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White, S.A., Capt., 1916

Shields Gazette 11/07/1916

Ancestry UK

Captain S.A. White with his Batman

Oxford High School War Memorial

Oxford High School Old Boys Association

Sunderland Echo July 1916

Colchester Grammar School

On the Thiepval Memorial is the name of Captain Stewart Alexander White, serving with the 21st Battalion (2nd Tyneside Scottish) Northumberland Fusiliers who died on the 03/07/1916.

Stewart Alexander White was born 24th September 1886, at 59 William Street, Herne Bay, Kent, the eldest son, of three boys, to James Stephen White, a Licensed Victualler, and his wife Emma Elizabeth White. They had 4 children. In 1891, they were managing the 'Dolphin' Inn public House next door, [which] had been managed by two previous generations of the White family.

In 1901 Stewart was residing at 20 Beechcroft Road, Oxford, with his brothers Douglas [born Herne Bay, 1887] and Bruce [born Herne Bay, 1888], who were all staying with their Cousins, Claude Moore [School Master born, 1865, Lydford Devonshire], and his wife Clara [born 1868, London], and their two children Philip [born 1890, London] and Kate? born 1898, Oxford].

Stewart was being educated at the High School, in Oxford, [this the same school Lawrence of Arabia had attended], and winning scholarships there proceeded to Oxford University in January 1898. He matriculated at University College, Oxford, on the 13th October 1905; 1, Mathematical Moderations, 1907; 3 Final Honour School of Mathematics, B.A., M.A., 1912. Assistant master, Royal Grammar School, Colchester, 1909, Mathematics master South Shields High School 1911: at Bede Collegiate School, 1914.

"According to the Oxford Historical Register Supplement, 1901-1930," Stewart White passed Honour Mathematical Moderations with a first in 1907 and achieved the degree of BA in Mathematics with a third in 1909. According to his entry in the card register of those who matriculated between 1891 and 1932, the degrees of BA and MA were conferred on White at a ceremony held on the 25th May 1912. [Since 1859, the degree of MA has required no further study, examination or residence as those who hold the degree of BA are entitled to proceed to the degree of MA seven years after their matriculation]. Therefore, White will not have pursued any further study to obtain the degree of MA in 1912.

While he was at Oxford he joined the O.U.O.T.C. (Cavalry), and subsequently served in the Oxford Hussars 1906 -1909, the Essex Yeomanry 1909-1912, and the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles 1912 - 1914.

He had various teaching engagements, and for a time, while on vacation from Oxford, at the request of the managers, he filled a vacancy at the Herne Bay Council Schools, under the auspices of the Kent Education Committee, circa 1911.

In 1911 he was living at the Divers Arms, Herne Bay, Kent, which was a public house, his parents were running at the time.

Stewart Alexander White, schoolmaster, married Annie Maria Keppell, [born 3rd November 1877], age 36, daughter of the late Oscar Julius William Keppell, Captain, on the 5th August 1914 at St Aidans Church, South Shields, Durham.

Whilst at South Shields he was teaching at the South Shields High School and Bede Collegiate School in Sunderland, 1914. He was lodging at 21 Ravensbourne Terrace, South Shields from 1913.

Stewart wrote a letter from this address, to his brother Bruce, bemoaning the fact that everything was expensive. He was paying 25s for his food and lodgings, and the cost of a weekend away 2 10s was expensive, explaining why he did not visit much. Also in the same letter he mentions that he was given 16, by his Aunt Mary, to support him when he was taking his M.A. at Oxford, and as a result he is paying it back monthly regularly. The same letter also claims that the Headmaster at the school was inefficient and they were left to their own resources to be more efficient. He also had a friend who owned a boat stating that he was earning 9 an hour!, Stewart complained that on overtime he was getting 4s an hour!. He also noted that he still volunteered for the East Kent Yeomanry, jokingly, stating he was the best shot in Shields!. To make ends meet Stewart was also doing private tuition and he earned about 20 extra income. Stewart confirmed that he was getting 160 per annum for his 5 Years teaching appointment, but was commenting on not much excitement, too much Drudgery. However, when writing further on, he described the North Country People as 'decent', and recognised that Shipbuilding and Coal were the main industries. Stewart also comments despairingly on his Father and worried about his mother, who is often suffering attacks of bronchitis and is having trouble with her eyes. He does mention other members of the family.

The residence address stated when the couple were married was 57 St Aidans Terrace, South Shields, Durham. Stewart and his wife later moved to 30 Sea View Terrace, South Shields, Durham.

Stewart had also joined the South Shields Freemason Lodge.

On the 16th November 1914, he took up a commission as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the Northumberland Fusiliers, a temporary lieutenant from the 16th November 1914, and later promoted to a captaincy, and made Adjutant of the regiment. For about a year, he fulfilled his duties as an Adjutant [from the 3rd February 1915 to the 28th February 1916], including one month at the Front, before resigning the Adjutancy.

In the 'Bedan' magazine Issue no 36, December 1914 page 569, there is a heading Masters on Military Service. White, Stewart Alexander, M.A., (Oxford). Sec-Lieut., 2nd Batt Tyneside Scottish, Newcastle.

