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WILLIAM HUTCHINSON MURRAY

1913 - 1996

Writing as: W. H. Murray


According to Wikipedia: "William Hutchison Murray (18 March 1913 – 19 March 1996) was a Scottish mountaineer and writer, one of a group of active mountain climbers, mainly from Clydeside, before and just after World War II.

Murray was born in Liverpool, the son of William Hutchison Murray (1878-1915), of Cairndhu, Queens Drive, Mossley Hill, H.M. Inspector of Mines for Liverpool and North Wales, who was killed at Gallipoli whilst serving as a sapper with the Royal Marines, and his wife Helen (née Robertson). He was subsequently raised at Huntly Terrace, North Kelvinside, Glasgow. His paternal grandparents, William Hutchison Murray (b. 1850; a wool manufacturer who, on losing all the money he had invested in the 1878 collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank, became a respected music teacher at Anderson College, Glasgow, later becoming Music Inspector for the Glasgow Board of Education, and conductor of the Glasgow Choral Society) and Margaret Hesketh (née Jenkins), lived at Giffnock, East Renfrewshire.

Murray did much of his most influential climbing in the period just before World War II. He climbed on many occasions with the slightly older J. H. B. Bell.

At the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and was posted to the Middle East and North Africa. He was captured south of Mersa Matruh during the Western Desert Campaign in a retreat to El Alamein in June 1942 by a tank commander from the 15th Panzer Division who was armed with a machine-pistol. A passage in Mountain magazine (#67, 1979) describes the moments after his capture:

To my astonishment, he [the German tank commander] forced a wry smile and asked in English, 'Aren't you feeling the cold?' ... I replied 'cold as a mountain top'. He looked at me, and his eyes brightened. 'Do you mean – you climb mountains?' He was a mountaineer. We both relaxed. He stuffed his gun away. After a few quick words – the Alps, Scotland, rock and ice – he could not do enough for me.

He then spent three years in Prisoner of War camps in Italy (Chieti), Germany (Moosberg, Brunswick) and Czechoslovakia (Marisch Trubeau Oflag VIII-F). While imprisoned, Murray wrote a book entitled Mountaineering in Scotland. The first draft of the work was written on the only paper available to him – rough toilet paper. The manuscript was found and destroyed by the Gestapo. To the incredulity of his fellow prisoners, Murray's response to the loss was to start again, despite the risk of its loss and that his physical condition was so poor from the near starvation diet that he believed he would never climb again. The rewritten work was finally published in 1947 and was followed by the sequel, Undiscovered Scotland, in 1951. Both concentrate on Scottish winter climbing and were widely credited with helping to inspire the post-war renaissance in the sport. Though written in an evocative, rather pantheistic, style, somewhat too romantic for modern tastes, they are of significant literary value."



Series Books
 
John Taunt Appointment In Tibet (1959)
  The Spurs Of Troodos (1960)
 
Other Mountaineering in Scotland [NF] (1947)
  Rock Climbs:Glencoe and Ardgour [NF] (1949)
  Undiscovered Scotland: Climbs on Rock, Snow, and Ice [NF] (1951)
  The Scottish Himalayan Expedition [NF] (1951)
  Story of Everest [NF] (1953)
  Maelstrom (1962)
  Highland Landscape: A Survey [NF] (1962)
  Glencoe, Blackmount and Lochaber: a regional guide [NF] (1964)
  The Craft of Climbing [NF] (1964)
  Dark Rose the Phoenix (1965)
  Hebrides [NF] (1966)
  Companion Guide to the Western Highlands of Scotland [NF] (1968)
  The Real Mackay (1969)
  The Islands of Western Scotland [NF] (1973)
  Beautiful Scotland [NF] (1976)
  The Scottish Highlands [NF] (1976)
  The Curling Companion [NF] (1981)
  Rob Roy MacGregor – His Life and Times [NF] (1982)
  Scotland's Mountains [NF] (1987)
  The Evidence of Things Not Seen: A Mountaineer's Tale [NF] (1987)