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1921 routes
Howard-Bury’s map showing routes
taken during the 1921 Expedition

Colonel Charles Howard Bury (1881-1963)
Part Two

North Col (right) and summit
North Col (right) and summit (left)
 from Lhakpa, taken by Howard-Bury:

The Great War

  • Outbreak of hostilities sent him back to his regiment, the King’s Royal Rifles, which he re-joined in 1915.

  • Rising to the ranks of Lieutenant Colonel, he led his men at Arras, the Somme, Passchendaele and Ypres.

  • At the Somme he was ordered to cut a communication trench to Devil’s Wood, having to dig through mounds of corpses, “heads, arms and legs crawling with maggots.”

  • Mentioned in dispatches and received the DSO.

  • Taken prisoner at Ypres; successfully escaping from Furstenburg POW Camp before being captured 9 days later near the Danish Frontier.

  • Recaptured and imprisoned in Clausthal Prison, 2,000 feet up in the Hartz Mountains Released in May 1919

  • “The troops of a Forward Zone or Outposts, or whatever you wish to call those in front of the main line of defence, may accomplish their task in one of two ways.

  • They may fall back fighting, in which they are certain to mask the fire of the troops behind them, a very serious matter in these days of complicated artillery barrages; or they may stick it out to the last man.

  •  Now, no-one will deny that there are occasions when one part of a force must be sacrificed to the save the rest, when troops must be expected to stick it out until the last man; but is it wise to make it a matter of routine?” (Charles Howard-Bury, 1915)
Tarantasses stop at ceremonial Kazak tombs,
taken by Charles Howard-Bury:

Nomad Women
Nomad women setting up their ‘auls’,
taken by Charles Howard Bury:

Ili River Ferry
A ferry across the busy ‘Ili river’,
taken by Charles Howard-Bury:

Tibetan Visa
Tibetan visa issued to Colonel Charles Howard-Bury

1921 Everest Reconnaissance team
1921 Everest Reconnaissance team
Picture © Royal Geographic Society

Click on any image to see a larger version

The 1921 British Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition:

  • Sent to Tibet on behalf of the RGS and the Alpine Club to superintend the complex diplomatic negotiations necessary for a British climbing team to enter the Himalayas

  • Elected as expeditionary leader upon his return to London Climbing team included Raeburn, Kellas, Bullock and Mallory;

  • Expedition team included Wollaston, Heron, Morshead and Wheeler Adopted a casual leadership style – much to the frustration of Mallory

  • Various geological, climatic and mapping surveys were carried out and a route for future attacks on the summit planned .

  • Among the botanical specimens brought back to Kew Gardens was a white primula name ‘Primula Buryana’ after the Colonel. Mallory and the climbing team reached 27,000 feet on the North Col.

  • Due to Howard-Bury wonderfully written dispatches to The Times, the team returned to Britain as national heroes

  • “Considering the great extent of unknown territory that was mapped, considering that 50 per cent of the climbing personnel collapsed before the expedition was under way; considering that most of the Tibetans they dealt with had never seen a European before, the remarkable thing about the 1921 venture is that it was so successful.” (T.S. Blakely, President of the Alpine Club, 1963)

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