Henry Treise Morshead

Is your surname Morshead?

Research the Morshead family

Henry Treise Morshead's Geni Profile

Records for Henry Morshead

7,317 Records

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Related Projects

Henry Treise Morshead

Death: Died in Pyin Oo Lwin, Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Immediate Family:

Son of Reginald Morshead and Ella Mary Moreshead
Husband of Evelyn Templer Widdecombe
Father of Owen Henry Morshead; Audrey Savill; <private> Morshead; <private> Morshead and Hugh Sperling Morshead
Brother of John Trelawney Morshead; Reginald Sperling Morshead; Phylllis Morshead; Arminell Morshead; Mabel Morshead and 4 others

Managed by: Susan Mary Rayner (Green) (RYAN)
Last Updated:
view all 17

Immediate Family

About Henry Treise Morshead

Henry MorsheadFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search Henry Treise Morshead

Henry Morshead in 1921 Born (1882-11-23)23 November 1882 Devon Died 17 May 1931(1931-05-17) (aged 48) Maymyo, Burma Nationality British Occupation Surveyor Employer Survey of India Known for Exploring Tsangpo Gorge, 1920s Mount Everest expeditions Spouse(s) Evelyn Morshead, née Widdicombe (1888–1978) Children Hugh (1920–45), Ian (1922), Owen (1923–44), Audrey (1925), Nigel (1929)[1]

Henry Treise Morshead DSO, RE, FRGS (23 November 1882 – 17 May 1931) was an English surveyor, explorer and mountaineer. He is well known for several achievements – with Frederick Bailey he explored the Tsangpo Gorge and finally confirmed that the Yarlung Tsangpo flows into the Brahmaputra river after cascading through Himalaya; also he was a member of the 1921 and 1922 British Mount Everest expeditions and in 1922 he climbed to a height of over 25,000 feet (7,600 m). His death was due to murder and the circumstances remain mysterious.

Early and personal life[edit]Born in 1882 and brought up at Hurlditch Court, near Tavistock near the Devon–Cornwall border, Henry Morshead was the eldest son of Reginald Morshead, a banker, and Ella Mary Morshead, née Sperling.[2] He was educated at Winchester College where he did reasonably well and at a second attempt passed the exams to enter the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, to become an officer in the Royal Engineers in 1901.[3][4][5][6] At the Chatham Royal School of Military Engineering he had such a distinguished record that in 1904 he was posted to the Indian Army in the Royal Engineers' Military Works Services at Agra.[6][note 1]

In 1906 he joined the Survey of India where, as was often the case, he retained his military status and rank. Apart from his service in the Great War he remained with the Survey until his death.[3] Morshead was based at Dehradun, Uttarakhand, the scientific and exploration headquarters on the Survey of India. He became in charge of the Forest Map Office, then the Computing Office, then the Triangulation Surveying Party. He became knowledgable in the history of Himalayan exploration, particularly in Tibet. He distinguished himself on several arduous winter Himalayan expeditions.[3] He was tough, well able to live off the land in regions of great heat and danger.[7] Morshead was promoted to captain in 1912 .[8]

On leave in 1916, he met Evelyn (Evie) Widdicombe who was Secretary and Librarian for the Froedel Society for the Promotion of the Kindergarten System. Her family had moved to Canada when Evie was a child where her father, Harry Templer Widdicombe, failed to make his fortune so her mother had returned to England with the children. Her mother had founded a ladies' residential club which flourished.[9] Morshead married Evie in 1917 and they had four sons and a daughter.[3][10][11] Two of their sons were killed in World War II.[1]

Abor Expedition and exploration of the Tsangpo Gorge[edit] Sketch of rivers arising on Tibetan plateauNorth of Himalaya, the Yarlung Tsangpo River flows east through the Tibetan Plateau and then turns south into a series of massive gorges in Himalayan mountains. Until the 1880s it was unknown by which route it eventually reached the sea.[12] It could have been any of the Yangtse, Mekong, Salween, Irrawaddy or Brahmaputra rivers all of which have headwaters this region.[note 2] Kinthup, a Lepcha man from Sikkim had provided some evidence that the Tsangpo flowed into the Dihang (which is a tributary of the Brahmaputra) but he was not widely believed.[12][14] By 1911 the connection was widely accepted.[15] Another mystery remained: the river dropped from 9,000 feet (2,700 m) to 1,000 feet (300 m) in a distance of perhaps 100 miles (160 km) which is extremely steep for a river of this size.[15] It seemed there must be a massive waterfall and, indeed, Kinthup had reported one 150 feet (46 m) high.[12]

