The death of Cavaliere Filippo De Filippi in the autumn of 1938 deprives the Himalayan Club of a distinguished Founder Member, who from its first beginnings was a keen supporter of all it stood for. When the late Sir Geoffrey Corbett first wrote to me in 1927 asking for a list of those who should be invited to become Founders, he suggested that we should include men from the continent of Europe who had already added considerably to our knowledge of the Himalaya and Karakoram. Such co-operation would, he thought, strengthen the bonds between mountaineers of different countries, and promote the friendship of nations. Sir Filippo responded with enthusiasm to the invitation and was subsequently a generous donor to our library.

De Filippi was born at Turin and educated at its University, where he studied medicine. During his vacations spent in the Alps he became a fine mountaineer and a keen geographer. He travelled widely on the Continent in the pursuit of his biological and medical studies. It was in 1897 that he began his close association with the Duke of the Abruzzi. In that year he reached the summit of Mount Elias in Alaska with the Duke. Four years later he visited the Caucasus, and in 1907 he accompanied the Duke on his great expedition to Ruwenzori.

His connexion with the Karakoram dates from 1909, when he was medical adviser, organizer, right-hand man, and subsequently historian of the Duke's fine expedition to the Baltoro glacier and K2. On his return from that he set to work to plan his own scientific expedition to the Karakoram, which included, not only the mapping of the many blanks in our knowledge of the country beyond the axis of the Great Karakoram, but also the complete scientific exploration of those regions. The details of his plan included geological, astronomical, meteorological, glaciological, gravimetric, and magnetic surveys to be carried out by scientific mountain surveyors fully qualified in each branch of these studies. It is safe to say that no expedition, either before or since, has ever gone to the Himalaya, or indeed to any other mountain range, so fully equipped to the last essential. This expedition was brought to a premature close by the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, and the full results were not completely published until 1935, when they had filled sixteen large volumes.

After the War, in which he served first in the medical organization of the Italian forces and later as a kind of liaison officer between Italy and England, De Filippi began to plan the completion of his Karakoram project. Financial support, however, was lacking, and the plans had to be temporarily abandoned. To those who followed after he gave advice and unstinted support, putting his wide knowledge at their disposal; and he never lost his deep interest in geography. He was an Honorary Member of the Royal Geographical Society, and had been awarded the Gold Medals of the British, American, French, and Italian Societies. A Knight of the Grown of Italy, he had the rare distinction, among foreigners, of becoming a Knight Commander of the Indian Empire.

De Filippi was a keen student also of historical geography. His English edition of the travels of Ippolito Desideri of Pistoia, the Jesuit traveller into Tibet in the early years of the eighteenth century, was of the utmost interest to students of that country. It was typical of him to give this account to us in English, typical of him merely to call himself the editor, though he was, in fact, translator, editor, and commentator combined, and typical of him that in the second edition, called for six years after the first, he so thoroughly revised those comments which later information had made desirable.

At his delightful home at Settignano, outside Florence, he was always hospitable to his many friends from all parts of the world. An ardent patriot who believed in the greatness of Italy's future and in the necessity of discipline to ensure it, he seemed to have a deep distrust of politics, and he never formally joined the Fascist party. He had wide sympathies for humanity at large, believing in liberty, but not licence; in service, but not servility. He was liberal in outlook, a devoted friend of the English, and none grieved more deeply over the political estrangement between Italy and England during the later years of his life; and he never allowed his loyalty to his own country to break his well-tried personal friendships.

Kenneth Mason.

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