-- biography page 4 --
|1851 was the year of the festival of Britain. Frank and Jean returned to a country where every available room was booked solid. Jean's parents however had arranged a cottage in Berkshire for them. After a while, however they moved closer to London (for Frank's lectures etc.) staying with Winifred in a guest house in Dorking and then later moved back to the house in Cromwell road which had been their home on previous stays in London.|
|Frank began planning his next trip with the possibility of Burma and the Sino-himalaya regions a practical non starter they looked at Papua which was an Australian dependancy but got little comfort from the Astralian government. A chance meeting with a Burmese airman encouraged them to try for Burma after all and, following half a year of diplomacy and fund raising they set sail for Rangoon.|
They were to explore an area known as the triangle between the Nmai Hka and Mali Hka. (The two branches of the Irrawaddy river in the Kachin territory of northern Burma.) Frank had been here before but the travelling was easier now with planes trains and jeeps all aiding fast transit to the collecting grounds.|
The town of Myitkina formerly a sleepy village was now a bustling town "riddled with thieves". They met up with Kachins and Hkanungs (Hka means river, Nung is a tribe of the area) who remembered Frank from as early as 1922 and told Jean how Frank would go where even they feared to venture.
First based at Sumpra bum, they collected herbarium specimens but no seed, as the plants here were not hardy. Frank was joined by two botanists from Burma; no doubt part of a deal allowing him to hunt there. Fortunately he found them enthusiastic pupils. U Tha Hla, aged 35, with 18 years in Burmese forestry, and U Chit Ko Ko aged 26 curator of the herbarium in Rangoon. Their next base was at Hkinlum several days march and in the alpine region where they could expect to find hardy plants.
At Hkinlum Tha Hla became lost whilst over zealously searching for new Rhododendrons. Several people went out in search of him and preparations begun for a full search in the morning. Then he turned up in the camp, late in the night.|
Incredibly Frank was "indignant" and gave his student a lecture in the morning which he received "meekly". Astute readers will recall just how often Frank himself was lost in just the same circumstances! If the student had known more of his teacher's early exploits he might have been indignant himself!
On this trip they shared out the injuries. Jean was spiked in the leg by some bamboo. Tha Hla got a twig in his eye which spared him blindness but gave him severe pain for some days. Chit Ko Ko was chilled so badly he had to be rubbed back to warmth. Frank had a mysterious illness which stopped him eating and made him thinner than normal however he recovered before any medicine could be procured.|
They had problems with huge rats which ate everything even plastic cups and soap. There were also cockroaches which were oversized and overconfident.
|Frank felt very cut off from civilisation (perhaps not for the first time) he complained in his letters that people had written telling him they had gone to a rugby match but not told him the result despite the fact that they had been with him in previous years, and that his own sister wrote about the boat race without even mentioning the result even though he was a Cambridge man who had actually rowed when at colledge.|
The expedition collected 37 species of Rhododendrons and nearly 100 other species and 1400 herbarium specimens. One special find was an epiphytic lilly Lilium arboricola. It must have been good as he devotes two chapters of "return to Irrawaddy" to the search for it.|
He also found Lonicera hildebrandiana a honesuckle with huge flowers.
There was a very fragrant Laurel with straw coloured flowers which was later planted in a garden for the blind.
|On his 68th birthday, Frank climbed to over 11,000 feet on Tagulam bum and had his last ever panoramic view of high mountains including Ka Karpo Razi "Burma's icy mountain". By now his age was catching up on him and he was exhausted after a five hour march, as compared to 1911 when he was "tired after 11 hours marching in the rain" He wrote that he didn't think that he could go on another expedition but that he hadn't told Jean.|
|He did however go on another expedition in 1956. Between trips they holidayed in Ceylon and returned to Britain for lectures etc. They visited Sweden where they were entertained royally, King Gustav VI being a keen horticulturalist, and they received sponsorship from a number of sources for another expedition to Burma.|
A Swedish botanist, Inga, was attached to the party and she was the cause of the major incident of the trip. She started a forest fire with a discarded cigarette, the fire raced up the hillside and the party had to run for their lives. The local villagers managed to head off the flames from their homes but lost much pasture and crop land.|
Frank's party had to compensate them by laying on a feast. Frank wrote; "Feast is hardly the right word as there was nothing to eat but plenty of 'zu', beer brewed from millet or rice, to drink." The cost of the feast a mere £7.00 the result a whole village "oozing bonhomie"
Inga's next distinguishing act was to have relations with one of the burmese forestry men. Frank was furious. It should be remembered before judging him that he was brought up in a world where white women simply did not indulge in men of other races. It had been an unforgivable crime in Victorian and Edwardian times and he was now 70 years old. Remember he had treated the locals on all his travels with considerably more respect and consideration than many of his peers.
They collected around 30 species before Jean fell ill and had to return to Rangoon. Frank carried on for a while without her, while she recovered. |
The expedition was less successful than previous ones, his age and perhaps his previous success being the main obstacles. There are of course still new plants to find but nowhere near as many as when he started in 1911.
|They left Burma for Ceylon and had a quiet time collecting orchids there before returning to Sweden where they were greeted by their enthusiastic botanical friends and even lunched with the King and Queen, who they found "the most charming people you could imagine"|
Back in England again after a breif visit to Norway which Frank found too cold they began to plan a trip, perhaps to Vietnam or New Guinea, or possible retirement in the Seychelles. |
They stayed in their London base in the cromwell road. Jean went off to make a film about sea fishing. Shortly after she returned, while sitting in a pub in Kensington, Frank complained of a tingling in his right foot. He lost all sensation in the foot and he got up; perhaps to try and improve the circulation. He staggered and had to sit down again... He was having a stroke. He was taken to hospital where he went into a coma and was transferred to the Atkinson Morley in Wimbledon where two days later he died, aged 72.
He was buried in the churchyard in the hamlet of Grantchester, near Cambridge.|
I visited there in 2001 for the first time. Planted close to the stone, and almost overgrowing it, is a bush of Berberis calliantha one of Franks own introductions, from the 1924-25 Tsangpo expedition.
My thanks go to garden and lanscape designer Spike Jackson of S.J. Garden designs in Cambridgeshire for the identification.
Close by is the grave of Frank's cousin, Stephen Ranulph Kingdon Glanville the renowned egyptologist.
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