Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Sir George White VC

© National Museums Northern Ireland
FIELD MARSHAL SIR GEORGE STUART WHITE VC GCB OM GCSI GCMG GCIE GCVO JP DL

George Stuart White was a son of James White, of White Hall, County Antrim, and his wife Frances Ann, daughter of George Stewart, Surgeon-General to the Army in Ireland and his wife Frances (daughter of Colonel William Stewart MP, of Killymoon Castle, County Tyrone).


He was born at Low Rock Castle, Portstewart, County Londonderry, in 1835.


He was educated at Bromsgrove School, Worcestershire, and later at King William's College on the Isle of Man.

From 1850, he attended the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, where he was commissioned into the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot in 1853, prior to serving at the Indian Mutiny.

In 1874, he married Amelia, daughter of the Ven Joseph Baly, Archdeacon of Calcutta, with whom he had one son and four daughters.

Major White fought in the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War in 1879 as second-in-command of the 92nd Regiment of Foot (later The Gordon Highlanders).

He was 44 years old when the following deeds took place in Afghanistan, for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross:

CITATION
For conspicuous bravery during the engagement at Charasiah on the 6th October, 1879, when, finding that the artillery and rifle fire failed to dislodge the enemy from a fortified hill which it was necessary to capture, Major White led an attack upon it in person.

Advancing with two companies of his regiment; and climbing from one steep ledge to another, he came upon a body of the enemy, strongly posted, and outnumbering his force by about 8 to 1. His men being much exhausted, and immediate action being necessary, Major White took a rifle, and, going on by himself, shot the leader of the enemy. This act so intimidated the rest that they fled round the side of the hill, and the position was won.

Again, on the 1st September, 1880, at the battle of Candahar, Major White, in leading, the final charge, under a heavy fire from the enemy, who held a strong position and were supported by two guns, rode straight up to within a few yards of them, and seeing the guns, dashed forward and secured one, immediately after which the enemy retired.
He became the commanding officer of the 92nd Foot in 1881.

He commanded a brigade during the 3rd Anglo-Burmese War of 1885, as a result of which he was promoted to major-general and was knighted in 1886.

In 1889 he took command at Quetta District.

Sir George became Commander-in-Chief, India, in 1893.
He was appointed Quartermaster-General to the Forces in 1898, holding that post until the following year. He was commander of the forces in Natal during the opening of the 2nd Boer War; and commanded the garrison at the Siege of Ladysmith 1899–1900, for which he was appointed GCMG.
General White became Governor of Gibraltar, 1900-04, and was promoted to field marshal in 1903.

He was Governor of the Royal Chelsea Hospital from 1905 until his death there in 1912.

Sir George was buried at Broughshane, County Antrim, his ancestral home, where a memorial now stands.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen.

First published in May, 2013.

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