In 1911-12 as part of the Abor Expedition, the Survey of India conducted widespread surveying of the tributaries of the Brahmaputra.[16] Morshead was in a team surveying the Dibang River while Frederick Bailey was surveying the Dihang.[15][note 3] Oakes and Field of the Dihang team were first to measure the height of the 25,445-foot (7,756 m) Namcha Barwa and, from Dibang, Morshead confirmed the height – the separate measurements were able to provide a very accurate location.[17]

Bailey and Morshead's map of the route of the expeditionIn 1913 Bailey, an intelligence officer with the Indian Army, invited Morshead to be the surveyor in an expedition to explore the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon (Tsangpo Gorge), now known to be the world's deepest gorge.[18][note 4] Bailey and Morshead explored from the south with Morshead surveying the entire route and calculating the results as they went so as not to delay progress. By ascending the Dibang river and crossing the Yonggyap Pass ( WikiMiniAtlas 29°13′00″N 95°35′00″E / 29.21667°N 95.58333°E / 29.21667; 95.58333[19]) and the Himalayan watershed into Tibet, they reached the Dihang and started up the Gorge.[20]

When they were at Lagung, just east of Namcha Barwa, they were arrested by the Nyerpa of Pome who took them to Showa on the Po Tsangpo river. After they had been imprisoned for several days they were released. By following this river downstream to the west and then north they reached the Rong Chu valley where they headed south to reach the Dihang river again, this time upstream of the Gorge and just south of Gyala Peri. Hence they penetrated the massive sweep of the Tsangpo Gorge, north east of Namcha Barwa. They were able to go downstream as far as Pemakoi-chen where they found the immense Tsangpo Gorge impassible. They were only about 45 miles (72 km) upstream of Lagung but they had to turn to the north to follow the Tsangpo upstream to Tsetang where they left the river and headed south through eastern Bhutan to Trashigang, eventually to arrive at Rangiya back in India.[3][21] The expedition covered 1,680 miles (2,700 km) on foot and lasted from 16 May to 14 November 1913.[22][23]

In doing this they proved that the Dibang tributary of the Brahmaputra flows around rather than through the Himalayan mountains and does not connect with the Tsangpo.[24] They also proved conclusively that the Tsangpo–Dihang–Brahmaputra was a single river and for the first time established its accurate course.[25] The highest waterfall they found was 30 feet (9.1 m) and they considered there was unlikely to be a higher fall – this came as a disappointment even to the professionals.[26][note 5] For his work Morshead was awarded the Macgregor Medal by the United Service Institution of India. At the time the expedition was regarded as a great feat of exploration and it drew international acclaim.[3]

War service and return to Survey of India[edit]On the outbreak of war in 1914 he was posted to India but was immediately sent back to England to train sappers. In 1915 commanded the 212th Field Company, Royal Engineers 33rd Division in the Battle of the Hohenzollern Redoubt.[3] His company was moved for the Battle of the Somme where he was promoted to major in 1916 and was awarded the DSO.[3][28] He was at the Battle of Arras and the Battle of Passchendaele after which he was evacuated home with trench fever, returning to France in 1918 to command the 46th Division at the successful crossing of the Canal du Nord.[3][29] He was promoted to brevet lieutenant colonel but was severely wounded by shrapnel and was sent back to England. After three weeks' leave he returned to the front but the war had by then just ended.[30]

After the war Morshead, back in his substantive rank of major, returned to the Survey of India to lead survey work in Waziristan.[3][31] In 1920 he accompanied Alexander Kellas in an attempt to climb the 25,447-foot (7,756 m) Kamet but the porters could not be persuaded to establish a camp at 23,500 feet (7,200 m). Morshead shouldered the blame – "I have nothing but praise for the Bhutia coolies of the higher Himalaya. On rock they climb 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". Although the expedition did not reach the summit, their physiological studies at altitude were to be of help in the next years' Everest expeditions.[3]

Mount Everest[edit] Morshead's mapOn the 1921 British reconnaissance expedition, Morshead led the Survey of India team which mapped, at a scale of four miles to an inch (1:250,000), 12,000 square miles (31,000 km2) of entirely unexplored country. During this expedition he climbed Kama Changri at 21,300 feet (6,500 m) and with George Mallory was the first to establish the camp on the 22,350-foot (6,810 m) Lhakpa La.[3][32]

