On this day in 1916, John Lee White (1893-1916) died of wounds sustained in action on the Western Front in the Great War.
John was 24 and a private in the 4th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment when he lost his life on the Somme in France on October 25, 1916.
His death was announced nine days later in The Western Times.
The newspaper reported that his sisters in Drewsteignton had initially been told that John’s ‘left arm had been amputated and that he had also been wounded in the head’.
But, said The Western Times, ‘the news of his death so soon after the first intimation came as a shock to his relatives and many friends’.
John was the ‘third of Drewsteignton’s heroes’ to have made ‘the great sacrifice’.
He volunteered for service under a recruitment drive called the Derby Scheme – named after Edward Stanley, the 17th Earl of Derby.
He had been in France only a month before he lost his life and had visited his home in Drewsteignton eight weeks before he died.
The Western Times said that John died on the day one of his sisters celebrated her birthday.
‘Private White was of a bright … disposition and was a member of the Reading Room Club in which he took a very keen interest. The deepest sympathy is felt for the father, brothers and sisters,’ said the newspaper.
A memorial service for John was held at Drewsteignton Parish Church on November 5, 1916.
He was buried at St Sever Cemetery in Rouen, France, and is remembered on Drewsteignton War Memorial.
John was the son of William George White (1856-1931) and Mary Ann Lee. William was the son of Eliza Tancock (1828-1896) and Samuel White (1829-1891). Eliza was the sister of Sarah Tancock (1851-1900), who married Daniel Arscott (1857-1922) on October 17, 1877 at Tristram Chapel, Puddington. Daniel was my great-grandfather.
John was born in 1893 in Drewsteignton. In 1901, he lived with his widowed father in Preston Cottages, Drewsteignton.
John Lee White’s grave at St Sever Cemetery, Rouen. Photo by Lesueur Dominique.