Mallory at War

At the outbreak of The Great War on June 28th 1914, Mallory is reported to have been deeply shocked, believing strongly that international disputes should be solved with diplomacy and not physical action, along with some of his friends, Geoffrey Winthrop Young and Duncan Grant, they were deemed as pacifists.

George’s brother, Trafford Leigh Mallory and two of his best friends, Robert Graves and Rupert Brookes all joined the British Army in the early days, although opposed to war, George began to feel a sense of duty and help the war effort. In December 1915, having watched several of his own favourite students enlist, George L Mallory signed up to serve in the British Army and commissioned from the Royal Military Academy (RMA, Woolwich) into the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA).

On May 4th 1916, Mallory was first sent to serve on the front line in France as a young Second Lieutenant. That night Ruth wrote to her husband: “I think I must write to you tonight it makes me feel less far from you. I am alright dear. I am cheerful and I have not cried anymore. I had baby as soon as I got home till she went to bed and it was very comforting. She is more of a comfort than anything else I could have.” Mallory replied that her letters were like “great shafts of light which come pouring in on me”.

Mallory was assigned to the 40th Siege Battery, then position in the northern sector on the Western Front. That summer he took part in the Somme offensive. He wrote to his wife about the bombardment that took place before the infantry attack: “It was very noisy. Field batteries again firing over our heads (of course there are plenty in front of us too) and most annoying of them a 60-pounder which has a nasty trick of blowing out the lamp with its vigorous blast.”

Mallory wrote that he was “full of hope” that the offensive would be successful. On July 14th 1916 he sent another letter to Ruth Mallory arguing that: “It really seems as though we have given the Hun something of a whacking and also that his reserves are pretty well used up. Shall we find suddenly one day that the war is over – finished as dramatically as it began?” A few days later he was writing that “our hope of moving forward immediately seemed to have vanished.”

Later that month George Mallory saw flamethrowers in action for the first time. He described how he saw “a sort of liquid fire, a long line of trenches apparently on fire and exploding with great flashes and clouds of sparks.”

On August 15th 1916 he wrote about the large number of people killed during the Somme Offensive; “I don’t object to corpses so long as they are fresh… With the wounded, it is different. It always distresses me to see the.” As a member of the Royal Artillery he was less likely to be killed or wounded than in the infantry. He told his wife: “The chance of survival in my branch of the services is very large.”

Mallory was constantly worried about the dangers of killing his own men. He wrote in a letter to his wife about this fear: “Before I went to sleep I heard distinctly from the murmur of voices in the tent some mention of our troops being shelled out of a trench by our own guns… I can’t tell you what a miserable time I had after that. You see, if my registration had been untrue, it was my fault… I went over and over again in my mind all the circumstantial evidence that it was really our shells I had seen bursting and had horrid doubts and fears.”

Lieutenant Mallory went on leave in December 1916. When he returned to the Western Front he became a liaison officer to a French unit. He wrote a letter to his wife about the conditions on the front-line: “The surroundings are indescribably desolate and dotted with small crosses. We haven’t many dead in the trenches (at least only one decapitated unfortunate has been discovered below the surface) but those outside could well do with some loose earth over them.”

In May 1917, he was forced to return to England to have an operation on an ankle injury that made it very difficult to walk. In September 1917 Mallory was sent to Winchester to train on some new guns. He was later sent on a battery commander’s course in Lydd.

Mallory returned to the Western Front in September 1918. He joined 515 Siege Battery RGA near Arras. His commanding officer was Gwilym Lloyd George, the son of David Lloyd George, the prime minister. He was with the company when the Armistice was declared on 11th November 1918.

Mallory served in France until January 1919. He returned to teaching history at Charterhouse and revived the college mountaineering group. Of the original sixty members, twenty-three had been killed and eleven more wounded.

The Holt

The Holt was the marriage home of George. L. Mallory and his beloved wife Ruth from 1914 until George’s disappearance and death in June 1924. Gifted to the couple by Ruth’s father, Hugh Thackery Turner, upon their marriage on July 29th 1914 along with an annual income of £750 it was located close to the Turner family estate in Godalming, Surrey.

Mallory and Ruth spent many years creating happy memories at The Holt, where on September 19th 1915, Ruth gave birth to their first child, a girl who they named Francis Clare. At the time George was working as a teacher at Charterhouse, having completed his studies at the Magdalene College, Cambridge.

