(Henry Cecil) John Hunt

(1910—1998) mountaineer

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Edmund Hillary (1919—2008) New Zealand mountaineer and explorer


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British mountaineer and explorer who led the 1953 expedition on which Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay (c. 1914–86) made the first ascent of Mount Everest. Hunt received a knighthood in 1953 and was created Baron Hunt of Llanfair Waterdine in 1966. Hunt was born in India, the son of a British army officer. He was educated at Marlborough College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, after which, in 1930, he was commissioned in the King's Royal Rifle Corps as a second lieutenant. He later served with the Indian police and spent his vacations mountaineering, joining three Himalayan expeditions before the outbreak of World War II. Serving with the KRRC in Italy, he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and achieved the rank of brigadier. In 1944 he took command of the 11th Indian Infantry Brigade. After the war he became a staff officer and in 1951 moved to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) with the rank of colonel. The following year he was appointed leader of the successful British Everest Expedition. Hillary and Tenzing reached the summit on 29 May 1953.

After retiring from the army in 1956, Hunt served as director of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme (1956–66) and was rector of Aberdeen University (1963–66). During the Biafran crisis in Nigeria, Hunt acted as personal advisor to the prime minister and led the government relief mission to the stricken area. He has served on many other committees and boards. In 1981 he gave his support to the newly formed Social Democratic Party; subsequently he allied himself with the Social and Liberal Democrats. His books include The Ascent of Everest (1953) and The Red Snows (1959). Among his many other awards and honours, he was made a CBE in 1945 and a KG in 1979. He also won the DSO in 1944.

From Who's Who in the Twentieth Century in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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