1921 Everest party. Morshead is front right.In the 1922 expedition, Morshead was a member of the Everest climbing party itself.[3] Because he had only been allowed leave at the last minute his expedition clothing had to be bought at Darjeeling bazaar and it was inadequate.[33] On 20 May 1922 with Mallory, Howard Somervell and Teddy Norton, Morshead was in the first assault team, which attempted the reaching the summit without oxygen. As the party left the North Col to head up towards the north east ridge, Norton's rucksack fell down to the glacier and this reduced the overnight clothing for camp V at 25,000 feet (7,600 m).[34] The camp was at a higher altitude that anyone had ever been before.[35] The next morning another rucksack was let slip but Morshead climbed down 100 feet (30 m) to recover it. However, on resuming the climb Morshead was almost immediately unable to continue and so went down to camp V while the other three continued. The team reached 26,985 feet (8,225 m) before turning back.[34][36]

They joined Morshead at camp V who by then was very cold and all four immediately went down to camp IV on the North Col. On the way Morshead slipped and dragged two other man down the couloir. However Mallory managed to stop the fall and saved everyone's lives. They reached camp at 23:30 but a logistical error had meant that the stove and fuel had been taken to a lower camp so there was no liquid water and hence no edible food available. After surviving the night on the Col they descended to the glacier the next day but by then Somervell thought that Morshead was "not far from death". Norton, the expedition leader, wrote of him, "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'".[37][3][38][36] Morshead had severe frostbite to his hands and a foot and later three finger joints had to be amputated. However, at the time he hid the pain of his injuries from his colleagues.[3]

Bangalore and Burma[edit]For the 1924 Everest expedition Morshead was not considered able to participate as a climber because of his injuries but he was offered the role of base camp and transport officer. He had to turn this down because his employers would not give permission, even for unpaid leave.[3][39][40] However, in the 1924 Olympic Games medals were awarded for mountaineering and Morshead received a special medal awarded to the climbers on the 1922 expedition.[41]

In 1923 a promotion involved relocating to Bangalore, far removed from Himalaya. He led an active social life, with sports and big game hunting on the agenda.[42] In 1927, he joined a Cambridge University expedition to Spitsbergen after which he returned to India overland as far as Basra, Iraq.[43][3] He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1928, becoming deputy director of the Geodetic Branch.[44][45]

April 1929 brought promotion to Director of the Survey of India's Burma Circle[note 6] where Morshead lived in Maymyo, Burma. At the time Burma was a province of British India. He studied the Burmese language and made lengthy tours of inspection of surveying in that country.[3][45] Until this time his family had always lived with him but his eldest son became old enough for school and so returned to England, initially with the nanny.[46]

Morshead's murder[edit]In February 1931 Morshead stayed in Burma while the rest of the family returned to England for reasons of schooling. It was a time of unrest. A rebellion had started in Burma, against British rule, and Thakin rebels were in the vicinity of Maymyo. A colleage of Morshead had been shot at by a disaffected Survey employee who had been convicted of attempted murder. On 17 May 1931 Morshead set off riding by himself and later that day his riderless pony was discovered back in Maymyo. After extensive searching his body was found next day in the jungle nearby. He had been shot in the chest at point blank range. Two people were arrested, an ex-Gurkha who had been out shooting at the time, and the man whose gun he had been using. There was no apparent motive and no charges were ever brought because both men seemed to have alibis.[3][47]

In 1982 Morshead's son Ian published a biography of his father.[14] Regarding his father's death he was suspicious because, although the first newspaper reports said his father had been murdered, later reports spoke of his being killed by a tiger, or by rebels. In 1980 Ian Morshead visited Burma and spoke to some of the people involved at the time. When his father's family were back in England, Henry's sister Ruth had been living with him in Burma. Henry disapproved of a local leader of the community, Syed Ali, who had been seen out horse riding with Ruth. Morshead had possibly had an argument with him. A week later on Henry's fatal pony trek it is likely he had borrowed Syed Ali's pony because when the pony returned unescourted to Maymyo it was to Syed Ali's house it went, passing right by Henry's house. Ian Morshead speculated, but finally doubted his own speculation, that Syed Ali had arranged for Henry to be killed and this had been carried out by the Gurkha.[48]