The headmaster of Bede College gave Stewart a character reference dated December 9th 1914.

When he enlisted his permanent address was 51 St Aidans' Terrace, South Shields, but also had a correspondence address of c/o Headquarters 2nd Battalion, Tyneside Scottish, Tilley's Rooms, Newcastle.

In December 1914, the Bede Collegiate School in Sunderland, where Stewart was teaching, had his name mentioned under the heading Bede School Masters on Military Service, in the College Magazine called the "Bedan", Vol 1, Issue no 36, page 569, is an entry that reads:- "White, Stewart Alexander, M.A. (Oxford). Sec-Lieut., 2nd Batt. Tyneside Scottish, Newcastle."

The "Bedan" magazine Vol 2 Issue no 42, page 663, now reads:- " White, Capt, Stewart Alexander, M.A. (Oxon), North'd Fus, (2nd Tyneside Scottish) B.E.F. France. July 1, 16. [sic] A Bede School Master. Not an Old Bedan.

On the 1st of July, the 21st Battalion were to pass South of La Boisselle, followed by the 22nd Battalion, with the 26th (3rd Tyneside Irish Battalion) in support. Brigade Bombing companies had been formed to storm the village. The message of good wishes sent by the Army Commander was suppose to be delivered by runners, but one of the Brigade staff officers, was worried that the front line troops would not get the message, so the message was delivered by telephone or telegraph. In La Boisselle village was a German Listening post, "Moritz", this listening post picked up some of the message, this confirmed that an attack would take place. Also German intelligence had identified the 34th Division would be attacking La Boisselle. The 21st Battalion did reach the first line of the German defences. But so few men were left and every officer became a casualty including Captain A. S White.

According to an eye-witness, 2nd Lieutenant Spearing, of 74 Defoe Road, Tooting, London SW, [also of the 21st Battalion], said the Captain White had reached the third line of the German Lines before dying severely wounded in a German Dugout of the night of 2/3rd July.

There is an unidentified newspaper clipping which has the heading Died For Their Country.

It Reads as follows:- "CAPT. S. WHITE.

"We regret to record that Capt. Stewart Alexander White, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, has been killed in action. He was the son of Lieut. J. S. White, of the Herne Bay Fire Brigade, and Mrs. White, and was aged 29 years. As a lad the deceased officer showed considerable promise, and won several scholarships. He went to the High School, Oxford, and winning scholarships there proceeded to the University, where he took his M. A. degree. While at Oxford he joined the Officers Training Corp [OTC], and subsequently served in the Oxford Hussars, the Essex Yeomanry, and the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles. He had various teaching engagements, and for a time, while on vacation from Oxford, at the request of the managers, he filled a vacancy at the Herne Bay Council Schools, where he was very popular with the boys. On the outbreak of war he took up a commission in the Northumberland Fusiliers, and was later promoted to a captaincy, and made adjutant of the regiment. A few days ago Mr and Mrs White received news that he was missing, and they hoped that he might still be alive, although a prisoner in the hands of the enemy: but on Monday came the sad intelligence that he had been killed in action. The greatest sympathy has been expressed with the parents, the widow, and other members of the family in their sad loss, for death has removed a young man of talent, one who, while he loved his books, was a true sportsman, and one whose future career was full of promise. A brother Douglas, a corporal in the Northumberland Hussars, is on active service".

The same Newspaper also had a Obituary to him, which reads:- "White.- Killed in action, on July 1st, 1916, Stewart Alexander White, Captain, Northumberland Fusiliers, eldest son of Mr & Mrs, J. S White, of the Diver's Arms, Herne Bay, in his 30th year".

The same unidentified newspaper also had a tribute to him which reads as follows:- "Tribute to a Gallant Officer".

The widow of Capt. Stewart Alexander White, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, son of Lieut. J. S. White, of the Herne Bay Fire Brigade, and Mrs White, whose death in action was recorded in our columns last week, has received a letter of condolence from an officer serving at the Front. It is a fine tribute to his memory. "It is with the most profound regret and deepest sympathy," says the writer, "that I have to write to you of the death of Capt. White, who fell when leading his men in an attack made on the 1st July. He had succeeded, I understand, in capturing the enemy trench when he was struck down. Perhaps the highest testimony to his gallantry is that of the men who were with him, who accounted him a brave soldier. There can be no higher praise from a soldier's lips. I know that my own grief at Captain White loss is shared by the surviving officers and men of the whole battalion, and his memory will never be forgotten."

The 'Bedan' (the house magazine for the Bede school where he was a master) carried a brief Obituary which reads:- "Capt. White, North'd Fusiliers, who (after the fighting in France on July 1st and 2nd) was officially reported "missing, believed killed", was educated at Oxford High School, and at University College, Oxford, where he won an open mathematical scholarship, gained a first class in mathematical moderations, and took an honours degree in mathematics. He was a master successively at Colchester Grammar School, South Shields High School, and Bede Collegiate School (where he was appointed in April 1914). He was N.C.O. in the Territorial Forces for several years, but resigned at Easter, 1914. Married just before the war, he joined the Tyneside Scottish, November, 1914, being gazetted lieutenant, and was soon promoted captain, and was adjutant for twelve months. Capt. White stood about 6ft 3in., was 30 years old, and looked the picture of health and good spirits when he visited Bede School a few weeks ago. Much sympathy is felt with his widow, whose present address is 30 Sea View, South Shields." Source: Bedan Magazine, Vol 2, Issue 41 Page 677, July 1916.

