In 1930 the Norwegian Bratvaag Expedition set sail in the Svalbard Artic region, officially anyway, to hunt seals and study the glaciers. Its actual mission was to gather intelligence on Victoria Island so that the Norwegian government could annex it because they feared the Russians were also considering annexing the island as well. (They were and they did)
Two crewmen were set ashore on White Island to hunt walrus. It was an exceptionally warm year and much of the ice on the island had melted. As the two hunters walked along they spotted a piece of metal sticking out of the ground that proofed to be boatswains hook engraved with the words “Andree’s Polar Expedition 1896”
They dug more and found the remains of a small boat and the partial skeleton of a man, half-buried in the snow and ice. Bears had eaten most of the upper body,, but a monogram on the jacket identified the body as the Swedish explorer Salomon Andrée who had vanished in an expedition flight in 1896.
Nearby they found the tomb of Andrée's companion, photographer Nils Strindberg identified by the initials on his clothes. The body of the third crewman from Andree’s expedition, engineer Knut Frænkel, was never found.
Strindberg probably had died while chasing a polar bear, perhaps from drowning, and Andrée and Frænkel had asphyxiated on carbon monoxide from a malfunctioning stove while cooking in their tent. However, there is a school of thought that says that Strindberg committed suicide with an overdose of opium. The ultimate cause of death probably had something to do with the ingestion of polar bear flesh carrying Trichinella parasites. When they arrived at White Island they were suffering from recurrent diarrhea
Salomon August Andrée was a Swedish engineer, physicist, aeronaut and polar explorer. Andree’s North Pole expedition was the subject of enormous interest to the Swedish people. like King Oscar II declared Andree and his crew national heroes and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Alfred Nobel funded the trip.
Andrée set sail in his Hydrogen-powered balloon on 11 July 1897 for a 65-hour flight to the artic. Things went bad from the beginning. The lift-off the gondola had lost two of the three sliding ropes that were supposed to drag on the ice and thus function as a kind of rudder. Heavy winds and rain creating ice on the balloon, forced down them, crashed them actually, onto the ice.
The expedition was well equipped for traveling on the ice (three sleds and a boat) and had supplies for three months and already left three deposits of supplies in northern Svalbard and one in Franz Josef Land. They pulled the sleds themselves, and despite good reserves of food, added to it by shooting polar bears for food.
They set off Franz Josef Land but after a week they had lost direction and walked mostly west the wrong direction. Realizing their mistake, they changed direction and walked toward the supplies at northern Svalbard.
Walking on uneven ice wore them out. They reached Kvitøya (White Island), just east of Svalbard, after two months and that was where they perished. Nils Strindberg probably died within a week of arrival: he was buried among the rocks (though no marker was placed on his grave) while the other two men were later found in the tent.
The Eagle (The Ormen in Swedish) just after crashing to the ice
Andrée's status as a national hero took something of a nose drive in recent years. Scientists began to look beyond the myth and questioned why Andree took the flight at all since he most certainly knew he would fail due to his slight flight experience and almost no knowledge of the article region or temperatures. Basically, he had created and financed and undertook a suicide mission and he knew it.