Himalayan Journal vol.04
The Himalayan Journal

Publication year:

Kenneth Mason
    (Professor GIOTTO DAINELLI)
    (N. E. ODELL)
    (Lieut-Colonel R. C. F. SCHOMBERG)
  14. Lhonak, 1930
    (G. B. GOURLAY)
  15. A Journey in Upper Kumaun and Garhwal
    (Lieutenant HUGH ROSE)
  16. Expeditions
  17. In memorium
  18. Notes
  19. Reviews
  20. Correspondence
  21. Club Proceedings

In memorium

General Sir Alexander Stanhope Cobbe, v.c. 1870-1931

General sir Alexander cobbe, v.c., g.c.b., k.c.s.i., d.s.o., a.d.c., who died after a short illness on the 29th June 1931, was the senior General of the Indian Army.

Born in June 1870 he was but 61 years of age at the time of his death and should therefore, perhaps, be accounted one of the many distinguished soldiers whose lives were definitely shortened by the strain, both mental and physical, endured during the Great War. It is possible that, in his case, the vital energy, that inward flame which we call the life of a man, had been burning away at " forced draught" long before the war of 1914-18 ; for few men have lived so strenuously, so eventfully and, it may be added, so uniformally successfully as had General Cobbe.

Educated at Wellington and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, he was commissioned and joined the South Wales Borderers in 1889, transferring later to the Indian Army and the 32nd Sikh Pioneers. With only six years service he obtained his first experience of war in the operations for the relief of Chitral in 1895.

This was followed by service in Africa, where he served in one small war after another; in each successive campaign adding to his reputation for professional ability and personal gallantry. These services were recognized by the award of the Y.C., D.S.O., the brevet of Lieut.-Colonel and no less than seven mentions in despatches.

In Ashanti he was severely wounded.

From Somaliland he went to the Staff College, Camberley.

During the Great War he served with distinction in various Staff appointments in France and later in command of the First Corps under Sir Stanley Maude and General Marshall in Mesopotamia. By the age of fifty he was a Y.C., D.S.O., a K.C.S.I., and a Lieut.- General.

To many members of the Club he must have been known as G. 0. C.-in-Chief of the Northern Command, which important Command he held from 1926 to 1930 ; and such was the value placed upon his knowledge and opinions, the outcome of his natural intelligence and wide experience, that the Home authorities twice made use of his services as Secretary of the Military Department of the India Office. It was this important post which he was holding at the time of his death.

Enough has been said of General Cobbe's career as a distinguished soldier, but it would be a serious omission to fail to deal with one side of that career, the more personal side. Without such a reference the picture would be sadly incomplete, for he was a man who inspired in his subordinates feelings which were not merely those of respect for an able Commander, but which constituted real bonds of affection for one in whom they had absolute faith and confidence. Their implicit trust in him was based upon their knowledge of his personal interest in their welfare and the inherent kindliness of the man, which, though not always apparent on the surface, was to those that knew him a guarantee of absolute justice, sympathy in time of trouble and unfailing support.

There must be many in the Army to-day and not a few amongst the members of the Himalayan Club, who have the happiest memories of this side of his personality.

General Cobbe's connection with the Himalayan Club is less well known, and less known than it deserves to be ; for he took the keenest interest in the progress of the Club and was an ardent supporter of its inception. His own knowledge of the Himalaya must have dated back to 1895 at least, when serving in Gilgit he took part in Kelly's famous march to Chitral.

He was to the day of his death a good shot with a scatter gun and a keen fisherman, who had also shot a considerable amount of big game in his time.

To those whom he knew and who had similar tastes he would talk readily and happily of days fishing in Kashmir or of the pursuit of a certain big markhor in Buldar-Rakiot Nullah, the recollection of which he liked to share with any one who he felt would understand.

Though ever ready to encourage technical and scientific exploration, his strong support of the Club arose largely from a desire to encourage young officers to travel and shoot in the Himalaya so that they might in turn experience the joys which he himself had derived therefrom and might be led to spend their leave in a manner which he, rightly, felt was so much better for them than anything that the ordinary hill-stations could offer.