In December 1916, George signed up to serve with the Royal Artillery and help the war effort in France having watched his brother, close friends and favourite students already enlist earlier that year. Throughout, 1916 to 1918, George and Ruth’s time together at The Holt were very sparse but on September 16th 1917, the house welcomed the birth of their second child, another girl who they named Beridge Ruth Mallory whilst Mallory was posted to work back in safety of London on a year’s posting before returning to the front line again in September 1918.

George returned to his wife and two children in January 1919 and spent the next five years of his life living happily at The Holt and welcoming their third child on the 21st August 1920, a son who they named John Mallory.

The Holt is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture and now the home of the Jordan family who have restored it to a high standard.

George Mallory Found 75 Years On

George. L. Mallory was a famed British mountaineer and explorer. Long before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to summit it, Mallory joined a British expedition to reach the top of Mount Everest.

In 1999, climbers working on the BBC’s “Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition” arrived at Everest with the sole purpose of locating the pair. Despite 75 years passing since Mallory and Irvine disappeared, the odds were good. The constantly freezing temperatures and permanent layer of permafrost on Everest preserve the bodies of climbers who perish on its slopes almost perfectly.

Irvine’s body was never found, though his climbing axe was located roughly 800 feet above Mallory’s body. Researchers concluded from the location of the axe, and a rope found tied around Mallory’s waist, that Mallory had likely been tied to Irvine, and either fell, dragging Irvine with him, or cut himself free before doing so. The pair’s death was attributed to a fall.

Whether or not George Mallory and Andrew Irvine ever reached the summit remains a mystery, though experts have speculated that the position of the body suggests that Mallory was climbing down the mountain, rather than up it. According to the survivors of the 1924 climbing expedition, Mallory was carrying a camera to document his and Irvine’s success, should they reach the summit, but no camera has ever been found.

Experts from Kodak have said that if a camera was ever found, the film could likely still be developed, though several expeditions in recent years to locate the film have proved to be fruitless.

Charity Commission England & Wales Status

On Friday 10thApril, The George Mallory Foundation received confirmation that our registration with the Charity Commission England & Wales had been successful. Our charitable purpose is “To advance the education of the public in the life, achievements and legacy of British Explorer, George. H. L. Mallory by the construction of a central memorial and support to national commemorations. Raising awareness through public talks, events and broadcasts.”

The Charity Commission England & Wales will act as out governing body and all of our annual reports and accounts will be submitted to them at the end of each financial year on March 31st. They will be available for public view and scrutiny at – https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity-commission

Hobcroft House

Hobcroft House was the original Mallory family home and one of the first places George Mallory taught himself how to climb. The start of what would become a magnificent future in mountaineering.

Located on Hobcroft Lane in Mobberley, Cheshire, Hobcroft House was built in 1890. It is a four-storey property which had remained empty until 2017 when Manchester Airport finally put the property up for auction and was bought by its current owner. This stunning building with its turret, spire and adjoining coach house, stables and paddocks was the perfect place for a young pioneer to grow up.

George was born in 1886 at nearby Newton Hall where his sisters Victoria and Mary were also, before the family moved to Hobcroft House. Hobcroft house was bought by George’s father, The Rev Herbert Leigh Mallory, the former rector of Mobberley. Still to this date there is a date stone on the house with his initials dating 1890.

Whilst George enjoyed many days climbing and exploring the surrounding Manchester Greenbelt and farm land, well before Manchester Airport in its current form was constructed, his farther worked just 500m down the road at St Wilfred’s Parish Church. Both Hobcroft House and St Wilfred’s proved to be the perfect training ground for any child growing up in the Victorian era of ‘firsts’, reading and listening to the adventures of Shackleton, Scott and Amundson.

George’s younger brother, Trafford Leigh Mallory was however born at Hobcroft House and after fighting at Ypres during the First World War and later promoted to the Chief of Fighter Command in the Royal Air Force at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was later killed in 1944, when his plane crashed in the French Alps. It is thought the Mallory family had earlier left Hobcroft in 1904 when George’s father moved on to another posting.

Hobcroft House is a stunning property and is currently being restored to its former glory by its new owner. It will always remain an important place which played a huge part in British history and the life and achievements of George. H. L. Mallory.

