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- T Howard Somervell -
- Dwight D. Eisenhower -


   LINKS to other pages in this site and to other sites in the Travelling Days series:

Autographs Home Page:      Bedford 1939 onwards:      BBC in Bedford:
BBC Symphony Orchestra Personalities:      Bedford Miscellany:       Bedford School (1940s):
Composers:      Conductors:       David Gentleman:      Glenn Miller:       Instrumentalists:
Personalities of the 1940s Part 1:       Pianists:       The RAEC in Cornwall:
Religion and Drama:       Singers:       BBC in Cornwall 1949:      Colin Day's List-O-Links:
America West Home Page:      Guest Book:

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T. HOWARD SOMERVELL:
Surgeon, Mountaineer, Musician and Accomplished Artist.
The autograph was obtained in the late 1940s following one of Somervell's lectures.

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   In the 1920s several attempts were made to climb Mount Everest. In the year following a reconnaissance expedition in 1921 General Charles Granville Bruce led an attempt on the summit from Tibet. Climbers on this expedition included: Lieutenant Colonel E. L. Strutt, George Leigh Mallory, George Ingle Finch, Howard Somervell, William Wakefield, Edward Felix Norton, Tom Longstaff, Captain John Noel, Geffrey Bruce and John Norris. When asked why he wanted to climb the mountain, Mallory gave the oft-quoted reply, "Because it's there!". This expedition, while providing valuable information, failed to reach the summit and seven Sherpa porters were killed in an avalanche.


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   In 1924, General Bruce again headed an expedition from Tibet. Climbers included on this team were: Edward Norton, John Noel, Howard Somervell, Geoffery Bruce, Noel Odell. Bentley Beetham, John de Vere Hazard, George Leigh Mallory, Andrew Irvine, E. O. Shebbeare and Dr. R.W.G. Hingston.

   The expedition was plagued by frostbite, snow blindness and a fatal case of pneumonia. Somervell was involved in a dramatic rescue of four Sherpas from the North Col which led to frostbite of his larynx. Norton and Somervell made an attempt on the summit and were able to reach a point at 28,128 ft on the North Face without using bottled oxygen before having to abandon their venture.

   A photo of some of the team members is shown below.
Back row: Irvine, Mallory, Norton, Odell, MacDonald.
Front row: Shebbeare, Bruce, Somervell, Beetham.


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   It was left to Mallory and Irvine, the youngest member of the team and an Oxford University student, equipped with oxygen cylinders to attempt the final stage by following the Northeast Ridge line. The picture on the right shows Mallory and Irvine making their last minute preparations.

   Just before they left Somervell handed his camera to Mallory so that the latter could photograph the scene at the summit. The camera was a Kodak Vest Pocket Model B similar to that shown below left.
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   At about 1pm on June 8th 1924 the two climbers were seen through a telescopic lens by geologist and photograher, Noel Odell (who took most of the pictures shown on this page). They seemed to be 'going strong for the top' and about a mile from their goal. The pair then disappeared in the mist, never to return.

   Mallory's body was recovered in May 1999 just 2000 feet from the summit but neither Irvine's body nor Somervell's camera were found. Did they make the summit? No one knows but it's just possible they did achieve their goal and later either fell to their deaths or died when their cylinders ran out of oxygen.

   A silent film 'Epic of Everest' was made of the expedition and was shown at cinemas throughout Britain. Tibetan folk-tunes, heard by Somervell in 1922 and 1924 and which he transcribed into western notation, were played as an accompaniment to the film by a Tibetan band. His much admired watercolors hang in the Alpine Club in London and were reproduced in a book describing the 1924 expedition.

   In 1922 he had been asked to consider accepting a medical post in a missionary hospital in India. Although he was later offered a prestigious position as consultant surgeon in London the suffering he had seen in India had moved him greatly and he returned to work in Travancore following the 1924 expedition.

   During his retirement Howard Somervell was much in demand as a lecturer. In his talks he described his adventures as a mountaineer, his work as a missionary and his faith as an evangelical Christian.



AutographEisenhower3a.jpg - 27828 BytesDWIGHT D. EISENHOWER was born the third of seven sons in Texas in 1890 and was brought up in Abilene, Kansas. He trained for military service at West Point. Later, as a 2nd lieutenant and stationed in Texas, he met Mamie Doud whom he married in 1916.

   In his early Army career, he served under Generals John J. Pershing and Douglas MacArthur. He commanded the Allied Forces landing in North Africa (Operation Torch) in November 1942. In 1944, he was Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force that invaded France on D Day.

   After the war, Eisenhower assumed supreme command over the new NATO force. being assembled in 1951. He ran for the Presidency of the US in 1952 and, employing the slogan, "I like Ike", won a landslide victory. Eisenhower.jpg - 33259 BytesBringing to the Presidency his prestige as general in command of the forces in Europe during World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower “obtained a truce in Korea and worked incessantly during his two terms to ease the tensions of the Cold War.”

   Although Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in 1955 he made a good recovery and in November 1956 was elected for a second term.

   “Eisenhower concentrated on maintaining world peace. He watched with pleasure the development of his ‘atoms for peace’ program…the loan of American uranium to ‘have not’ nations for peaceful purposes.

   “As desegregation of schools began, he sent troops into Little Rock, Arkansas, to assure compliance with the orders of a Federal court; he also ordered the complete desegregation of the Armed Forces. He wrote, ‘There must be no second class citizens in this country.’ ”
He left office in January 1961 and retired to his farm in Gettysburg. He died after a long illness on 28 March 1969.

   With acknowledgement to the White House, Washington DC for material contained in the above short biography and for the portrait of President Eisenhower.


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   The autograph was ‘traded’ in 1945 to the author of this site by a school friend at Bedford, Martin Blakeway. Martin had been evacuated, together with other members of Victoria College, Jersey, from the Channel Islands in 1940. He had a relative who worked for Montgomery and the autograph formed part of a letter from Eisenhower to Montgomery, presumably referring to Montgomery’s book, “From El Alamein to the Sangro” which he would have been working on at the time.


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The order (left) allegedly sent by Eisenhower to Glen Miller instructing Miller to leave Bedford and to go to the Continent (presumably Paris) in December 1944. It has been suggested that the service number attributed to Miller in the order is incorrect. Miller flew out on 15 December but failed to arrive at his destination.
See also the Glenn Miller page by clicking here.



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