Sir Francis Younghusband
- leader of British India's fateful incursion to
Lhasa in 1904
- also has Dharamsala connections. In 1856 his parents, Clara Shaw
lived in a bungalow in the pine forest above St. John's Church and
later bought land in the
to pioneer a tea plantation. Clara's brother, Robert Shaw, was a
renowned explorer of Central Asia and an early Kangra tea planter.|
Colonel Sir Francis Edward Younghusband (31 May 1863
- 31 July 1942) was a British Army officer, explorer, and
spiritualist. He is remembered chiefly for his travels in the Far
East and Central Asia and his writings on the subject.|
Sir Francis Younghusband (seated, center) wears a
thick fur coat against the cold winds of the Tibetan plateau at
Phari Dzong, Tibet, January 1904. His mission to Lhasa, a major
military expedition during which many Tibetans were killed, led
to the signing of the Treaty of Lhasa with His Holiness the 13th
Photo: Unknown, 1904 Photo
Courtesy R. G. S.
E Younghusband |
Francis Younghusband was born in 1863 at Murree in India to a
British military family, John Younghusband and his wife Clara Shaw.
Clara's brother, Robert Shaw, was a noted explorer of Central Asia.
As an infant, Francis was taken to live in England by his mother.
When Clara returned to India in 1867 she left her son in the care of
two austere and strictly religious aunts. In 1870 his mother and
father returned to England and reunited the family. In 1876 at age
thirteen Francis entered Clifton College, Bristol. In 1881 he
entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and in 1882 he was
commissioned as a subaltern in the 1st King's Dragoon Guards.
In 1886, on leave from his regiment, Younghusband
made an expedition through Manchuria, crossing the Gobi Desert and
pioneering a route from Kashgar and India through the uncharted
Mustagh Pass. For this he was elected the youngest member of the
Royal Geographic Society and received the society's coveted gold
In 1889, Younghusband was dispatched with a small escort of Gurkha
soldiers to survey an uncharted region of the Hunza valley and the
Khunjerab Pass through the Karakoram mountain range. Whilst encamped
in a remote area of Hunza, Younghusband received a messenger at his
camp, inviting him to dinner with Captain Gromchevsky, his Russian
counterpart in "The Great Game". Younghusband accepted the
invitation to Gromchevsky's camp, and after dinner the two rivals
talked into the night, sharing brandy and vodka, and discussing the
possibility of a Russian invasion of British India. Gromchevsky
impressed Younghusband with the horsemanship skills of his Cossack
escort, and Younghusband impressed Gromchevsky with the rifle drill
of his Gurkhas. After their meeting in this remote frontier region,
Gromchevksy resumed his expedition in the direction of Kashmir and
Younghusband continued his exploration of Hunza.
In 1890, Younghusband transferred to the Indian Political Service.
He served as a political officer on secondment from the British
Army. He served as British commissioner to Tibet from 1902-1904. In
1903-1904, under orders from the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, he
led a military mission to Tibet as a result of disputes over the
Sikkim-Tibet border; the mission controversially became a de facto
invasion and British forces occupied Lhasa. The British force was
supported by King Ugyen Wangchuck of Bhutan, who was knighted in
return for his services.
In 1906 Younghusband settled in Kashmir as the British
representative 1906 before returning to Britain where he became an
active member of many clubs and societies. During World War One his
patriotic Fight for Right campaign commissioned the song Jerusalem.
He was elected President of the Royal Geographic Society in 1919.
Later he actively encouraged climbers, including George Mallory, to
attempt Mount Everest, and they followed the same initial route as
the earlier Tibet Mission.
Younghusband's religious upbringing had a profound
influence on his later life. In 1884 he wrote in his diary that "I
shall through my life be carrying out God's Divine message to
mankind". Later, recovering from an accident, he would read Leo
Tolstoy's The Kingdom of God is Within You - a book which also
greatly influenced Mahatma Gandhi.
Younghusband was the founder of the World Congress of Faiths (1936),
and he wrote several books on faith and spirituality.
He encouraged one his domestic servants, Gladys Aylward, to become a
Christian missionary to China.
To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties
that they will not disclose to those who make no effort. That is the
reward the mountains give to effort. And it is because they have so
much to give and give it so lavishly to those who will wrestle with
them that men love the mountains and go back to them again and
again. The mountains reserve their choice gifts for those who stand
upon their summits.