American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Norman R. Streatfeild

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1941


Long before the Club’s 1938 K2 expedition left this country, its members asked the British government to lend Captain Streatfeild —the wiry Scot who had done such splendid work as liaison officer of the French expedition to Hidden Peak in 1936—to be liaison officer of a new expedition to the Karakoram. This keen, active British gentleman, who was soon to become one of the younger majors in the British army, already held a fine military record for his work with mountain artillery, and was noted for his many trips to Baltistan.

He had left Sandhurst and been in India some fourteen years before we knew him. During this period he had crossed a 22,000- ft. pass, climbed several 20,000-21,000-ft. peaks, and explored many unknown valleys in the Karakoram. On these small expeditions he had done valuable mapping for the Royal Indian Survey, and probably had come to know the Karakoram region as well as any white man. Between times he had indulged in tiger hunting and other shooting, and had won the Military Cross for valor under fire while fighting in Waziristan.

Our expedition in 1938 knew him as an extremely practical and capable transport officer (with a ready twinkle in his eye, and a fondness for American slang) who never missed a chance to help the group. Streatfeild was a part of the expedition as much as anyone. He supervised the transport of the party some 330 miles from Srinagar to K2 and back, took full share in the reconnaissance of the mountain, carried loads to the lower camps, and between times found leisure to do considerable mapping for the Indian Survey.

Late the same summer he was recalled to England to teach in the Artillery School at Larkhill. He had planned to visit America during the fall of 1939, but actually he was sent to France with the first British expeditionary force to go. Later he tried unsuccessfully to be transferred to Norway, where his knowledge of mountain fighting would have been so valuable. Throughout the winter in Flanders, Tilman reports, he frequently showed 8 mm. movies of the Karakoram to his troops, and by his constant care for their welfare bolstered their morale. He was drowned at Dunkirk.

Though Streatfeild was a member of the Club for only a year and a half, our loss is significant.

R. H. B.

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