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Charles Granville Bruce

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
SexMale
Full nameCharles Granville•Bruce
Used nameCharles Granville•Bruce
Born7 April 1866 in Kensington, Greater London, England (GBR)
Died12 July 1939 in Kensington, Greater London, England (GBR)
NOC Great Britain

Biography

Brigadier-general Charles Granville Bruce was the leader of the first of three mountaineering expeditions to be awarded an Olympic medal, following his team’s attack on the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest in 1922. With a team of 21, including 11 Sherpas, Bruce’s expedition made three attempts at reach the summit but never made it, and on the third attempt, seven Sherpas sadly lost their lives in an avalanche.

Bruce was the son of the first Lord Aberdare and one-time Member of Parliament and minister in William Gladstone’s first Cabinet. Bruce Jr., or Charlie as he was known to his friends, learned his early climbing skills on the peaks of Snowdonia in Wales. He devoted a lifetime to the Army and mountaineering, and his knowledge of Himalayan peaks was second-to-none, thanks to his role serving with the 1/5th Gurkhas battalion of the Indian Army for 20 years.

During World War I Bruce served with the Gurkhas in Egypt and Gallipoli, where he suffered severe leg injuries and was hospitalised for 10 months. Having been awarded with the Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) in 1903, he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1918. He served with his brigade for the last time in the Afghan War in 1919 before retiring and taking up a post as secretary to the Glamorganshire Territorial Association. In 1921, permission was granted for Bruce to assemble a team for an assault on Everest the following year, and they got to within 1,800 feet (549m) of the summit before abandoning the climb. Bruce celebrated his 56th birthday on Everest during the expedition.

Bruce was leader of a second Everest expedition in 1924, but on his way to base camp suffered an attack of malaria and handed over command to Colonel Edward Norton. Bruce was elected president of the Alpine Club in 1924 and was noted for writing several books about his exploits on the Himalayas, where he was known as “The Great Sahib”.

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1924 Winter Olympics Alpinism GBR Charles Granville Bruce
Alpinism, Open (Olympic) Mixed team 1 Gold

Olympic family relations