Frederick Alexander WHITE

WHITE, Frederick Alexander

Service Number: 4782
Enlisted: 7 September 1915, Rockhampton, Queensland
Last Rank: Lance Sergeant
Last Unit: 25th Infantry Battalion
Born: North Pine, Queensland, Australia, 29 May 1881
Home Town: North Pine, Queensland
Schooling: North Pine State School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Mounted police constable
Died: Killed in Action, France, 10 June 1918, aged 37 years
Cemetery: Beacon Cemetery, Sailly-Laurette
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Brisbane Queensland Police Service Roll of Honour, Cleveland Redlands Honour Roll, Kallangur Pine Rivers Memorial Gates, North Pine State School Roll of Honour, Petrie North Pine Presbyterian Church Roll of Honor, Redland Bay War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

7 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 4782, Rockhampton, Queensland
12 Apr 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, 4782, 25th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '15' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: RMS Mooltan embarkation_ship_number: '' public_note: ''
12 Apr 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Corporal, 4782, 25th Infantry Battalion, RMS Mooltan, Sydney
14 Nov 1916: Wounded 4782, 25th Infantry Battalion, 'The Winter Offensive' - Flers/Gueudecourt winter of 1916/17, GSW (ankle)
20 Mar 1917: Wounded Corporal, 4782, 25th Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages, 2nd occasion - GSW (right shoulder)
10 Jun 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Sergeant, 4782, 25th Infantry Battalion, Merris (France), --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 4782 awm_unit: 25 Battalion awm_rank: Lance Sergeant awm_died_date: 1918-06-10

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

"...Two brothers, both of the 25th Battalion. 4782 Private Frederick Alexander White, of Rockhampton, Qld, and 4785 Pte Albert White of North Pine, Qld. The brothers enlisted in September 1915 and embarked together with the 12th Reinforcements from Sydney on board RMS Mooltan on 12 April 1916. Frederick White was appointed Acting Corporal for the duration of the voyage, reverting to the rank of Private in July 1916. The brothers arrived in France for service on the Western Front on 11 September 1916. For Frederick White several periods as Acting Corporal followed until being permanently promoted in March 1917. In September he was appointed Lance Sergeant. Both brothers were wounded in action in November 1916 and March 1917. Frederick, aged 37, and Albert, aged 26, were killed in action at Morlancourt, France, on 10 June 1918." - SOURCE (


Biography contributed by Ian Lang


WHITE Frederick (Fred) Alexander  #4782  25th Battalion


Fred White was born in 1881. He had at least two other brothers and a sister and the family lived at North Pine (Petrie). Somewhere around 1890 Fred’s mother died and his father, James, remarried which resulted in another sibling, Albert (See above). Fred attended North Pine State School as did his brothers and sister. After leaving school he may have worked on the family farm for a time or in rural labouring jobs before joining the Queensland Police Force (now Queensland Police Service) in 1909. His first posting was at the Police Depot in Brisbane but he was soon posted to Mungindi on the Queensland / New south Wales border west of Dirranbandi. Fred reported to his enlisting officer that he had been a member of the Queensland Mounted Infantry and also the 7th Australian Light Horse ( both units were part time citizens forces) and it would appear that this service coincided with his police service as a mounted police constable.


Fred was posted to Gladstone as a mounted constable in March 1914 and presumably continued his part time military service. On 7th September 1915 Fred journeyed to Rockhampton to enlist in the AIF. He presented as a 32 year old man of above average (for the time) height of 5’11” and a healthy 13 stone. He stated he was single and named his younger brother, Francis, as his next of kin. Upon acceptance into the AIF Fred would have been issued with a rail warrant to travel to Enoggera. It is likely that on this journey he caught up with some members of his family at North Pine and that his younger step brother, Albert, was inspired to enlist as well.


Fred and Bert entered camp together at Enoggera on 21st September and were placed in the 6th depot battalion. In January 1916, both brothers were allotted to the 12th reinforcements of the 25th Battalion. It is interesting to speculate as to the reasons for Fred being assigned to an infantry battalion rather than a Light Horse Regiment that suited his skills. After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the British government wanted to concentrate resources to the main game; the western front. The Australian government, under pressure from England, had agreed to increase the number of divisions of the AIF from two to five, and to place them at the disposal of the British authorities, i.e. the western front. The flood of Australian recruits that had enlisted in the latter half of 1915 would provide the manpower for this expansion to occur. The Light Horse had been tasked with defence of the Suez Canal and their demands for reinforcements could be met from within the remount units already in Egypt.


Perhaps in recognition of his age, bearing and background, Fred was promoted to temporary corporal (with an extra 4/- a day pay). He and Bert both made wills which were held by a firm of solicitors in Brisbane. Bert named his mother as sole beneficiary but Fred named his sister, Lily Powell of New Zealand as his sole heir. The 12th reinforcements of the 25th boarded the “Mooltan” in Brisbane and sailed for England. After a short stay in England, Fred crossed the channel to join his battalion where he reverted to the rank of private.


