Michael Spender

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Michael Spender
Born Michael Alfred Spender
(1906-11-11)11 November 1906
Kensington, London, England
Died 5 May 1945(1945-05-05) (aged 38)
Germany
Nationality United Kingdom
Known for Explorer and surveyor

Michael Alfred Spender (1906–1945) was an English explorer, surveyor, a leader in photo-interpretation in the Second World War and an RAF squadron leader.

He was the eldest son of Harold Spender and Violet, and a brother of the poet Stephen Spender and the artist Humphrey Spender.[1][2]

He graduated from Balliol College, Oxford University, with a double first in Engineering, and then worked as a surveyor on the Great Barrier Reef from 1928 to 1929 and in East Greenland in 1932 and 1933. In 1935 he joined an expedition to the Himalayas and mapped 26 peaks over 26,000 feet.[2]

In 1933 he married Erika Haarmann, and their son John-Christopher was born in 1936.[3] In the late 1930s the artist Nancy Sharp, the wife of William Coldstream and the lover of Louis MacNeice, fell in love with Spender. Michael and Nancy divorced their respective spouses, and in 1943 they married. Their son Philip was born the same year.[4][5]

Spender was regarded as arrogant and tactless,[2] and he had a difficult relationship with his brother, Stephen. On 3 May 1945 Michael was a passenger in an Avro Anson, and he was seriously injured when it crashed near Süchteln in Germany; he died on 5 May. Stephen was deeply affected, and he wrote the elegy Seascape for his brother.[1]

He was buried at Eindhoven General Cemetery at Woensel in the Netherlands.[6]

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