likely they were all recommended to the expeditionary force by Sir Ernest Shackleton who had been assigned the status of Major having been commissioned by the British government in charge of clothing and equipment. 

The image shows HMS Fox – the ship of Tom Crean’s penultimate assignment.

To read Tom Crean’s full story the book can be purchased at the following link.

Biography of Tom Crean – Crean – The Extraordinary Life of an Irish Hero

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