Tibet Frontier Commission

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Francis Younghusband FrancisYounghusband.jpg
Francis Younghusband

The Tibet Frontier Commission headed the British expedition to Tibet in 190304. The Commission comprised seven diplomats and army officers, led by Colonel Francis Younghusband. Despatched on the orders of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, the Commission was intended to establish diplomatic relations with the government of Tibet and, in particular, to resolve the dispute over the border between Tibet and Sikkim. The Commission was escorted by a large military force led by Brigadier-General J. R. L. Macdonald. However, the expedition was met with hostility by a Tibetan government uninterested in negotiation, and conflicts erupted, in one instance resulting in the massacre of hundreds of poorly armed and poorly trained Tibetan soldiers, which were no match for a professional army equipped with Maxim machine guns.

British expedition to Tibet

The British expedition to Tibet, also known as the British invasion of Tibet or the Younghusband expedition to Tibet began in December 1903 and lasted until September 1904. The expedition was effectively a temporary invasion by British Indian forces under the auspices of the Tibet Frontier Commission, whose purported mission was to establish diplomatic relations and resolve the dispute over the border between Tibet and Sikkim. In the nineteenth century, the British conquered Burma and Sikkim, occupying the whole southern flank of Tibet. The Tibetan Ganden Phodrang regime, which was then under administrative rule of the Qing dynasty, remained the only Himalayan state free of British influence.

Francis Younghusband British army explorer

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Francis Edward Younghusband, was a British Army officer, explorer, and spiritual writer. He is remembered for his travels in the Far East and Central Asia; especially the 1904 British expedition to Tibet, led by him, and for his writings on Asia and foreign policy. Younghusband held positions including British commissioner to Tibet and President of the Royal Geographical Society.

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Captain Herbert James Walton served as Medical Officer and Naturalist to the Commission, and was able to make a comprehensive study of the flora and fauna of the southern and central areas of Tibet during the expedition's slow progress to the capital, Lhasa. [1]

Herbert Walton was an English surgeon and naturalist. Born in London on 19 January 1869, he was the second child and elder son of James Sydney Walton and Eleanor Georgina Louissan, his wife. Walton was initially educated in Paris, before entering private schools in England, culminating in Charterhouse (1881–84); he went on to study medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital.

Lhasa District in Tibet, China

Lhasa or Chengguan is a district and administrative capital of Lhasa City in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The inner urban area of Lhasa City is equivalent to the administrative borders of Chengguan District, which is part of the wider prefectural Lhasa City.


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Sikkim State in North-east India

Sikkim is a state in northeastern India. It borders Tibet in the north and northeast, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west, and West Bengal in the south. Sikkim is also located close to India's Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh. Sikkim is the least populous and second smallest among the Indian states. A part of the Eastern Himalaya, Sikkim is notable for its biodiversity, including alpine and subtropical climates, as well as being a host to Kangchenjunga, the highest peak in India and third highest on Earth. Sikkim's capital and largest city is Gangtok. Almost 35% of the state is covered by the Khangchendzonga National Park.

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  1. Landon, P. (1905). The Opening of Tibet. Doubleday, Page & Co., New York.