Wilfred Ambrose WHITE


WHITE, Wilfred Ambrose

Service Number: 5240
Enlisted: 3 February 1916
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 10th Infantry Battalion
Born: Richmond, Victoria, Australia, June 1891
Home Town: North Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Grocer
Died: Killed in Action, Belgium, 21 September 1917
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Commemorated on Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Menin Gate Memorial (Commonwealth Memorial to the Missing of the Ypres Salient)
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World War 1 Service

3 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 5240, 10th Infantry Battalion
25 Mar 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 5240, 10th Infantry Battalion
25 Mar 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 5240, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Shropshire, Adelaide
21 Sep 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 5240, 10th Infantry Battalion, Third Ypres
Date unknown: Involvement SN 5240, 10th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Saint Ignatius' College

 Wilfred Ambrose White was a soldier who fought in the 10th Battalion during World War I. He was born in approximately June 1891 in Richmond, Victoria, Australia. Sometime during his childhood his family moved to North Adelaide, South Australia with his mother and father, Tomas R White and Eliza Ann White, where he worked as a grocer's assistant.

 At the age of 24 years and 8 months, on the 3rd of February 1916 White made the decision and enlisted to fight for his country in the war. When enlisting for the war you are tested and measured for almost all aspects of your body. He was 5 feet 2 1/2 inches tall, weight 53.5kg with chest measurements of 32 ¾ in inches. His complexion was described as fresh, he had brown hair and grey eyes. Eye sight testing was very important, so he was tested and passed with both eyes resulting with 6/6. Along with all the measuring and the testing, soldiers were also required to answer questions about their personal lives. They were asked whether they were single or married, whether they had children or not and what religion they believed in. White was not married and didn’t have any children, making him a person more likely to be accepted and believed in the religion Methodist. Health records were also checked as they didn’t want anyone who was undergoing any medical issues or anyone who was at risk of any medical issue to fight in something so dangerous. As he was young and wasn’t married and having children was a good look for his chances on making it into the war. The reason for this is being young usually means the person is healthy and their bodies can fight off disease easier. They also didn’t want to initially break up families and so if they could they wouldn’t accept their enrolments.

People often enrolled for the war because of peer pressure and by giving into the advertisement. War was described to be a fun adventure where you got to wear a nice uniform and people would forever look up to you as someone who fought for the country. If you were someone who didn’t enrol and you were young enough you often received hate and shame from people everywhere you went.

 On the 25th of March 1916, he proceeded to leave overseas to England. By the 1st of October he marched out to join his unit in Etaples. Just under a week later on the 2nd of October he was taken on strength in the field. As of the 9th of November, he was sent to hospital for being sick, from there was transferred to C.R.S due to exhaustion. Shortly after he was admitted for trench feet on the 10th of November 1916 in Rouen. This is when the soldier did not change their socks after a day’s work and all the mud, water and sweat all mixed together causing disease to the foot. Once it was discovered how soldiers developed trench foot, they were required to change their socks daily. By the 20th of November he was discharged to base details from class “A”. In December, he marched out to re-join his unit in France from the hospital.

The following year as of the 28th of July 1917 White proceeded to the first ANZAC corps school. After three weeks, later he re-joined his unit from school. On the 22nd of September, he was reported missing in action in Belgium. As of the 21st of September 1917, White was killed in action. This was formally reported on the 13th of October 1917.

 Due to White being killed in action his body was not all fully found and so his body never made its way back to Australia. For all the soldiers in a position like his own, their bodies weren’t buried but have a small gravestone in a graveyard in Belgium. The place that their names are honoured is called Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium.

In 1923 White was awarded a Victory metal.

When you hear the phrase ‘ANZAC’ you instantly think of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought for their countries throughout the tragic wars. Private Wilfred Ambrose White many have not been a war hero to society but he is. He like thousands of other ANZAC soldiers put their lives at risk to protect their country. He was hospitalised numerous time and he never gave up, he fought and died to his country which is something that not many have done. Private White spent a year the war everyday waking wearing the uniform of his country. Private Wilfred Ambrose White may be in significate to many but that is not true, sacrifices which he made are things that many would never consider doing. He is just as important as any soldier who risked their lives for this cause, he will not be forgotten.

We celebrate ANZAC Day every year on April the 25th in recognition of all the courageous soldiers from Australia and New Zealand who formed together to be part of the Allies.