While Fred was still in England, the 25th had seen its first major action at Pozieres. The battalion sustained nearly 700 casualties during the last days of July and beginning of August, this from a nominal 900 before going in to the battle. The 25th was sent north to Poperinghe in Belgium for rest, reinforcement and recreation and it was here that Fred and Bert joined the battalion. Unfortunately the rest would not last long and the battalion were entrained headed back to the Somme.


In November 1916, the 25th were ordered to take the heights in front of Bapaume near the village of Flers. On 14th November, Fred sustained a gun-shot wound to the right ankle. His brother Bert was also wounded on the same day. Fred was transported by ambulance train to Rouen. By the 26th January 1917, Fred was back with his battalion. Brother Bert rejoined from hospital in England a fortnight later; the brothers were back together again. On 14th March, Bert was promoted to full corporal. In Fred’s absence, the commanding officer of the 25th had been sacked for his bungling of the attack at Flers (in which both Bert and Fred were wounded). The front had progressed only a couple of miles past Bapaume and he new commander, Lt Col Norrie, planned a series of attacks at Vaux Vraucourt and Noreuil. On 20th March, Fred sustained a gun-shot wound to the right shoulder. In a case of strange coincidence, brother Bert had been wounded just a fortnight before. Again both brothers would spend some time in military hospitals in England.


After crossing the channel by Hospital Ship, Fred was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital. He was discharged to two week furlough and reported to Hurdcott Convalescent Depot on 25th May where he was classified fit for active service on 8th June. On 31st July, Fred marched in to the 25th Battalion lines in the rear areas behind Ypres in Belgium.


On 6th September, Fred was promoted to Lance Sergeant. A week later he was hospitalised in the 1st Australian General Hospital at Boulogne. Fred’s file indicates P.U.O. (Pyrexia of Unknown Origin). An evacuation to the Duchess of Connaught Hospital in Oxfordshire resulted in a diagnosis of trench fever. Trench fever was the scourge of all armies in the war. It was caused by the bite of body lice and resulted in painful aches in limbs, particularly legs, as well as fever. Fred’s case was particularly acute and he would not return to active duty for six months.


Fred rejoined the 25th as they were rushed into the line to defend Amiens at the end of March 1918. It was essential that Amiens be defended at all costs and Haig issued his famous “backs to the wall” speech which was read out to the defenders. The situation in France remained tenuous for most of April until the retaking of Villers Brettonneux on Anzac Day 1918 halted the German advance.


Once the German advance had been halted, Monash; now corps commander, ordered a period of ‘peaceful penetration’ to unsettle the enemy and to engage in limited actions to push the Germans from ground that threatened the Australian positions. An attempt had been made to remove the enemy from a ridge at Morlancourt in May which was only partly successful. A second attack was planned for the evening of the 10th June to take advantage of the summer twilight. The 7th Brigade with the 25th Battalion in the centre of the line set off from the jumping off tapes soon after sunset. The advance was supported by a creeping artillery barrage as well as barrages from trench mortars and heavy machine guns. Fred and Bert went into the attack together, although in different platoons.


Eye witness reports to the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Bureau, initiated by a cousin, Miss Robinson of Banff Scotland relate that Fred who was leading a machine gun team was shot in the forehead and died instantly. Bert had reached the opposing German trench line when he heard that his brother, Fred, had been hit. Several witnesses stated that Bert set off back towards his own lines to search for his brother. None of the witnesses saw Bert again. It is likely that Bert was killed near where his brother had fallen and the two were buried by stretcher bearers once the objective was secured. Morlancourt was a relatively small operation but for the 25th, the casualties of 2 officers and 41 other ranks killed was a serious blow.


Bert and Fred White, in spite of the age difference and parentage, had obviously developed a strong bond while serving with the 25th. It is perhaps fitting that two brothers whose service lives were closely linked would eventually be buried in the same cemetery, Beacon British Cemetery near Corbie on the banks of the Somme.


Fred’s meagre parcel of personal effects were sent to Francis White at Redland Bay. Francis enquired of the authorities if there was any trace of two watches and a smoking outfit that Fred had had in his possession. There is no record of them ever being sent to Francis


By the time that medals and plaques were being issued to relatives of fallen soldiers, Fred’s father was deceased and according to army protocol, the medals would then be issued to the eldest surviving relative, brother Joseph who was a storekeeper outside Maryborough. Joseph advised the authorities that he desired the medals go to Francis White of Redland Bay, who Fred had named as his next of kin. Francis also received three photos of Fred’s grave.


In addition to the Strathpine and Pine Rivers Rolls of Honour, Frederick White is commemorated on the North Pine Presbyterian Honour Board, the North Pine State School Honour Board, the Redland Bay Roll of Honour and the Queensland Police Honour Board.