Colonel Eugene St. John Birnie
“Bill” Birnie was transport officer of the 1933 expedition, having helped Smythe to his 1931 ascent of Kamet. In the annals of Everest he is largely remembered for a vehement disagreement with Wyn-Harris, which cost two days in establishing Camp V at 25,500 feet (7770 m) and, possibly, the success of the expedition.
Birnie was a career soldier who fought in the Third Afghan War (1919) and served in India, the Middle East, and Italy. He was a fluent speaker of Hindi and a good polo player. After World War II he served as military secretary to the Governor-General of Pakistan (1947–48) and as secretary to the Church of England Children’s Society (1949–65).