Lieut.-Colonel Allen WHITTY, D.S.O.

Commanded the 3rd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment from

Allen Whitty was born at Martley-Hillside, Worcestershire, on 5th May 1867, and enlisted in the County Regiment at Norton Barracks on 16th April 1884.

His sojourn at the Depot was brief as he was drafted to the 2nd Battalion then stationed at Jersey, on 10th May.

Allen Whitty’s first eight months in Jersey were spent in recruit’s drill and musketry, and he was fortunate enough to earn regard as a “clean soldier.” Smartness in turn-out then, as it is now, was a very important asset in a recruit or young soldier who desired to catch the eye of his Company Commander or that of the Adjutant, and it was for this attribute that young Whitty, in May 1885, was entrusted with the stripe of a Lance-Corporal. He remembers quite well the Adjutant, Captain Martin Doherty Holwell (himself from the ranks) telling him so.

Educational attainments among soldiers in those days must have been of a low standard, as it was only after some months’ attendance at the Regimental School and with considerable mental effort that many men were able to obtain a 4th Class Certificate, which was approximately equivalent to Standard Three in an Elementary School. Whitty managed a “Third” fairly early on in his first year of service, and thus qualified himself for promotion to Corporal, to which rank he was advanced in February, 1886.

In September 1887, having volunteered for service in India, Whitty embarked with a draft at Pembroke Dock to join the 1st Battalion at Quetta.

Lieut.-Colonel A. Whitty

In less than six months after his arrival at Quetta, Whitty was promoted to Lance Sergeant and sent to the School of Musketry at Changla Gali, in the Murree Hills, whence he returned to the Battalion with a very good certificate, and then, after being promoted to full Sergeant, and in less than a month of qualifying at the Musketry School, he was started off again for another course of instruction. This time it was to the Army Signalling School at Kasauli, where he was awarded the highest certificate attainable.

Allen Whitty as QMS (1890)

Qualified as an Instructor in two subjects, Whitty favoured that of Musketry, and hoped he might be fortunate enough to be selected for that work; but at the moment the Battalion was badly off for signallers, and he became, under Lieutenant J. B. Swanson, Sergeant Instructor in Signalling to the Battalion. The combination of Lieut. Swanson and Whitty was apparently a good one, as the signallers advanced rapidly in proficiency, and during the ensuing three years the Battalion occupied a very high place among units in the Annual Signalling Returns and Reports.

After these three years of signalling work, and on change of station of the Battalion from Quetta to Poona, Whitty was permitted to take up musketry work as Sergeant-Instructor, but the appointment was terminated six months later on his promotion to Colour-Sergeant in August 1890, at the early age of 23. This was very rapid promotion, due entirely (so he was assured by Colonel Carrington, the Commanding Officer, who thought Whitty much too young for such a position), to the special recommendation of Captain (later Brigadier General) E. A. D.’A. Thomas, the Adjutant.

Subsequent service in Kamptee and Rangoon brought the Battalion to Aden, where Whitty was promoted to Regimental Sergeant-Major in July 1896, and three years later, while the Battalion was quartered at Crownhill, Plymouth, he was recommended for a Commission as Quartermaster by Colonel W. Senhouse Clarke, then Commanding the Battalion. But it was not until 17th March 1900, during the South African War, that he received this commission, which was into the newly-formed 3rd Battalion of the Regiment.

The 3rd and 4th (Regular) Battalions were formed in February 1900, with a nucleus of a few selected Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, to whom were added soldiers of those Battalions who were temporarily unfit for active service, and others who were under campaign age. It was with such personnel, together with recruits who were posted to the Battalions as fast as they could be enlisted, that Lieutenant-Colonels M. V. Hilton (3rd) and A. G. Chesney (4th) were allotted the task of creating efficient battalions, and in a few months both Battalions were holding their own with the best.

These two new Battalions, with 14 new Battalions of other Regiments, formed at the same time and with similar material, were, while in process of formation, sometimes facetiously referred to as ‘England’s last hope,” indicative of the fact that the despatch of the 8th Division to the seat of war in South Africa had actually stripped England of all Infantry Battalions of older formation; and also because the existence of these new Battalions permitted the then Secretary of State for War, in reply to a Parliamentary question, to say that, in addition to other units, he still had 16 Infantry Battalions available in England. Both question and answer were probably arranged for foreign consumption as the country’s relations with both France and Germany were none too cordial at that time.

It was the work of assisting in the formation of a new Unit under Lieutenant-Colonel M. V. Hilton and Major E. A. D.’A. Thomas (2nd in Command), with Captain J. M. Reddie as Adjutant, that afforded Whitty a very valuable lesson in organisation which was of inestimable value to him in succeeding years.

Whitty’s commissioned service prior to the outbreak of the Great War was solely with the 3rd Battalion in its various stations—Aldershot, Tipperary, back to Aldershot, South Africa, Dover, and Tidworth. During the six years which covered the last two stations training was both strenuous and exciting, carried out doubtless with the premonition that war on the continent of Europe, in which England would be forced to take part, was bound to come.