Notes[edit]1.Jump up ^ The group responsible for military engineering in India and Burma. 2.Jump up ^ It is thought that, before the uplift of the Himalayas, the Tsangpo flowed into the Red River which flows to Gulf of Tonkin, near Hanoi. During the Himalayan orogeny the Brahmaputra captured the Red River's headwaters.[13] 3.Jump up ^ The Dibang and Dihang rivers are different tributaries of the Brahmaputra. Because it is now known the Tsangpo flows into the Dihang, the latter is now often regarded as a different name for the Brahmaputra in this region. 4.Jump up ^ 16,650 feet (5,070 m) deep. The Grand Canyon is 6,998 feet (2,133 m).[12] 5.Jump up ^ It later transpired there had been a mistranslation of Kinthup's report – the 150 feet related to a waterfall in a side stream.[27] A 1924 expedition found a 70-foot fall two miles further downstream and in 1998 a 108-foot fall was discovered.[12] 6.Jump up ^ In British India, many governmental functions were divided into regional directorates called "Circles". References[edit]Citations[edit]1.^ Jump up to: a b Morshead (1982), p. 4. 2.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 10-13. 3.^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Mason, Kenneth (1932). "In Memorium: Henry Treise Morshead". Himalayan Journal 4. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 4.Jump up ^ Davis (2012), p. 208. 5.Jump up ^ Rayner, Susan Mary. "Henry Treise Morshead". Geni. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 6.^ Jump up to: a b Morshead (1982), pp. 13-14. 7.Jump up ^ Davis (2012), pp. 208-209. 8.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 17. 9.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), p. 57. 10.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 57-58. 11.Jump up ^ "Widdicombe, Harry Templer (1864-after 1915)". westendvancouver. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 12.^ Jump up to: a b c d e Bose, SK (2010). "Tsangpo, The River of Mystery". Journal of the United Service Institution of India CXL (581). Retrieved 12 August 2014. 13.Jump up ^ Winn, Pete. "Geology and Geography of Tibet and Western China". Exploring the Rivers of Western China. Earth Science Expeditions. Retrieved 17 August 2014. 14.^ Jump up to: a b Morshead (1982). 15.^ Jump up to: a b c Morshead (1982), p. 22. 16.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 15-22. 17.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), p. 31. 18.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), 22,32-33. 19.Jump up ^ "Yonggyap Pass: India". Geographical Names. geographic.org. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 20.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 32-36. 21.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 36-49. 22.Jump up ^ Davis (2012), p. 210. 23.Jump up ^ Bailey (1914), pp. 84-89. 24.Jump up ^ Davis (2012), p. 209. 25.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), p. 49. 26.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), p. 40. 27.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), p. 47. 28.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), p. 58. 29.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 63-64. 30.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 58-69. 31.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), p. 74. 32.Jump up ^ Unsworth (2000), p. 65. 33.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), 101,105. 34.^ Jump up to: a b Morshead (1982), pp. 100-101. 35.Jump up ^ Unsworth (2000), p. 87. 36.^ Jump up to: a b Davis (2012), pp. 420-425. 37.Jump up ^ Unsworth (2000), p. 36. 38.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 100-103. 39.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 108-109. 40.Jump up ^ Unsworth (2000), p. 104. 41.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), p. 109. 42.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 108-115. 43.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 116-131. 44.Jump up ^ "War Office. 22nd June, 1928". The London Gazette. 28 June 1928. p. 4265. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 45.^ Jump up to: a b Morshead (1982), p. 135. 46.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 135-141. 47.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 142-159. 48.Jump up ^ Morshead (1982), pp. 142-194. Sources[edit]Bailey, F. T. (1914). Report on an Expedition on the North East Frontier, 1913. Simla: Government Monotype Press. Retrieved 13 August 2014. Davis, Wade (2012). Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest. Random House. ISBN 978-0099563839. Retrieved 14 June 2014. Morshead, Ian (1982). The life and murder of Henry Morshead: a true story from the days of the Raj. Cambridge: Oleander Press. ISBN 9780900891762. Unsworth, Walt (2000). Everest, The Mountaineering History. Seattle, WA, USA: Mountaineers Books. ISBN 978-0898866704. Further reading[edit]Bruce, C. G. (1923). The Assault on Mount Everest, 1922. Longmans, Green. Morshead, H. T. (1914). Report on an Exploration on the North East Frontier, 1913. Dehra Dun: Survey of India. Retrieved 13 August 2014. Morshead, H. T. (1921). "Report on the expedition to Kamet, 1920". Geographical Journal 57 (3): 213–219. Retrieved 18 August 2014. Morshead, H. T. (1922). "Appendix I. The Survey". In Howard-Bury, C. K. Mount Everest. The Reconnaissance, 1921. Longmans, Green. pp. 319–328. Retrieved 18 August 2014.

view all

Henry Treise Morshead's Timeline

November 23, 1882
Age 37
Age 40
September 14, 1925
Age 42
May 17, 1931
Age 48
Pyin Oo Lwin, Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar