Serjeant 31475 George White

Killed in Action on Friday, 12th April 1918, age 34.
Commemorated on Panel 5 and 6 of Ploegsteert Memorial, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium.

11th Bn., East Lancashire Regiment. 92nd Brigade of 31st Division.
Formerly 7452 Cheshire Regiment.

Husband of Elizabella White, of The Sun Inn, Chirbury, Salop.
Born: Deptford, Kent, Enlisted: Woolwich, Kent, Resident: Whitchurch, Salop.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/867180/

Genealogical Data

1911 Census
2nd Battalion Cheshire Regiment, The Ridge, Jubbulpore, India
Pte George White, age 27, single, born Deptford, Kent.

Marriage of George White and Elizabeth A. Jones registered in December quarter 1912 at Whitchurch, Salop.

Personal Data

The Tipton Library Memorial commemorates G. White; the Staffordshire Memorial list expands this to Sgt G. White, East Lancs Regiment.

The only Sgt. G. White in the East Lancs is Sgt 31475 George White, 11th East Lancs (the Accrington Pals). 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' mentions Deptford, Woolwich and Whitchurch, Salop but nothing in the remaining records mentions Tipton.

Could it be that his widow moved from the Sun Inn, Chirbury to Tipton at some stage after his death, and that George never lived in Tipton? Or possibly his name was put forward by a relative living in Tipton. A mystery never likely to be fully resolved.

After George's' death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £19/8/2d (19 pounds, 8 shillings and 2 pence); this was paid to his widow, Elizabeth, in January1920. His War Gratuity was £24/0/0d (24 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his widow in January1920. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that George had enlisted in August 1914.

Action resulting in his death

The German Spring Offensive on the Somme had stalled on 5th April 1918, and their attention moved to the north. Just 4 days later a second offensive commenced – Operation Georgette. This began on the 9th April in French Flanders, to the west of Armentieres, but by the next day was extended into Belgium towards Ypres as far as the Ypres-Comines canal.

As German troops continued to advance, British divisions weakened by the recent Somme offensive were moved north into Flanders. This included the 31st Division containing the 11th Bn. East Lancashire Regiment (11/EL), known as the “Accrington Pals”. On 11th April, the 11/EL arrived near the village of Vieux Berquin; although in France this is just 15 miles south west of Ypres.

At daybreak on the 12th April, the 11/EL were in reserve behind fellow units of the 31st Division, facing south east towards the village of Doulieu. By 9am enemy shelling had forced a gap in the units in front of the 11/EL, and by 10am the forward units were forced to withdraw. The 11/EL covered this withdrawal and their fire forced a temporary German halt. However at 11.30am, the 11/EL were ordered to withdraw to keep in contact with the others of 31st Division.

In the early afternoon, units further to the left of the 11/EL had fallen back further than expected. This allowed the Germans to take the village of Outtersteene and threaten to encircle the 11/EL. So, at around 3.30pm the 11/EL were ordered to a new defensive line to the west of Outtersteene. By 7pm the new line was in place, with forward posts advanced eastwards towards Outtersteene. The exhausted battalions took advantage of a relatively quiet night to strengthen their positions.

The 11th Bn. East Lancashire Regiment had 35 men killed on the 12th April, including George White. Like the majority of these men (30 of the 35), George has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial.

The above owes much to a larger article, with superb maps, on the Acrington Pals website. Take a look at: http://www.pals.org.uk/lys.htm

Newspaper Cuttings