3rd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment
winners of the Bowyers Match at Aldershot Command Rifle Meeting 1907
Standing L to R: Lieut. A. Whitty, L/Cpl. Palmer, Cpl. Hart, Cpl. Jewsbury
Seated L to R: Sgt. Partridge, QMS Stone, Sgt. Payton, Sgt. Bills

It may be said with all truth that when the 3rd Battalion crossed the Channel for France in August 1914, there could not have been a better trained unit in the whole Army and Lieutenant-Colonel (now Brigadier General) B. F. B. Stuart had every reason to be proud of his command.

3rd Battalion Worcestershire Officers of H.Q. (June 1915)
Lieut. D. Willis (R.A.M.C.), Major A. Whitty (Quartermaster), Lieut.-Col. B. F. B. Stuart, Capt. S. A. Gabb (Adj)

With the 3rd he took part in the advance to Ciply three miles south of Mons, and it was just north of the village that the Battalion received its baptism of fire. At Caudry, two days afterwards, and during the retreat from Mons, all Quartermasters of the 7th Brigade, except the Senior, and all dismounted personnel of the Regimental Transport of the Brigade, were sent forward to assist in the battle north of the town. Whitty, being the senior Quartermaster, was placed in charge of the 1st Line Transport of the Brigade, and was ordered by the Brigadier to get it clear and South of the town. It was said that a French Division was to pass through Caudry to re-enforce the British, but that proved to be only a rumour. Later in the day he was ordered to continue the retirement and independent of the units to which the transport belonged. It was a movement of some difficulty, as the troops who had been in action in the line between Caudry and Le Cateau had commenced their retirement, and for a time the roads over which the transport had to pass were chock-a-block with men, pack animals, guns, ambulances, and other vehicles, all seemingly inextricably intermixed; but by good luck he managed to keep his transport column intact, and after two days and nights of almost continuous marching he was able, at Noyon, to return the transport to the units to which it belonged.

He continued to serve with the 3rd Battalion until October 1915, when he was ordered home to take up an appointment at the newly established Machine Gun Training Centre at Grantham, but through illness he was unable to take up the work.

Three months later found him again in France, where he joined the 2nd Battalion, but after a month with that Battalion an opportunity occurred for his re-transfer to his old Battalion, the 3rd, where he remained until March 1918, when he was selected for a Staff Appointment as Camp Commandant at Headquarters 10th Army Corps, and graded as Deputy Assistant Adjutant General. Eventually he proceeded with the 10th Corps to Germany, where it took up its headquarters at Bonn, and he remained with that Corps until its disbandment in January 1920, when he rejoined the Regiment and was posted to the 4th Battalion, just about to proceed to the Rhine as part of the Army of Occupation. After 13 months in Cologne with the 4th he was transferred to the Recruiting Service at Worcester.

For his services during the Great War, Colonel Whitty was admitted to the Companionship of the Distinguished Service Order; was promoted to the ranks of Major and Lieutenant Colonel for distinguished service in the Field, and on three other occasions he was mentioned in the despatches of the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief.

He was Recruiting Officer of the 29th Recruiting Area from May 1921, till April 1928, when he was selected for appointment as Chief Recruiting Officer of the South Midland Recruiting Zone (additional to his Worcestershire Recruiting work), a position held by him until 4th May 1932, when, at the age of 65, and having completed a total service of 48 years, he finally retired from the Army.


Lieut.-Col. A. Whitty (1932)


Colonel Whitty has a distinguished record for Rifle Shooting, and it will probably be on this account that he will be best remembered both in the Regiment and in the Army in general.

Major A. Whitty (1916)

In his recruits’ course of musketry in Jersey in 1884 he showed promise of possessing the qualities of a good shot, and this promise was confirmed in his first Trained Soldiers’ course, in which he qualified as “Marksman,” but it was not until after his transfer to the 1st Battalion in 1887 that he was regarded as anything but an average good shot of a company.

About that time the 1st Battalion offered many opportunities for its men to improve their shooting, the most notable of which was a rule inaugurated by Captain D’Arcy Thomas, the Adjutant, that in certain seasons of the year and on certain days of the week, any man who chose to attend the rifle range and shoot 10 rounds there at his own expense would be excused the evening Adjutant’s parade. Whitty took full advantage of this concession, but while, by dint of regular and frequent range practices, his shooting advanced to a much higher standard, his weekly payments became much reduced on account of the stoppages made to meet his bill for ammunition.