1924 British Expedition

In 1924 Mallory was selected for the third expedition. This was to be the mountaineer’s final outing, as he and fellow climber Andrew Irvine disappeared on the North-East ridge of the mountain on June 8. The particularities of whether Mallory and Irvine had actually reached the summit prior to their disappearance continue to be the subject of numerous studies. In the 1930s Irvine’s ice axe was found at about 27,700 feet (8,440 metres), and in 1975 a Chinese climber discovered a body that he described as being that of an Englishman.

An expedition set out in 1999 to search for the two bodies but only revealed Mallory’s, which was found at 26,760 feet (8,155 metres), determining that he had died after a bad fall. It was initially hoped that the camera which Mallory had with him might reveal if he and Irvine had reached the summit. Possessions such as an altimeter, pocketknife, and letters were found but no camera. His body was buried where it had been discovered.

1921 and 1922 British Expeditions

The first of several reconnaissance missions led by the Royal Geographical Society, the aim of the 1921 Everest expedition was to survey the landscape and summit of Mount Everest. Setting out from Darjeeling, India, the expedition documented the vistas, local communities, wildlife and landscapes along their journey towards the world’s highest peak. Photographs from the expedition, taken by George Mallory, Edward Wheeler and Alexander Wollaston, among others, were intended to complement the expedition’s surveying work in preparation for future attempts to ascend to Mount Everest’s summit. The photographs attest to the intrepid nature of the expedition, capturing the pristine natural landscape, and are some of the very first photographs and panoramas ever taken of Mount Everest.

In Mallory’s account of this initial expedition, he wrote: “Mountain shapes are often fantastic seen through a mist: these were like the wildest creation of a dream… Gradually, very gradually, we saw the great mountain sides and glaciers and arètes, now one fragment and now another through the floating rifts, until far higher in the sky than imagination had dared to suggest the white summit of Everest appeared.”

In September the party was forced to retreat from an initial attempt at reaching the summit due to high winds. A second expedition the following year was similarly revealing, and benefited from the innovation of bottled oxygen during a number of tentative ascents. An attempt to reach the summit ended tragically in an avalanche which killed several members of the team.

George. H. L. Mallory 1886 – 1924

George. H. L. Mallory, was born in Mobberley in 1886 to the local clergyman, Herbert Leigh Mallory of Saint Wilfred’s Parish Church, Mobberley. In his early years, Mallory’s family bought their first family home at Hobcroft House on Hobrcoft Lane, where he self-taught the art of climbing, utilising the homes tall chimneys and the church tower where his father preached. He later went on to read History at Cambridge University in 1905 and in December 1915 he commissioned into the Royal Artillery whom he served with throughout the First World War and fought with in the Battle of the Somme.

After the war, Mallory resigned his commission in 1920 and unable to resettle back into ‘normal’ life he signed up to The Geographical Societies 1921 British Expedition to Everest, this would be his first of three. On Mallory’s third expedition, Mallory and his fellow climbing partner, Chester’s own Andrew “Sandy” Irvine decided to make their move for the summit on June 6th before the wintery monsoon season was forecast to hit. Mallory and Irvine were last seen by a fellow expedition member, Noel Odell whom reportedly saw the pair heading towards the “Third Step” and were “going strongly for the top”. Mallory and Irvine then disappeared into the clouds never to be seen again until Mallory’s body was found in 1999 just 200m from their summit camp (Camp VI) and appeared to have been on the descent. George Mallory’s body and possessions remained in very good condition within the ‘Death Zone’ but his pocket camera and picture of his wife Ruth, which he promised to place at the summit, remain missing.

Mallory is believed by many today to have summited the top of Everest on June 8th, 1924. Over the years he inspired, was honoured by Kings and quoted by Presidents (President John F Kennedy when he launched the US space program in 1961) and explorers alike for his infamous answer when asked ‘why’ he wanted to reach the top of the world, he responded; “Because it’s there!”.

The George Mallory Foundation

The George Mallory Foundation was established in January 2020 by Royal Artillery Officer, Captain Anthony Harrison, with an objective to design and create a national memorial to George. H. L. Mallory in his home village of Mobberley, Cheshire.

Over the four years between 2020 and 2024, The George Mallory Foundation will nationally commemorate one of Britains greatest explorers. We will celebrate each major step in Mallory’s three expeditions to reach his ultimate goal of climbing to the Summit of Everest at 8848m, as they approach their centenaries.