Finally it may be surmised that all those who, in addition to having the honour to serve under him, had known the zest with which he entered into a day's fishing or shooting would undoubtedly say of him : Whatsoever he found for his right hand to do, that he did with all his might.

H. L. Haughton.

Henry Treise Morshead


By the tragic death at Maymyo on the 17th May 1931 of Lieut. - Colonel Henry Treise Morshead, the Survey of India and the Himalayan Club lose a most distinguished traveller and geographer of Tibet. Those of us who were privileged to know him have lost a trusted and truly human friend.

Henry Morshead was born on the 23rd November 1882, the eldest son of the late Reginald Morshead, j.p., of Hurlditch Court, Tavistock, Devon. He was educated at Winchester College, whence he passed direct to the " Shop ", and received his commission on the 21st December 1901. After two years at Chatham he came to India and was posted to the Military Works Services, in which branch he served for nearly three years. He joined the Survey of India on the 3rd December 1906, and except for the War period, from 1914 to 1919, ho served in this department until his death.

For nearly the whole of the first six years of his Survey service, Morshead was closely associated with Dehra Dun, the headquarters of the scientific and exploratory pursuits of the department, and there is no doubt that it was here that his inherited love of adventure was stimulated by the study of Himalayan exploration during the past century. During this period, though his official duties ranged from latitude to magnetic operations, and though he held successively charge of the Forest Map Office, the Computing Office and the Triangulation Party, he became an expert in the history of Himalayan, and, in particular, of Tibetan, exploration.

In the winter of 1911-12, came his first chance of proving himself a capable Himalayan explorer, when he accompanied the Survey detachment under Captain C. P. Gunter, r.e., on the Mishmi Mission. The country surveyed was most inhospitable and mountainous; the main ranges varying from 15,000 feet to 17,000 feet fall steeply to the level of the main valley at 4000 feet in four miles. Morshead impressed everyone with his extraordinary powers of endurance.

The following winter lie was attached to the Mishmi Exploration Survey, again under Captain Gunter, and he was given charge of the triangulation of the Dibang valley and its tributaries. In spite of most unfavourable weather he completed a very large area of triangulation of previously unexplored country. Towards the end of the regular work of this expedition, in March 1913, the plan was formed by Morshead and Bailey, the Political Officer, to unravel the mystery of the " Tsangpo Falls " and of the actual course of the Tsangpo river, but the appalling weather rendered a dash over the Andra or Yonggyap pass into the Pemakoi-chen valley (Dihang river) quite impossible until the 26th May, when it was still under 20 feet of snow. The work carried out by Morshead on this expedition was extremely arduous; yet he not only triangulated the whole area, but he also completed the computation of almost every triangulated point within a few hours of observation so that the planetablers never lacked points by which to control their work.

The adventurous exploration with Bailey, in 1913, of the great bend of the Tsangpo, north-east of Namcha Barwa, the great peak of the Eastern Himalaya, 25,445 feet,-itself discovered by Morshead and Oakes the year before-brought Morshead's name into international prominence. The identity of the Tsangpo of Tibet with the Dihang tributary of the Brahmaputra was proved beyond doubt and the falls of Pemakochung correctly located. Morshead and Bailey had many difficulties to encounter, not only from the vile weather, but from the plagues of mosquitoes, dandims, leeches and gadflies as well. An amusing incident, which might have had a tragic ending, was the arrest of both travellers by Tibetans, on the suspicion of being Chinese spies. Morshead himself records the incident as follows:-

We reached Showa on June 25th and were kept prisoners in the travelers house for three days Matters were eventually settled satisfactorily.... though at the last minute their suspicions were again aroused, and the negotiations imperilled, at the sight of the Chinese writing on my tablet of Indian ink.

For his valuable contribution to our knowledge of this frontier Morshead received the thanks of the Government of India and of the Secretary of State, and was awarded the Macgregor Medal by the United Service Institution of India.

Morshead was promoted Captain on the 21st December 1911, and was on leave in England when the War broke out. He was recalled to India at once, only to leave again for England in October to train the sappers of the new armies (16th South Irish Division). In February 1915 he was posted to command the 212th Field Company, r.e., 33rd Division, and joined them in the Vermeilles sector during the combats for the possession of the Hohenzollern Redoubt. He commanded thist company throughout the Battle of the Somme (High Wood-Les, Boeufs) and was promoted to the rank of Major on the 21st December 1916.

