|Eccentric Englishman Maurice Wilson. YouTube|
|Maurice Wilson with his gypsy moth plane-Ever Wrest, before his flight to India/en.wikipedia.org|
Maurice Wilson MC (21 April 1898 - c. 31 May, 1934) from Bradford was the son of a wealthy woolen mill owner and he would have stepped into his father's shoes and taken care of the mill with his brothers. But his fate had it the other way and with the outbreak of the First World War, he joined the British army on his eighteenth birthday, leaving his father's woolen mill job prospects in the cold storage.
As a soldier with the British army he proved his talents and quickly rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a Captain. He actively took part in the Battle of Passchendaele (from July to November 1917) and later won the Military Cross for his heroic engagement near Meteren (Dutch province of Gelderland). Here, being the only uninjured survivor of his unit, he single-handedly held a machine gun post against the advancing Germans. Later he left the army in 1919 because of his serious injury in his left arm almost paralyzed as a result of machine-gun fire. The injury never healed and left him in pain till the end of of his life.
His postwar transition to civilian life was a difficult one and for some period he had a chequered career in the US and New Zealand. Though financially he was quite comfortable, he was unhappy and his physical and mental health was not good. The doctors could not cure his TB that he contracted in the past. Surprisingly his illness was reasonably cured through a month of crash treatment program, involving intense prayer and fasting - a dose of western religion and eastern mysticism. Since his miraculous cure, he had become a votary of intense prayer and fasting as cure for ailments and in this vocation his commitment was strong.
|Ascent on Mt. Everest. longitudes.ups.com|
His weird idea was to fly a small plane to Tibet, crash land it near the summit on the upper slopes and walk up to the summit. Even an experienced mountaineer would shudder, contemplating a solo ascent on the most treacherous summit Everest. The funny thing is Wilson had to learn the basic of flying and mountaineering. He learned the basics of flying with a three-year old Gypsy Moth plane which he himself bought and got the license, taking twice the time required to get it. His peers were against his solo flight from England to India.
|difficult terrain. way to Mt. Everest. VeryHelpful.net|
His first attempt took him two mile close to Rutledge below North Col. However, bad weather forced him to retreat to the base camp. Following this, he was sick and snow blind and took more than a couple of weeks to recover. On 21st May, with help from the Sherpas, he made unsuccessful attempt on North Col. Next day, he could not cross the 40 foot ice wall at 22700 feet, a tough barrier. On his return to the base, Sherpas pleaded him to give up his ascent but he refused to give up. Again on May 29, Wilson set out to reach North Col and above, this time alone with no Sherpas assisting him. When he did not return to the base camp, the two Sherpas reached Kalimpong in July 1934 finally announced the first news of Wilson's death. A pathetic end of a spirited Britisher.
It was a fool hardy adventure by the Englishman whose obsession with fasting and faith in god never taught him what was right and what was wrong. Nobody would risk his life and make such an attempt without training and proper mountaineering gear.