b. 05/10/1890 Boroughbridge, Yorkshire. d. 20/05/1971 Camberley, Surrey.
Archibald Cecil Thomas “Archie” White (1890-1971) was born at Boroughbridge, Yorkshire on 5th October 1891. His father was Thomas White, who was born Thomas Wright in Derbyshire. His profession was mostly in the clothing trade as either a draper or a milliner. His father had been married twice before he met and married Archie’s mother. Archie’s mother was Jean nee Finlayson, born in Aberdeenshire. Archie had four siblings from his father’s three marriages – Mary Ellen (born 1871), Kate Blanche (born 1876), Godfrey William (born 1877), and John Finlayson (born 1894). Sadly, John was killed in action at Gallipoli in August 1915.
Archie was educated at Harrogate Municipal Technical School, where he was friends with Donald Simpson Bell VC. He gained a scholarship to King’s College London (BA English Literature 1913) and was a member of the Officer Training Corps. He then became a teacher at Westminster School.
Archie was commissioned in 6th Yorkshire on 12th September 1914 and appointed Temporary Lieutenant on 10th December. He became Temporary Captain in May 1915 and sailed with the Battalion from Liverpool on 3rd July. The Battalion landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli on 6th August. Archie was wounded in an attack on 21st August and was evacuated to Egypt. He went to France in July 1916, soon after the start of the Battle of the Somme.
During the period 21st September to 1st October 1916 at Stuff Redoubt, France, Captain White was in command of the troops which held the southern and western faces of a redoubt. For four days and nights by skilful disposition he held the position under heavy fire of all kinds and against several counterattacks. Although short of supplies and ammunition, his determination never wavered and when the enemy attacked in greatly superior numbers and had almost ejected our troops from the redoubt, he personally led a counter-attack which finally cleared the enemy out of the southern and western faces.
The VC was presented by King George V at Hyde Park on 2nd June 1917. Archie returned to France as a GSO3 from 30th June. As a result of the award of his VC, he was made a Fellow of King’s College London in 1917. He was appointed Brigade Major to Brigadier General JV Campbell, Commander of 137th Brigade from March – October 1918. He was awarded the Military Cross for his service in France and Flanders on 3rd June 1918. He was promoted to Captain in May 1919, and was appointed Brigade Major in the Archangel Relief Force on 29th May. He relinquished his commission on 13th November 1920.
He married Jeanie Georgina nee Will on 14th June 1920. She was a teacher and governess from Scotland. They went on to have three daughters. He was appointed Organiser to the Federation of British Industry in 1920 but was soon back in uniform. He was appointed Major in the Army Educational Corps on 25th November 1920. He was appointed GSO2 Instructor at Sandhurst from 1921-1925, following which he was Commandant of Queen Victoria’s School, Dunblane until 28th August 1929. He returned to Sandhurst as Senior AEC Instructor from August 1929 to February 1933.
During World War II, he was appointed to Command Education Officer Home Forces from November 1940 to August 1943. He served in South East Asia before retiring as Honorary Colonel in November 1947. He became Principal of the City Literary Institute from 1948-1956 and returned to give classes after his retirement. He was appointed Deputy Colonel Commandant Royal Army Educational Corps from 1960-1969. In 1966, he was one of 12 VCs who took part in the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of the Somme.
Archie died at his home “Brucklay”, Camberley, Surrey on 20th May 1971 and was cremated at St John’s Crematorium, Woking. His ashes were scattered in Tennyson Lake Garden and his name was listed in Bay 19/173. In addition to his VC and MC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf, 1939-45 Star France and Germany Star, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf, George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935, George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. The VC is owned privately but is on loan to the Green Howards Museum, Richmond, Yorkshire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: GREEN HOWARDS MUSEUM, RICHMOND, YORKSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: WOKING CREMATORIUM, WOKING, SURREY. ASHES SCATTERED.
Archie White's medals on display at the Green Howards Museum (Andrew Swan).
War Illustrated, 11th November 1916