In January 1917 Morshead Vas transferred to the 46th Division to form and train a Pioneer Battalion, and having done this successfully returned to his old command of the 212th Field Company, then in the Qudant-Drocourt sector, in time for the Battle of Arras. Wounded on the 25th September during the Battle of Paschendaele, he was invalided to England, but returned to France in January 1918, to be posted as C. R. E. of the 46th Division. During the final operations he was largely instrumental in the very successful crossing of the Canal du Nord by his Division.

Those who had the privilege of serving under him in France will not forget his unfailing cheerfulness and courtesy, and that quality of moral and physical coinage, which he possessed to so high a degree, and which he could inspire others. He was mentioned twice in Sir Douglas Haig's despatches and received the D.S.O. in 1916.

On reverting to the Survey 0f India he found himself almost at once on active service again, i^ command of the Survey party with the Waziristan Field Force, in the early part of 1920. Later in the same year he joined the late Dr. M. Kellas, on an attempt to climb Kamet, the great peak of northern Garhwal, 25,447 feet above the sea. This was Morshead's first experience of technical mountaineering. Dr. Kellas was one of the most energetic mountaineers who have ever visited the Himalaya; with Morshead in his company they were too much for their Bhutia porters, who eventually broke down. It is typical of Morshead, who never had difficulties with his men, that he took on himself the entire blame for the failure of his men. "I have thing but praise for the Bhutia coolies of the higher Himalaya", he writes. “On rock they climh like goats, while on ice they readily learn step-cutting. It appears very doubtful if the present-day expense of importing Alpine guides can ever justify their employment in future Himalayan exploration". Morshead and Kellas failed to reach the summit of Kamet mainly owing to the fact that the porters could not be induced to place a camp at Meade's Col at 23,500 feet, but the physiological results of this expedition were to prove most valuable when organizing the Everest Expedition a year later.

Morshead concludes a narrative on the Kamet Expedition with these words:

It only remains to express my gratitude at being privileged to serve my apprenticeship in mountaineering under so experienced a hand as Dr. Kellas. Failure is often more instructive than success and I can only hope that this expedition, on which I shall always look back with feelings of pleasure, may be the prelude to other more successful future efforts in the same genial company.

Morshead already had in mind the possibility of an attempt to climb Mount Everest, and had already applied officially for permission to accompany the expedition while the project was in the air. He was in charge of the Survey of India detachment which was attached to the Reconnaissance of Everest in 1921 and which completed 12,000 square miles of totally unexplored country on the scale of four miles to an inch. During this expedition he climbed Kama Changri (21,300 feet) and to the Lakhpa La (22,350 feet), without feeling any inconvenience from the high altitude.

On the second expedition to Everest, in 1922, Morshead took leave to join the climbing members of the party, and with Mallory, Somervell and Norton took part in the first assault. He was with the first party to reach and camp at 25,000 feet, but the exertion of getting there, his complete disregard of cold and exhaustion, and his insistence on volunteering for far more than even his extraordinarily fit body could stand, prevented him from continuing the climb, when an altitude of 26,985 feet was attained. On this attempt Morshead was seriously frost-bitten and subsequently lost the top joints of three fingers of his right hand. Colonel Norton, in the Alpine Journal in November 1931, writes :-

This occurred at the 25,000-foot Camp V and meant that Mallory, Somervell and I had to get him down to Camp IV (23,000 feet) late on the evening of our first high climb ; I believe that it was Morshead's courage alone which enabled us to reach this camp by 11 P.M. and to descend next morning to Camp III through a foot of new snow, for he was barely able to walk ; yet he kept going doggedly without complaint and in spite of a bad fall on an ice slope, knowing that the\ safety of the whole party depended on his determination to ' stay the course'

But it was the after effects of the frost-bite that he contracted on this occasion which gave us the opportunity of appreciating fully his indomitable courage.

............... I remember a day when he had eaten lunch with us at the Base Camp and had borne at least his share of the conversation, apparently in the best of, form; after lunch I strolled, chatting, with him to our respective tents, but I had occasion immediately to look into his in order to borrow a theodolite : to my astonishment I found Morshead stretched on his back with his bandaged hands clenched above his head, groaning and with hi3 face distorted with pain.

