Saturday 6 April 2019

Andrew (Sandy) Comyn Irvine (1902 - 1924) – British Mountaineer

Sandy Irvine was born Andrew Comyn Irvine in Birkenhead, Wirral on 8th April 1902, one of six children. His parents were William Ferguson Irvine (1869–1962), and his wife, Lilian Davies-Colley (1870–1950). He was a cousin of journalist and writer Lyn Irvine, and also of pioneering female surgeon Eleanor Davies Colley and of political activist Harriet Shaw Weaver.
A schoolboy during The First World War, Sandy attended The Birkenhead School on the Wirral Peninsula - the school was just around the corner from the Birkenhead Institute school, where Wilfred Owen was educated.

Sandy, who also attended Shrewsbury School, had an aptitude for all things mechanical and when his school acquired a machine gun, he stripped it down and re-assembled it.  He then came up with a design for a contraption allowing pilots to fire machine guns in propeller-driven planes without damaging the propeller blades.  He also designed a gyroscopic stabiliser for planes and submitted the plans to the War Office.  A keen sportsman, Sandy also demonstrated an aptitude for rowing and climbing.

Sandy Irvine joined Mallory’s fourth expedition to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1924. Mallory and Irvine disappeared while trying to reach the summit in June 1924. The two men were last seen only a few hundred metres from the summit. In 1999, Mallory's body was discovered, only partially decomposed, close to the summit. Debate and research still continues as to whether they reached the summit and whether it was in fact Mallory and Irvine rather than Sir Edmund Hillary who were the first to conquer Mount Everest.

Photograph from World-Pass Magazine - photographer unknown.