‘Toby’ was a most popular figure with everyone who knew him. He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1898 and later joined the lst/4th Bombay Grenadiers. He saw service in Baluchistan, Somaliland, Egypt (in action against the Senussi), Anatolia and Waziristan.
On retirement he went to live in Darjeeling and while there he, together with Allsup, Gourlay and Shebbeare, founded the Mountain Club of India in 1927 in Calcutta, later to be amalgamated with the Himalayan Club, of which Tobin was a founder member.
His mountaineering was almost wholly related to the Himalayas. Between the years 1901 and 1914 he made such use as he could of short leaves to do rock scrambling in Frontier regions. In July 1920 he accompanied the late Harold Raeburn on the latter's first expedition to the Kangchenjunga massif and he was to be employed as transport officer on two further expeditions to this mountain—Bauer's in 1929 and Dyhrenfurth's in 1930. On the latter occasion, however, Tobin was invalided during the trip and had to return to Darjeeling. In 1931 he was of much assistance to Bauer again in the early preparations for the second Bavarian assault on Kangchenjunga. Later that same year he and R. Y. Jarvis made what was thought to be the first crossing by Europeans of the Sebu La between Kangchenjau and Chombu.
But more important than his actual mountaineering was his work as Honorary Secretary of the Royal Central Asian Society for the last seven years. Probably his most permanent memorial will be those volumes of the Himalayan Journal which he so ably edited from 1947 until his death; it will be difficult to find another so willing and capable of taking up so exacting a task. In 1938 he was elected to the Alpine Club and he was put upon the Joint Himalayan Committee whose final activity was to organize the 1953 Everest Expedition. When the Mount Everest Foundation was established, Tobin was elected to the Committee of Management. It was from this vantage point, as an 'elder statesman' of Himalayan travel (he made no pretensions to being an active climber, though in 1928 he had had a course of training climbs at the experienced hands of Franz Lochmatter), that his influence was felt; he knew so many of the earlier generation of Himalayan travellers and climbers; and his home in Lymington became a centre of information and encouragement where many a mountaineer (some, like Tilman, Streather, Braham, of much more experience than Tobin's) was to be found and innumerable other visitors from India.
He was twice married; his second wife was Helen Farquharson, daughter of the Medical Officer to the Darjeeling Tea Planters, whose death a few years ago came as a great shock. She was an outstanding figure in yachting circles in Lymingfcon and a visitor to their cheerful house might find himself entranced by the sight of a new dinghy being built in the dining-room, or the garage rendered unusable for normal purposes owing to the prior needs of cutting out a new set of sails. 'Toby' himself prudently refused to be engulfed by yacht racing and kept a small room strictly reserved for the study of the affairs of Himalayan climbing or Central Asian exploration.
To their daughter Barbara (now Mrs. Webb), to whom this Journal has before now been indebted for translation of French mountaineering articles, the Himalayan Club extends its sincere sympathy in a loss which occurred very suddenly and which has been felt widely amongst mountaineers of every generation and nationality.
Tom G. Longstaff
E. 0. Shebbeare
(By courtesy of the Editor, Alpine Journal)
Lt.-Col. H. W. Tobin, D.S.O., O.B.E., was one of the oldest members of the Club, being an original member of the Mountain Club of India founded in 1927, and a founder member of the Himalayan Club. After retirement from the Army, he lived in Darjeeling for many years and as early as 1929 he served on the Committee of what was then the Eastern Section of the Club. He was elected Vice-President in 1950, an office which he held until the time of his death in January 1957. The success of the Himalayan Club Annual Dinners which used to be held regularly in London before the war was largely the result of his efforts.
When he took over the editorship of the Journal in 1947, the future outlook appeared far from promising and it is to his credit that under his editorship the Journal gradually regained the very high standard achieved by the pre-war volumes. For Tobin indeed this was a labour of love, and few could have been better fitted to the task than he. His friendship with mountaineers of every nationality was widespread, sympathetic and sincere. If it is as Editor of the Himalayan Journal that he will be remembered in his later years, he will be remembered perhaps even more by climbers both in Britain and elsewhere for the encouragement and assistance he was always ready to provide when approached on Himalayan matters. Serving as he did as the Club's representative in the U.K. and also on the Committee of the Mount Everest Foundation he was, as it were, situated in the very centre of things and he was able to render valuable assistance to very many individuals and expeditions planning to visit the Himalayas.