All those that were lucky enough to know him on that expedition will think of him as the ideal companion for such times-ideal in a tight place, ideal in the tent when the day's troubles were over.

Owing to this frost-bite, Morshead could not join the Third Expedition as a climber, but his knowledge of the Tibetan language and his sympathy with the Tibetan people and porters had been of such service on the first two attempts, that the Everest Committee pressed him to take part as transport and base camp officer. To his great disappointment, though he offered to take leave without pay, he was told by his superiors that his services could not be spared and he found himself stationed in the south of India, far away from the mountains he loved, at the time when the expedition started. Though he realized that he could not be of the party to reach the summit, his heart was set on being close up at the finish, and he was confident, perhaps the most confident of all the members of the Second Expedition that the summit of Everest was attainable.

His restless spirit, however, survived these disappointments and, when on leave in England in 1927, he joined the Cambridge University expedition to Spitsbergen-" the one old man of the party ", as he put it- and on the conclusion of his leave returned to India via Constatinople and Baghdad.

He was appointed to the post of Director, Burma Circle, on the 14th May 1929 and immediately threw himself, with all his old energy, into his new charge. He began to study Burmese and learnt sufficient to make himself readily understood. His long tours of inspection-he could still cover on foot over thirty miles a day-are the talk of his old colleagues. Less than three weeks before his death he came back to Maymyo two days before he was expected, after inspecting a Survey party working near the Ruby Mines at Mogok. In order to avoid wasting one day waiting for a boat, he travelled direct across country, out-stripping his only native companion, carrying his own food, and sleeping out one night under the trees ! His thoughts turned constantly to the Hills, and only a few days before his death he discussed with the writer of this note the possibility of organizing a survey expedition to triangulate Kungka Shan, a very high peak in China, a fortnight's march from the Burmese border.

The following extract from an appreciation which appeared in the Times, written by one who had an intimate knowledge of Morshead, gives a very vivid and true picture of him, and can hardly improved upon.

The Survey of India has always been rich in adventure-loving officers whose explorations in the wilder regions of the Indian borderland have won them fame j outside the Service to which they belonged. Morshead was one of this company. He was a West countryman, small and dark, hard as nails, and over- flowing with energy. In the hot weather in India, when it is customary for the Survey officers to work out the results of the journeys they have made during the cold weather season, it was a common thing for him to go off at a week-end ; for a long tramp among the hills, and he would come back fresh and smiling after having covered perhaps seventy or eighty miles in a couple of days. As a traveller he was of the happy-go-lucky order, content with the lightest of equipment. Careless of personal comfort and blessed with the digestion of an ostrich, he seemed to thrive on the roughest fare, and could do with impunity things that would put most men on the sick list. The same qualities marked his work as a surveyor. He excelled, not so much as a great triangulator, but as a dogged pioneer who could be relied on to get things done.

Morshead was, however, more than the dogged pioneer. Owing to his careful study and sound knowledge of the Eastern Himalaya and Tibet, he had come to be looked upon as the leading authority on the nomenclature and geography of those regions. His opinions were always expressed modestly and without dogmatism; and he was so courteous in argument that he generally persuaded more obstinate ' men that he was right. And though perhaps not" excelling as a great triangulator ", no one could be more patient, more conscientious, 01 more hardworking when actually engaged upon that work. For instance, Bailey tells me that he remembers Morshead on one occasion camped for three weeks alone in the cold and dripping forest, five hundred feet below the summit of his station of observation, and five hundred feet above the nearest water-supply, waiting for a few minutes of clear weather to get the required observations with his theodolite. Every morning during those three weeks he was on his hill before sunrise in the vain hope of a few minutes free from cloud.

