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Throwback Thursday

Harry Otter Whyte attended Heriot's between 1914 and 1923. Here's a look at his remarkable career as a Journalist.
4 May 2023
Former Pupil, Harry Otter Whyte, is pictured here with this classmates outside the Chapel.
Former Pupil, Harry Otter Whyte, is pictured here with this classmates outside the Chapel.

Harry attended Heriot’s between 1914 and 1923 (pictured in the back row, wearing a kilt).

His pupil entry records states that he excelled in subjects he was interested in but careless in the rest. From his reports, he excelled in English, History, French, Russian, Economics and Geography. He was not so good (or perhaps interested) in Maths and Latin.

After leaving school he started work for the Edinburgh Evening News.

1931 - Harry joins the British Communist Party and spends years under state surveillance.

1932 - Moves to Moscow and a journalist position at the Moscow Daily News

1934 - Harry writes to Stalin regarding the imprisonment of homosexual men. He wrote “I have a personal stake in this question insofar as I am homosexual myself.”

Stalin notes on the letter “An idiot and a degenerate. Archive.” The letter remained unpublished in the Kremlin archives until 1993.

1936 - Expelled from the All Union Communist Party and returns to London.

1938 - Applies to live in French Morocco and takes a job with Reuters.

1941- Arrested by Spanish authorities and deported. It was alleged he was involved in “the dope trade and white slave trade”. Back in the UK, he is drafted into the Royal Navy as a coder. He spends the rest of WWII on Artic Convoys.

1950 - Harry moves to Turkey and in 1953 ends his contract with Reuters and works instead for the Kemsley papers, the Daily Telegraph, the News Chronicle, The World Veterans Federation and others.

Two Americans spies cite him as having been ‘a protégé of Charles Ashleigh’. The British Press Attaché also files a report for MI6 that says: ‘Whyte has drifted away from the party as a result of some disagreement with Moscow methods, but his heart still seems to be very much in Russia and he has some leanings towards Tito’s brand of Communism. He is said to drink heavily, to be homosexual and not at all an engaging character socially.’

1960 – Harry dies in Istanbul leaving £1.


Source: We should remember the Scot who stood up to Stalin on gay rights | HeraldScotland

Other Credits: Reid, Angus (2020) Parallel Lives (Edinburgh; Summerhall).


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