LT.- COL.H.W. TOBIN, D.S.O., O.B.E.
He bore his years lightly, and remained fit and active to the end. When I lunched with him in London a month before his death he discussed projects for expanding the Club's activities in Britain, and judging by the enthusiasm he showed there seemed little doubt that these would have been carried out but for his sudden death.
T. H. Braham
At the time of going to Press, Anthony Streather wished to write an appreciation of H. W. Tobin but as he had only just returned from the expedition to Haramosh he was unable to complete it, and it will be included in the next issue.—Ed.
Dr. Donald Stafford Matthews, M.B., Ch.B., F.R.C.S., M.R.C.O.G., died of heart failure in Lima, Peru, at the age of thirty-nine. He packed into his life a wealth of experiences and possessed a zest for living that won him all those things that he valued most, adventure, friendship and freedom from the bondage of a circumscribed life.
Born in New Zealand he studied medicine in Edinburgh, and soon after qualifying entered the ‘Wavy Navy' as a Naval Combat Surgeon. Wartime service in the Pacific and Mediterranean seemed wholly to satisfy his quest for travel and adventure. Thereafter, he returned to London for a time and settled down to study gynaecology. His next venture comprised two years' doctoring in Nigeria where he combined his professional activities with investigations into many aspects of the life and customs of the people. Soon after this he came to Calcutta. He was not long in establishing a reputation as a competent surgeon, and began to take a prominent part in the social life of the city. The diversity of his friendships seemed to reflect the many-sided aspects of his character. He moved easily with the great and the small. There was no one he did not know and with whom he did not mix on terms of familiarity.
I began to know him well early in 1954 when he joined the Himalayan Club. John Kempe at that time was organizing the Kangchenjunga Reconnaissance, and he needed a doctor to complete the party. Though Don's experience of mountains was limited to skiing in Hew Zealand and some trekking in Nepal, I thought of him at once. He readily accepted as I knew he would and turned out to be a valuable member of the party. He had never handled a movie-camera, but he bought the most expensive model available and became the self-appointed photographer to the expedition. In addition he carried out some research on the effects of high- altitude and was in charge of the expedition's food. He was an ideal companion on the expedition, cheerful and unselfish. I can recollect the many evenings in the mess tent after supper when he held the floor with lively stories about his student days in Edinburgh, and his experiences in the Navy and in Nigeria. His impish humour often appeared at most curious moments. I remember how he cornered a rather embarrassed Charles Evans into repeating, during a lecture to the Club, Hillary's remark to George Lowe after his return from the summit of Everest.
Before he left Calcutta in 1956 he had already begun work on his book Medicine My Passport (published in London in September 1957, and reviewed elsewhere in this volume). He had decided to spend the next 12 to 18 months travelling around in search of new adventures. He soon teamed up with John Kempe and Jack Tucker again as a member of their expedition to the Peruvian Andes which included George Band, Mike Westmacott and John Streetly.
Generous to a fault and full of charm, he loved life and seized with both hands the many opportunities which came to him. There was nothing he was not prepared to try once; and this, combined with his gift for coping with situations from which the more daunted might shrink, was constantly widening his horizons, and enriching his experiences,
In Lima at the conclusion of the Peruvian Expedition, apparently in perfect health, he returned to his hotel room in the evening and was found dead the following morning. It was a death he himself would have wished for. His life had been filled with adventure widely shared and deeply enjoyed, and he had lived it fully to the end.
T. H. Braham
Although Tom Bourdillon and Hermann Buhl were not members of the Himalayan Club, their sad passing is recorded here as a tribute to their exceptional achievements in the Himalayas.
Tom Bourdillon was killed on July 29th, 1956, during an ascent of the East Buttress of the Jagihorn in the Bernese Oberland.
One of Britain's outstanding climbers, he did much to reestablish the prestige of British climbing in Europe during the last five vears In 1949 after leaving Oxford, where he obtained an Honours degree in Physics, he was attached to the Ministry of Supplv It was at the experimental station m Westcott that, together with his father, he devised the closed-circuit oxygen apparatus which Charles Evans and he used on May 26th, 1953, during their prodigious climb from the South Col to the South summit of Everest and back. He was a member of Eric Shipton's Everest Reconnaissance team in 1951, and also of the 1952 Cho Oyu party. Gentle and modest, he possessed remarkable qualities of determination. Even under the most adverse conditions he had an unruffled and cheerful manner. His talents covered a wide held. We express our deepest sympathy to his wife.
