Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Ghost of Kitty Whyte

Brighton Beach
The Ghost of Kitty Whyte

“Perfect service rendered, duties done
In charity, soft speech & stainless days:
These riches shall not fade away in life
Nor any death dispraise”
(From The Light of Asia by Sir E.Arnold)

In March 1926 Adelaide suffered its first shark attack fatality at Brighton Beach when a young lady, Kitty Whyte, went swimming of the pier and was attacked by a Great White shark.
Kathleen Whyte (nee Macully) was the daughter of an Anglican Priest in the local Brighton area, she was holidaying in Brighton with her two young children, awaiting her husband to join them from Port Augusta.
Kitty, as she preferred to be called, was an energetic worker for the Glenelg and Brighton branch of the District Trained Nursing Society, and also taught young children swimming.
On the day of her death she had just finished teaching her young swimming class, and had her two children with her, when she decided to enter the water again, within minutes.
Memorial to Mrs Whyte
Mr Harry Southcott, whom happened to be seated upon the Jetty, heard loud screams and went to see what was wrong, He witnessed Kitty struggling in the water. Soon the whole ocean around her
turned red with her blood. Mr Southcott and another local Mr Trott, jumped into a dinghy which happened to be sitting next to the jetty, and made their way, 100 feet out into the water where Kitty was frantically struggling.
The two men dragged her into the boat, where she gave them a look of recognition, and became unconscious. The two men got her to the shore, where a Doctor was called for.
Kitty Whyte died on her way to the hospital from massive trauma and blood loss.
Barrier Miner
, Friday 19 March 1926, page 4

Dr Yeatman who examined Kitty's body, found that no-one could of helped Mrs Whyte stay alive, the shark had first grabbed her by the left ankle, then when she struggled, had snapped at her body, a wound made it's way from her thigh to her buttock, tearing the flesh from her bone and severing the femoral artery and muscles.

Brighton beach has remained a relatively safe beach since the death of Kitty Whyte in 1926, with few deaths recorded on its shores since then, so who is the young woman seen running along the shore, or at times, along the pier, who simply vanishes from sight before hitting the water?

After her death in 1926, a drinking fountain near the jetty entrance was erected in Kitty's memory.

© 2013 Allen Tiller

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