Under the command of Captain Sir George Nares the Discovery and HMS Alert set sail from Portsmouth on May 29, 1875, commissioned to discover a route to the North Pole between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.
Having reached the highest latitude ever achieved by a ship, both crews spent the late summer setting up depots of supplies for the sledging parties scheduled for the spring, before setting up their winter quarters.
Three sledging party expeditions were started in April 1876 and George Emmerson played an important part in the expedition to explore the north coast of Greenland led by Lt Lewis Beaumont. During the course of this expedition Emmerson was, at various times, in charge of the eight-man sledge Sir Edward Parry and the five-man sledge Alert (the other two sledges used were named Discovery and Stephenson).
The whole expedition was marred by scurvy and other sickness which led to Nares’ decision to return a year earlier than anticipated, with several deaths to report (two men in Beaumont’s expedition alone had perished). Although unsuccessful in finding a route to the North Pole the expedition did provide a large quantity of geographical and scientific data, together with photographic images of indigenous Inuit people.
Consigned as ‘property of a gentleman’, a group of three medals to Chief Petty Officer George W Emmerson, Royal Navy, were estimated at £5000-7000 in the Semley Auctioneers (22% buyer’s premium) sale in Shaftesbury, Dorset on October 14.
The Arctic Medal was offered with an Egypt and Sudan 1882-89 Medal, dated 1882 to the reverse, named to G.W. EMMERSON BO’SN. R.N. H.M.S. CHESTER, with ribbon, and a Khedive’s Star, dated 1882, unnamed as issued, with ribbon. The former is rare in itself – only 21 Egypt Medals were awarded to HMS Chester.
The trio made £7500.