Hermann Buhl was killed on June 27th, 1957, during an attempt on Chogolisa, 25,110 ft. He was a member of an Austrian team, and had earlier succeeded in climbing Broad Peak, 26,414 ft., thus achieving the distinction of becoming the first climber to reach the summits of two mountains over 26,000 ft.
Buhl, whose home was in Innsbruck, had gained a unique reputation for his remarkable mountaineering feats. His record of great climbs in Europe, often undertaken under exceptional conditions, and his many solitary ascents of very difficult routes, placed him in a class limited to very few climbers of the present generation.
He astonished the climbing world by his solitary ascent of Nanga Parbat in 1953—an unparalleled feat in Himalayan mountaineering. Buhl succeeded because he had the good fortune to enjoy perfect conditions for the climb; and because he had accustomed himself by force of long training to expose himself to the uttermost limits of endurance. He has described the climb fully in his autobiography, Nanga Parbat Pilgrimage, published in 1956 (reviewed elsewhere in this volume), which also contains vivid accounts of his early climbing experiences.
T. H. B.
George Wood-Johnson, who died on August 12th, 1956, was one of the most active members of the Club in its early days. He had passed his youth in the Lake District and had become a fine rock- climber. He came out to Darjeeling in 1929 as a tea planter, but with the primary object of attempting some of the Himalayan giants. While assistant at Gielle Tea Estate he did some useful exploration in the then less-known parts of Sikkim and, in 1930, joined the International Kangchenjunga Expedition led by G. O. Dyhrenfurth. The late Frank Smythe was also of the party. George accompanied them in the dual capacity, both as a climber and, with Tobin, as transport officer. He took part in the first attempt on Jonsong Peak on May 30th and displayed the utmost determination to attain the summit. In 1933, he was invited to join the Everest Expedition under Hugh Ruttledge and again did splendid work, mostly with transport. Not long afterwards he left tea and returned to his old haunts near his beloved Cumberland hills. His genial and loyal personality will be much missed by all who knew him.
H. W. Tobin
Born in 1883, Basil Gould was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford. He passed into the Indian Civil Service and thence entered the Political Department of the Government of India, where his career was brilliant and diversified. In 1913, he was placed in charge of the four Tibetan boys sent, as an experiment, to be educated at Rugby. He became Private Secretary to the Viceroy and then served for seven years in Persia. Then at Kabul as Counsellor, being instrumental in the evacuation by air of women and children from the British Legation. He held various posts in 'the North-West Frontier Provinces and in Baluchistan, nearly losing his life in the great Quetta earthquake while succouring the injured and infirm. His last years of service were as Political Officer in Sikkim and for Bhutan and Tibet. There he took the opportunity of learning the language and customs of the Tibetans and, in 1936, headed a British Mission to Lhasa. At that time relations between Tibet and China were even more than usually strained and no successor had been found to the great Dalai Lama, who had died four years previously. In Lhasa, he made many good friends, several of whom have visited him and Lady Gould in their home at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. Sir Basil was widely recognized as a leading authority on the language and customs of Tibet, and kept in touch with conditions and current events there. Indeed, his advice was not infrequently sought by our Foreign Office. He was always a keen yachtsman, and after retirement raced with some success in his own Y.O.D. Genesta from the Royal Solent Yacht Club whereof he was a flag-officer.
The funeral service at St. James's Church, Yarmouth, was attended by many friends, including representatives both of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club and of the Royal Central Asian Society.
H. W. Tobin
While this Journal was still in print, we have learnt with deep regret of the death of Major N. D. Jayal. Maj. Jayal, aged 32, was Principal of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling from its inception in 1954, and his death is a severe loss to Indian mountaineering. He left Darjeeling in March 1958 to take part in the Indian Expedition to Cho Oyu and died of pneumonia on April 28th at the Expedition's Base Camp. An Obituary Notice will appear in the next volume.
T. H. B.