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Biographical entry Whyte, Angus Hedley (1897 - 1971)

DSO, TD; MRCS 1919; FRCS 1924; FRCS Ed 1924; MB BS Durham 1919; MS 1925; LRCP 1919.

23 May 1897
South Sheilds
12 August 1971
General surgeon


Angus Hedley Whyte was born in South Shields on 23 May 1897. His father, Dr John Whyte JP, was a well-known general practitioner in the town and also a distinguished Gaelic scholar. His mother, Helen Hedley, was the daughter of a farmer at Kielder in North Northumberland. Angus was an only son. He was educated at Ackworth School and at the University of Durham College of Medicine. He graduated in 1919 and was the first Philipson Prize winner as the best candidate of the year. In 1924 he obtained the Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of Edinburgh and England.

In 1926 he was appointed honorary assistant surgeon to the Newcastle Infirmary, being then only 29 years old. In 1938 he was appointed honorary surgeon to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, a position which he held until his retirement in 1962. In addition to his Infirmary appointments, he was honorary surgeon to the Fleming Memorial Hospital for Sick Children from 1923 to 1940, visiting surgeon to the Holmside and Southmoor Hospital from 1926 to 1947, and consultant surgeon to the Tynemouth Victoria Jubilee Infirmary for about twenty years. He was associated for many years with Rutherford Morison, 'Tubby' Martin, and Frederick Pybus, and these three men probably had the greatest influence on his career.

Always keenly interested in the Territorial Army, in 1937 he was chosen to command the 149 (N) Field Ambulance, and this unit he took to France with the BEF. In 1940 he took charge of the surgical division, 8th General Hospital, and in June of the same year he was awarded the DSO for 'distinguished leadership and gallantry in face of the enemy at Rennes and St Nazaire'. He was also mentioned in dispatches. In 1941 he became officer commanding a general hospital; in 1942 consultant surgeon to Northern Command with the rank of Brigadier; and in 1947 he was made honorary Colonel, 50 Division Medical Unit.

Before the war he devoted a great deal of his time to the affairs of the British Medical Association. From 1930 to 1939 he was honorary secretary of the North of England Branch and from 1936 to 1940 a member of Council. He was also Chairman of the Consultants Committee for England and Wales from 1937 to 1940, a member of the Central Medical War Committee from 1938 to 1940, President of the North of England Branch in 1948, and Chairman of the Newcastle Division in 1952. He was secretary of the North of England Medical Society from 1924 to 1927 and President in 1950.

For a very long time he also gave devoted service to the Royal College of Surgeons of England. From 1942 to 1948 he was a member of the Court of Examiners and from 1950 to 1958 a member of the Council. He was also successively chairman of the nomination committee, of the Jacksonian Prize Committee, and of the Conjoint Board of Management of the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Surgeons. In 1947, on behalf of the Royal Colleges, he was 'visitor' to the University of Khartoum, and in 1949 to Baghdad. From 1953 to 1958 he was a member of the editorial board of the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and had been a member of the editorial board of the British journal of surgery. He was a member of the Council of the Medical Defence Union for many years.

In 1930 he married Nancy Nettleton and she survived him. They had two sons and one daughter. One of his sons, John, became Professor of Anaesthesia at Harvard University Medical School.

He died on the 12 August 1971, the cause of death being an abdominal neoplasm.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1971, 3, 483; Lancet 1971, 2, 498].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England