‘A perfect gentleman’

One of the original members of the 1st Parachute Regiment, Major Miles Whitelock, has died peacefully at his home in Cliff Terrace, aged 93.

Miles Edmond Whitelock was born in Whitchurch-on-Thames in Oxfordshire in July, 1918.

He was the only son of a London solicitor and his wife, and he excelled at cricket and tennis and, at age seven, was taught to chip a golf ball.

He went to school at Rugby and, in 1937, went to Trinity College, Cambridge, to read modern languages.

There, he joined the Artists’ Rifles, a London City branch of the Territorial Army and, on September 2, 1939, was ordered to mobilise for war.


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He was posted to the 1st Parachute Battalion, which had just been created – with his death there is only one survivor left of the original regiment.

Britain feared in the early years of the war that German paratroopers would drop from the sky and Miles and his colleagues were on hand to show their fellow countrymen what to expect.

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But, as the fear of an invasion waned, the newly promoted Captain Whitelock was posted to North Africa in 1942.

Two months after he had been dropped in - and after a period of hard fighting - he was badly wounded in a night attack on a German encampment.

He suffered injuries to his knee, thigh, nose and head and spent the winter of 1942/1943 in hospital in Algiers and, eventually, returned home on a hospital ship.

That autumn he chose to spend his time convalescing at East Devon Golf Club.

His parents had brought him to Budleigh Salterton for a holiday 10 years previously and he drove to Budleigh Salterton from London in his Morris 8 with a friend and stayed at the Blueberry Downs Hotel.

He was promoted to major and sent off to serve the Governor of Bermuda. It was here that he met his wife, Kyla, the governor’s personal secretary.

They settled in Birmingham, had two sons, Hugh and Roger, and he managed a silverware manufacturing business.

In 1961, he joined Edgbaston Golf Club and became chairman.

But his devotion to golf was reinforced by a tragic accident.

His second son, Roger, was killed on a golf course in South Africa at the age of 24 when he was struck by lightning.

His son’s death also prompted him to consider retirement and, in the mid-1970s, he and Kyla settled in Budleigh Salterton.

It took him four years to be admitted to East Devon Golf Club and succeeded Geoffrey Moxon as Captain of the Veterans’ Section in 1990. Kyla died in 2004.

A friend, Doctor David Evans, said: “He was a very gentle person. He was one who commanded immediate respect.

“He was one of Budleigh’s perfect gentlemen.

“Thanks to Betty Harrison, his carer, he was able to live and die peacefully at his home.”

His son, Hugh, said: “He was a true English gentleman. He would talk to anyone and enjoyed everybody’s company.”

Another friend, Sue Lawley, said: “He became one of our closest friends throughout the 17 years we lived in Budleigh Salterton.

“He was everything that a good friend should be; civilised, hospitable and, above all, jolly good fun.

“He was also someone who had a lust for living, an endless curiosity and sense of adventure.

“We miss him sorely.”

A service of remembrance will take place at St Peter’s Church on Monday, January 9, at noon.

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