News People Faces of Gallipoli: Thomas Anderson ‘Snow’ Whyte
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Faces of Gallipoli: Thomas Anderson ‘Snow’ Whyte

Thomas Anderson Whyte
Australian War Memorial
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Whyte was proficient at many sports, but rowing was his main game.

A member of the Adelaide Rowing Club, he represented his state in events all over the country.

• Faces of Gallipoli: The mates who made history

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When war was declared, Whyte enlisted and was shipped off to Egypt for further training, in what must have been a difficult decision given his fresh engagement to Eileen Champion.

He wrote to her relentlessly during his journey and training spells, and the letters reveal Whyte to be a sensitive and articulate person, well aware of the dangers he was heading into.

On board a ship to Gallipoli, the night before he disembarked, Whyte wrote a letter to Champion to be sent in the case of his death.

He asked her to think of him as “non-existent in spirit, blotted out completely”, were he to be killed, in the hope that it would allow her to move on.

“It would soften the last thoughts if I knew you would be really happy again,” he wrote.

Australian War Memorial
Thomas Whyte’s fiancee, Eileen Champion. Photo: Australian War Memorial

One of his fellow scouts, Arthur Blackburn, gave an account of what happened the next morning in a letter published in the Adelaide Register in August of that year.

According to Blackburn, Whyte volunteered to row his fellow soldiers ashore, a position that was the most dangerous, as those rowing “of course could take no shelter”.

He said that Whyte betrayed no hint of the fears he held for his own personal safety, joking around as he rowed towards the cove.

As the boat touched the shore, Whyte was struck in the abdomen by enemy fire.

Evacuated to a hospital ship, Whyte died from his wounds that evening and was buried at sea, aged 29.

“The poor fellow was killed before he had fired a single shot,” wrote Blackburn, “but there is no doubt that it was largely due to the courage and endurance of Tom and his fellow rowers in all the boats that everyone was landed with the minimum of loss”.

As requested, Whyte’s letter made it to Champion, who treasured it for the rest of her life.

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