White, Alexander (No. 159754)

White, Alexander (Sandy)

Private

No. 159754, 1st Battalion, Canadian Infantry (Western Ontario Regiment)

Died of wounds on Wednesday 11 April 1917 (aged 30)

Buried:

Etaples Military Cemetery, France (Grave XXII. F. 9)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM)

Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for

Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards

BIOGRAPHY

Alexander White was born on 7 April 1887 in Mary Street, Newtownards and he was the eldest son of Henry and Margaret (Maggie) White (nee Bennett) who were married on 16 January 1885 in Regent Street Methodist Church Newtownards.  Henry White was a son of Alex White, a labourer and Maggie Bennett was a daughter of Matthew Bennett, a car driver.

The White family lived in Mary Street, Newtownards.

Henry White worked as an overseer in a spinning mill and he and Maggie had at least eleven children:

Anna (born 2 November 1885 in Mary Street, Newtownards)

Alexander (born 7 April 1887 in Mary Street, Newtownards)

Jane (Jeannie, born 16 January 1889 in Mary Street, Newtownards)

Matthew (born 13 February 1891 in Mary Street, Newtownards)

John (born 9 March 1893 in Mary Street, Newtownards)

James (born 27 December 1894 in Upper Mary Street, Newtownards; died of bronchitis 20 October 1895)

James Bennett (born 21 July 1896 in Upper Mary Street, Newtownards)

Martha (born 28 October 1898 in Mary Street, Newtownards)

Mary (born 2 December 1900 in Mary Street, Newtownards)

Margaret (born 18 May 1903 in Mary Street, Newtownards; died of bronchitis 1 February 1904)

Margaret Ellen (born 12 July 1905 in Mary Street, Newtownards)

After leaving school Sandy White served his time with Messrs David O’ Prey & Sons, Painters and Decorators and that was the trade he followed when he moved to the United States of America.  After the outbreak of the Great War Sandy travelled from the United States to Toronto and on 10 March 1916 he enlisted there and joined the 81st Battalion Canadian Infantry.  In his attestation papers it was noted that Sandy was 5 feet 6 inches tall with a fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.  He contracted a severe cold and as a result was unable to travel to England with his Battalion.  He was transferred to the 9th Battalion and sailed with it to England later.  Sandy was granted a short leave during which he visited his parents in Newtownards.  He went to France in August 1916 along with 400 others to make up the 1st Battalion.

During the advance on Vimy Ridge he and his whole platoon were completely wiped out by a bursting enemy shell.  Sandy was picked up by the stretcher bearers and conveyed to the British Red Cross Hospital at Etaples but his spine was so severely fractured that he died the following day.

In his pocket there was a letter dated 6 April addressed to his mother.  In the letter he thanked her for gifts from home and said that he would be in the line again on his birthday for the proposed ‘big advance’.  He expressed the hope that this advance would take them all the way to the Rhine.

When official news of Sandy White’s death reached his family from the Canadian Record Office his father, mother, brothers and sisters placed a For King and Country notice in the 21 April edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it included the line:

He hath done what he could.

Private Alexander White was buried in Etaples Military Cemetery in France and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:

HE DIED THAT WE MIGHT LIVE

Private Alexander White is commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM); in the Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance (Page 348); on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in the PCI Roll of Honour for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.

Sandy’s father Henry died on 19 May 1927 and his mother Maggie died on 19 October 1939.