White, William Samuel. Died 3rd Jul 1916

William Samuel White’s birth was registered in Q4, 1895, and he was baptised on 6 March 1896 at St Andrew’s church, Rugby on Rugby, St Andrew

His father, Thomas White was born in about 1867 in Monks Kirby, Rugby, and in 1896 he was a labourer. His mother Mary Sophia née Clarke White was born in about 1864 in Ireland.   Their marriage was registered in Q2, 1893 in Warwick and when William was baptised, they lived at 11 Castle Street.

By 1901, the family lived at 62 James Street, Rugby, and Thomas White was a ‘Rly ?Timber Loader’. In 1911, William’s parents and younger brother and two younger sisters were living at 46 Manor Road, Rugby. William was still a schoolboy but was registered as a ‘visitor’ next door at 44 Manor Road Rugby – possibly they had a spare room – or perhaps he was indeed, just visiting.

Prior to the war, William had been at school at Laurence Sheriff and was then employed as an architect by Mr. W H Linnell.

He is reported to have ‘… enlisted at the commencement of the war’[1] as Private, No.10053 in the 10th Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and he was later promoted to Lance Corporal.

The 10th (Service) Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment was formed at Warwick in Sep 1914 as part of the second of Kitchener’s new armies. It was assigned to 57th Brigade in 19th Division on the Salisbury Plain. In December 1914 the battalion was in billets for the winter and in March 1915 concentrated with its division around Tidworth. On 17 May 1915 the battalion embarked for France and Flanders.

William S White’s Service Medal and Award Rolls show that he was in France from 18 July 1915, so he went to France with his Battalion. It was reported that he ‘… had been recommended for a commission, and had already undergone his training for such.’[2]

During the Battle of the Somme in 1916, the battalion was in the operational area between 1 July and 7 August and later, between 7 October and the end of the battle on 18 November 1916.

The 19th Division was actually ‘in reserve’ on 1 July 1916, when …

… La Boisselle was attacked by the 34th Division of III Corps … but the bombardment had not damaged the German deep-mined dug-outs … The III Corps divisions lost more than 11,000 casualties and failed to capture La Boisselle or Ovillers, … The advance of the 103rd Brigade was over ground with a fold, which meant that the disastrous attack by the preceding brigades could not be seen as the brigade advanced to be engaged by artillery and machine-gun fire, which inflicted 70 percent casualties, before the troops had reached the British front line. … The 19th (Western) Division [including the 10th Warwickshires] was rushed forward from the reserve, in case of a German counter-attack on Albert. The 19th Division continued the attack and captured most of the village by 4 July.[3]

It was presumably in this action and the advance from the reserve that William Samuel White was killed on 3 July 1916.

He is though listed as Samuel White by the CWGC, as one of those killed or missing, on 3 July 1916 and whose body was not found or identified. He is remembered on Pier and Face 9 A, 9 B and 10 B of the Thiepval Memorial.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 1 August 1932.

He is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates, and on the Lawrence Sheriff memorial plaque

William Samuel White was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.




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This article on William Samuel White was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2016.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 29 July 1916.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 29 July 1916.

[3]         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capture_of_La_Boisselle

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