Henry Morshead married, in 1917, Evelyn Templer, eldest daughter of Harry Widdicombe, of St. George's Square, London, and had four sons and one daughter, all of whom survive him. There never was a more united or devoted family. His wife and children were in England when he took his early morning ride on Sunday, the 17th May 1931. An hour and a half after he left his bungalow, his riderless pony galloped back to Maymyo. An intensive search of the jungles throughout Sunday was fruitless, and it was not till seven o'clock the following morning that his body was found, some ; four miles away. Death was caused by a gunshot wound in the chest, inflicted at point-blank range. The Police were unable to trace any motive for the crime and failed to find the murderer ; their theories were unsupported by any tangible evidence. It may be that he was a victim of the Rebellion. That one who had so many friends, and no enemies, and who had throughout his strenuous life passed through so many hardships and perils, should be foully murdered when on an ordinary Sunday morning ride in civilization is a terrible tragedy and mystery. The most profound sympathy is felt by his many friends for his bereaved family.

Kenneth Mason.

Dr. Emil Trinkler


By the death, as the result of a motor car accident, of Dr. Emil, Trinkler Central Asian geography has lost one of its most capable and enthusiastic students.

Emil Trinkler was born in Bremen on the 19th May 1896. His studies, like those of many young men in `Britain, were interrupted by the Great War and he was called to serve his country. Immediately the Armistice was signed he went to the University of Munich, where he graduated in 1921 as a Doctor of Philosophy, after specializing in the study of Central Asian problems. In the same year he published an important paper on Tibet (1), which won him a prize at the University, and which, though containing nothing definitely new, was a most valuable and concise summary of the work of others. This work was skillfully co-ordinated and the paper contained an extremely useful bibliography of over 350 publications.

In 1923 Dr. Trinkler was commissioned by an Afghan trading company to explore and examine the deposites of ore in Aghanistan. His sound knowledge of geology enabled him to profit by this exceptional opportunity, and an additional commission from King Amanullah to prospect for coal and iron in the Hindukush, led him to make a careful examination of the structure of these mountains, particularly in the neighbourhood of Bamian.

On his return to Germany, Trinkler settled in Berlin, where he wrote a popular account of his travels in Afghanistan(2), and a comprehensive scientific paper on its geology(3). His spare time was devoted to an intensive study of Central Asia, its geography, geology, history and archaeology, in order to prepare himself for further work in this region. In 1927, thanks to the assistance provided by the Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen ( Wissenschaft, by the Senate of Bremen, and by several i private patrons, he started for Central Asia with his friend, Dr. Hellmut de Terra, where he spent the greater part of two ears(4).

(1) Tibet; Sein geographisches Bild und seine Stdlung im Asiatischen Kontinent. Munich, 1922.

(2) Quer durch Afghanistan nach Indian. Vowinekel, 1925. (English translation:Through the Heart of Afghanistan. Faber and Gwyer, London, 1928). See Review Himalayan Journal, vol. i, page 118.

Dr. Trinkler was not only a keen student of Central Asia, but he was a very active traveller with powers of sound observation and deduction. He spared no pains in his preparations and undertook no journey till he felt himself fully qualified to make it a success. To complete his equipment, he studied several European languages, including Russian and English, in order not to miss anything of importance that had been written about his subject, and he twice went to England where he stayed for several months in order to examine the books and photographs of the Royal Geographical Society's collection. To avoid having to rely on interpreters during his travels, he mastered Tibetan, Hindustani and Persian. At the time of his death he had just completed and sent to press the geographical account of his last journey, the proofs of which, as well as the geological and morphological sections, will now be published by Dr. de Terra. He also had already in view another journey, and was, considering a proposal to reside in India for a period in order to be nearer his interests. His friends in India will regret that this intention has been frustrated. He was to have joined the Himalayan Club in 1931.

Kenneth Mason.

(3) Afghanistan,: Fine Landeskundliche Studie. Petermauns Mitteilungen. Erg. H. 196. Gotha: Justus Perthes, 1928.

(4) For a brief account of this journey see Himalayan Journal, vol. i, p. 90, See also Himalayan Journal, vol. iii, p. 42 and p. 143; Geoj. Jowrn., vol. Ixxv, pp. 225-32, and 505-17; Journ. Cent. As. Soc., 1930, pp. 5-18. A fuller account without scientific details appears iu his book, Tm Land der Sturme, Leipzig : Brockhaua, 1929; and an English translation of this has appeared posthumously under the title, The Stormswepl Roof of Asia : London : Seely, Service and Co. (see Review in this volume).

H.T. Moreshead, 1882-1931.

H.T. Moreshead, 1882-1931.