His widow later moved to 74 Ashley Road, South Shields. Durham. She received a pension of 100 per annum, commencing the 2nd July 1916, and a War Gratuity of 250.

When his effects and accounts were being settled, a discrepancy came up about his time as Adjutant for the battalion, there was an amount of money 47 19s 07 in the Battalions Imprest account that was unaccounted for. The amount was later reduced to 46 19s 10d. This was later taken off the monies due to Stewart from his estate, minus his grooms wages of 2 17s 0d.

In his will he left effects of 302.18s to his widow. Annie Maria White. This was confirmed by the solicitor Mr Young of W. S. Young, Salem Street, South Shields.

On the 4th August 1916. his widow wrote to the War Office at London about a Signet ring which she gave to her husband to wear. A Captain Napier of the 21st Battalion had the ring handed to him by one of the men. Captain Napier sent it to the War Office for safe keeping.

8th August she wrote again asking where his personal effects were, watch, revolver, binoculars, signet ring,

The company of Messrs Cox & Co's Shipping Agency Ltd of 16 Charing Cross, S.W. were appointed to forward Stewart Effects to her.

On the 7th August a death certificate was sent to Stewart's widow showing an incorrect date of death of the 1st July 1916.

Mrs White wrote to the War Office asking about the extra money she was entitled to for the 2 days that her husband was wounded 2nd and 3rd July, [bearing in mind her pension was paid from the 2nd of July], reminding the War Office that she also had a frail mother to care for.

The War Office responded by asking for evidence of the date of death. Mrs White wrote a letter in response and told the story that Stewarts Father had been told by Lieutenant Spearing. "Mr Spearing was one of Capt White's juniors and related that the morning of July 1st immediately 'Advance' was sounded, Capt White leapt over the parapet followed by his men. It seems he was wounded but pressed onward taking 2 lines of trenches. Meanwhile another Com?:- where most of the officers fell almost at once- were about to lose their heads when Capt White and the late Capt Charlton rallied them and lead them to 3rd line. My Husband was wounded in the abdomen, I was told was carried into [a] German Dugout in [the] 3rd line where he lay for three days until his death it was impossible to remove him as he was bleeding very badly.
A Lieut Matthews since awarded M.M., sat with him I understand but this individual has not deigned? to acquaint me with the facts.
I have given you the facts just as have been related to me or if Mr Spearing is also in Hospital no doubt he can affirm my statement."

The Standing Committee of Adjustment sent some personal effects back which comprised 1 pair spectacles with case, 1 Officers Advance Book, 1 Gold Signet ring Engraved A.K. 4 photographs.

27th January 1917. Letter to 2nd Lieutenant, 21st Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, 74 Defoe Road, Tooting, S.W., from C2 Casualties. In his reply he confirmed that Captain White did die of his wounds in a German Dugout in the third line.

12th February 1917, letter to Mrs White confirming Lieutenant Spearing version and officially amending his date of death to midnight 2/3rd July.

As a result her pension will now start from the 4th July. [the Paymaster claimed that she had been overpaid for her pension by two days. And it needed to be recovered.!].

Stewart was also the Hon. treasurer of South Shields Rifle Association and captain and Hon, treasurer of the South Shields Civilian Rifle Club.

W. Bro. Revd. David T. Youngson, PPAG Chaplain, Northumberland offers the following:
The information given below in respect of some of the brethren is the best possible conclusions from Lodge records, Grand Lodge records, & Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
1970 Hadrian Lodge
Year of Warrant 1882
Freemasons Hall South Shields
Captain (TP) Stewart Alexander WHITE
Northumberland Fusiliers 21st (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion
A Schoolmaster , he was Initiated on the 3rd February 1914; Passed 7th April 1914 and Raised on the 5th May 1914.

Footnote: When the Bede Collegiate School Memorial was unveiled the accompanying Programme, dated the 20th July 1924, showed a list of names who gave their lives, and the very last name was "Stewart Alexander White, M.A. Captain N.F. (A Bede School Master. Not an Old Bedan).

With Thanks to Michael White B.A JP (Australia)

Source: Oxford High School Association. With Thanks Mike Williams. Corps of the Military Police. North Tyneside Libraries

Stewart Alexander White is remembered in Harton H104.06, in South Shields on S86.046, S86.047, in Sunderland on S140.17 and S140.067, on the County of Durham Masonic Roll of Honour and the Masonic Roll of Honour.

Captain Stewart Alexander White is also remembered at the Oxford High School War Memorial where he was educated in his early years.

WW1 Battlefield La Boisselle today
La Boisselle Study Group
South Shields Grammar School
The CWGC entry for Captain White

Trench Map of La Boisselle 1st July 1916

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk