Lost Expedition: The Search for Roger Carlyle
The Carlyle Expedition of 1919
Photo of the Carlyle Expedition Principal Members
The Carlyle Expedition sailed from New York in 1919, led by Roger Carlyle (age 24), a millionaire playboy who inexplicably turned from the life of a wastrel to finance and head an archaeological expedition to Egypt. The principal members of the expedition were Sir Aubrey Penhew (age 54), titled, wealthy, and a noted Egyptologist; Hypatia Masters (age 27), a beautiful society girl and an accomplished photographer and linguist; Jack Brady (age 36), mercenary soldier, weapons expert, and Carlyle’s confidant and bodyguard; and Doctor Robert Houston (age 52), fashionable psychoanalyst and interpreter of dreams.
The members sailed from New York to London, to meet with Sir Aubrey Penhew. After a few weeks they departed for Egypt. Using Cairo as a base, the expedition performed several short desert excavations. An important find was rumored, but the expedition refused comment to reporters. The principal members departed for Mombasa, Kenya, and quickly went inland to Nairobi.
In Nairobi, at the beginning of August, the expedition hired twenty bearers and headed into the wilderness. They were seen often at first. The last letters from them arrived in early September, and then they vanished.
In March of 1920 a Kikuyu tribesman told authorities in Nairobi of a party of whites near the Mountain of the Black Wind, a local name for one of the high Kenyan peaks. Later rumors intimated that the party had been destroyed by inhuman forces. A search party, hired by Carlyle’s sister Erica Carlyle, found the remains of the expedition after ten weeks of effort.
The corpses of the bearers were remarkably preserved and appeared to have been pulled apart by animals, though a coroner’s report never mentions tooth marks on the bones — they had been horribly killed and torn to shreds. The encampment was totally destroyed, in no little part by the seasonal rains and undergrowth in the months since the disaster.
No sign was found of the whites who had led the expedition, a fact easily established by the absence of dental work among the corpses. Despite reports to the contrary the bodies were strewn about in the open, and no effort to conceal them had been made.
Blame was quickly pinned on Nandi tribesmen. Some mention was made of a pagan cult (the Bloody Tongue) powerful in the area but authorities scoffed at the idea and did not use it in the subsequent trial.
Random tribesmen were hung, the expedition members were declared dead, and the incident was forgotten, like any crime.
The newspapers carried much of the story. The relevant clippings can be found in The Carlyle Expedition Massacre page in the adventure log.
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