Percy Wyn-Harris

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Sir Percy Wyn-Harris, KCMG, MBE, KStJ (born Percy Wynne Harris on 24 August 1903 in Acton, Middlesex; died 25 February 1979 in Petersfield, Hampshire) was an English mountaineer, political administrator, and yachtsman. He was Governor of the Gambia from 1949 to 1958 and was knighted in 1952.[1]

Early life and mountaineering[edit]

Wyn-Harris was educated at Gresham's School, Holt, and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge,[1] where as an undergraduate he was a member of the University Mountaineering Club.

In 1925, he made the first ascent without guides of the Brouillard Ridge on Mont Blanc. In 1929, while serving with the Colonial Service in Kenya, Wyn-Harris met mountaineer Eric Shipton and together they climbed the twin peaks of Mount Kenya, making the first ascent of Nelion, the secondary summit. A member of Hugh Ruttledge's 1933 Mount Everest expedition, Wyn-Harris reached Edward Norton's record height of 8,573 m (28,126 feet). At around 8,460 m (27,920 ft), he discovered an ice axe, which was almost certainly a remnant of Mallory and Irvine's ill-fated attempt at a first ascent in 1924. Wyn-Harris returned to Everest in 1936, in an expedition again led by Hugh Ruttledge.

Colonial Service[edit]

Wyn-Harris served with the Colonial Service in Africa for over thirty years and was Governor of The Gambia from 1949 to 1958. Subsequently, from October 1960 to June 1961, he served as Administrator of the Northern Cameroons, a region of Nigeria that previously had been a League of Nations mandate but had become a United Nations Trust Territory overseen by the United Kingdom. A United Nations plebiscite on the region's future conducted during his tenure resulted in the region formally becoming part of Nigeria at the end of May 1961.[1]

In 1953, he formally changed his name to Percy Wyn-Harris, from his birth name of Percy Wynne Harris.[1]


Between 1962 and 1969, Wyn-Harris circumnavigated the globe in his sloop Spurwing, a Gunning Grundel.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Kirk-Greene, A. H. M., Harris, Sir Percy Wyn (1903–1979), in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online (subscription required), also published in book form by Oxford University Press, 2004
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Andrew Barkworth Wright
Governor of The Gambia
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Henry Windley