His first big Rifle Meeting was that of the Bengal Presidency Rifle Association at Meerut in 1889, to attend which Whitty and two other N.C.O.’s had to travel some 1800 miles, from Quetta to Meerut and back. They had to pay their own railway fares and their entrance fees as well, as there was no assistance from the Battalion Rifle Club in those days; but all three had shot very well at the Quetta District Rifle Meeting and were full of hope. The venture was not a financial success, indeed, neither of the three hopeful marksmen succeeded in winning a prize of any description, but it was a very valuable lesson to them. The failure was attributed to the vast difference in the atmospheric and visibility conditions of Meerut, as compared with those at Quetta. In the rarified air of the highly elevated plateau of Quetta, visibility and shooting light was astonishingly good, and the change from such ideal shooting conditions to the murky light and troublesome mirage of the plains at Meerut was too much of a problem for Whitty and his two companions. It is recalled that General Sir Frederick (afterwards Field Marshal and Lord) Roberts, V.C., then Commander-in-Chief in India, visited the ranges during the meeting and, with his truly wonderful memory for faces or badges (he had recently inspected the Battalion at Quetta), observing our party of three wearing the “Star,” stopped and said, “Hello, 29th, you’ve come a long way to shoot,” and after chatting for a few moments with the N.C.O.’s passed on with the parting injunction, “Well, good luck to you; you will have to shoot well to win prizes here.” Subsequent events proved that the Commander-in-Chief’s words were only too true.

One result of this failure was that Whitty and his companions found themselves stranded in Lahore on Christmas morning wholly devoid of funds, and were only able to complete the three day return journey to Quetta by borrowing money from a friendly Sergeant of another Corps.

Whitty’s next big prize meeting was that of the Bombay Presidency Rifle Association at Poona, to which station the 1st Battalion had moved in 1890. At this meeting he was highly successful, as he won the Championship and Gold Medal of the Bombay Army. He repeated this success in 1892, and also won the Silver Medal of the National Rifle Association of England, which was shot for at the Poona Meeting.

Meanwhile the disastrous Meerut venture of 1889 had continued to rankle, and in 1893 another opportunity of attending the Bengal meeting presented itself (this time from Kamptee), which was gladly accepted. There was no failure on this occasion, as Whitty returned to his Battalion with the Championship Medal of the Bengal Presidency Rifle Association, and also with the Medal of the Southern India Rifle Association for the best long range aggregate.

From then onwards Whitty was always sure of a place in the Regimental Team, and was, by general consent, regarded as its Captain.

The 1st Battalion arrived at Tregantle from India in 1896, and the following year found Whitty at Bisley for the first time, where he met with immediate and marked success; and with the exception of the years of the Great War and one year when he was in South Africa with the 3rd Battalion he has attended Bisley regularly ever since, and has rarely failed in keeping his end up there for the Regiment.

Since 1897 he has had many individual shooting successes, including the Championships of the Western District, the Aldershot, Irish, and Southern Commands, but (except his captaincy of the teams of the 3rd Battalion which won the Queen Victoria Cup on five occasions) it is his very long connection with Army Teams at Bisley, both rifle and revolver, that he looks back on with most pride. His “Army VIII” jewel, awarded to those who have shot in the “VIII,” bears no less than 23 bars, indicating that he has been a member of the Army Team at Bisley on 23 occasions. He was elected by the Committee of the Army Rifle Association as Captain of the Army VIII in 1924 to 1928, since when he has been Coach to the VIII.

Prior to the Great War no regular soldier could shoot for the King’s Prize at Bisley, as it was reserved entirely to Volunteers and Territorials. After the War it was felt that such a restriction would be invidious, and the prize was therefore thrown open to anyone who had served or was serving in any branch of His Majesty’s Forces. Since he has been eligible to shoot for the King’s Prize, Colonel Whitty has won a place in the final 100 on four occasions. In 1924 he finished 10th in the final, and in 1931, in his 65th year, he succeeded in winning a place in the final 100 of both the St. George’s and in the King’s. He had never before managed the double event.

Lieut.-Col. A. Whitty
(Bisley, 1933)

He has shot in international matches for England at Bisley on several occasions, and he was a member of a team of four, which represented Great Britain at the V111th Olympiad, held in Paris in 1924, in a Sporting Rifle competition. The rifle used was a Holland .240 fired at a Running Deer target. The British Team won, and Whitty was the second highest scorer amongst all the competitors who comprised the seven international teams.

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Silver tray (signed by fellow officers) presented to Colonel Whitty in 1933

At the time of his retirement, Colonel Whitty held the following appointments:-
Member of the General Committee and a member of the Advisory
Committee of the Army Rifle Association.
Member 0f the Council and Member of the Executive Committee of the Territorial Army Rifle Association.
Member of the Bisley Committee of the National Rifle Association. Member of the Territorial Army Association, County of Worcester. Honorary Secretary of the Worcestershire County Rifle Association.
Honorary Secretary of the National Association for the Employment of Ex-Regular Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen.
Member of the Committee of the Worcestershire Regiment Old Comrades’ Association.
The duties involved in these appointments, together with his late official Recruiting duties, indicate the range of his activities and show, at all events, that he kept himself fairly busy.