Generation: C

Alan Hill Whyte

Father: John Whyte, I
Mother: Isabella Black

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[Picture] Banker. Killed at Arras 9Apr1917.

RLM Nov. 1970:

Alan Hill Whyte joined B Company of the 11th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1916 when the Battle of the Somme was drawing to its muddy close and we were settling in for a winter of frost, snow and ice and bitter winds. Sometimes we were in tents, sometimes billets or huts around Albert, where the Virgin on the top of the Cathedral had been knocked sideways by a shell and was poised uneasily, high up, and parallel with the ground below.

Alan would be about 28 then. As a banker he was immediately appointed treasurer of our little company mess. He was fairly tall but not wiry or athletic. His speech was clear but a little slow. He liked to think things out before committing himself to an opinion. A very gentlemanly type, and I never recollect him swearing. There was nothing fastidious about him, and he was a wee bit haphazard about his turn-out. But we all liked him greatly, and gave him the nick-name of "Blanco". Although he was 28 I think he had no great interest in women.

We went about a bit, journeys into Amiens for a meal, or to St. Pol. Once we had three days leave to Paris, where we visited the popular restaurants, the Follies Bergers, The Opera and the general sight-seeing places. Our abode was the Continental Hotel. I had never lived in such luxury before. We both knew we might never enjoy it again.

Throughout the winter we trained for the forthcoming offensive, all in good comradeship in the company, but little comprehending how our future might differ from that pointed out to us by the General Staff.

I well remember a night, perhaps two nights for I am not sure now, when our battalion Headquarters was in an Hotel in Arras only a mile from the from line and a day or two before our great offensive. We were served by waiters in tails. What that meant in terms of espionage one can guess!

Our battalions first objective was to take the Railway Triangle just east of the town of Arras. Where we were, the two front lines almost touched, being only twenty yards apart. I remember well climbing into a brick chimney and literally looking down into the opposite Boche trench.

The night before the battle I was told to remain at the transport lines as a reserve or assistant adjutant. On the 9th April, around dawn, our troops advanced, and faced by terrific machine gun fire, Alan was killed not long after leading his platoon into action. A few days later I attended his funeral at a mass burial in a side street at Blangy. I wept.

I am very glad that our first-born son is named Alan, in memory of my friend Alan Hill Whyte.

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