Albert WHITE

WHITE, Albert

Service Number: 4785
Enlisted: 21 September 1915, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 25th Infantry Battalion
Born: North Pine, Queensland, Australia, 25 May 1892
Home Town: North Pine, Queensland
Schooling: North Pine State School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 10 June 1918, aged 26 years
Cemetery: Beacon Cemetery, Sailly-Laurette
Memorials: Australian War Memorial 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
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World War 1 Service

21 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 4785, Brisbane, Queensland
12 Apr 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 4785, 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, Private, 4785, 25th Infantry Battalion, RMS Mooltan, Sydney
14 Nov 1916: Wounded Private, 4785, 25th Infantry Battalion, 'The Winter Offensive' - Flers/Gueudecourt winter of 1916/17, GSW (thigh)
10 Jun 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 4785, 25th Infantry Battalion, Merris (France)

Albert White

Albert died attempting to find the body of his brother (half brother).
Initially reported missing in action, he was later found deceased from extensive wounds.

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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 Albert  #4785  25th Battalion


Albert (Bert) White was born at North Pine (Petrie) to James and Catherine White. James White had been married twice and most of his children were born to his first wife. The second marriage, to Catherine, produced son Albert, who was considerably younger than his step siblings. Because of this family situation, Bert and his mother were very close.


Bert attended North Pine State School and presumably went into a life of farming. In spite of his relatively young age, he must have been well respected in the local community as at the time of his enlistment in 1915, Bert was a trustee of the Pine Rivers Agricultural, Horticultural and Industrial Association. (The association’s show grounds are still in use and the grounds were the original site of the Pine Rivers War Memorial Gates).


Bert’s step brother, Frederick, enlisted in Rockhampton where he was serving as a mounted police constable, on 7th September 1915. Frederick would have travelled by train from Gladstone to Brisbane to report to camp at Enoggera. It is not inconceivable that Fred would have visited his family during the journey and perhaps it was this visit that prompted Bert to enlist as well. Bert White enlisted in Brisbane on 21st September 1915, 14 days after his brother Fred. Bert’s enlistment papers record that he was 23 years old. He stated his occupation as farmer and named his mother, Catherine White of North Pine as his next of kin. Bert and Fred White reported together to Bell’s Paddock at Enoggera and were placed into the #6 Depot Battalion.


Recruiting was being bolstered by newspaper reports of events at Gallipoli during the latter part of 1915. Enoggera was shipping large numbers of reinforcements to Egypt once sufficiently trained. Bert and his step brother were allocated as part of the 12th reinforcements for the 25th Battalion on 19th January 1916. By this time they had been issued with uniforms and they had a studio photograph taken. A copy of the photo is now in the collection of the Australian War Memorial and it shows the two step brothers in the standard battle jackets but without the rising sun badges on the collar. Each is wearing a British pattern cap, which would be replaced with a slouch hat before embarkation and both men are holding riding whips. Fred White who sported a waxed moustache would appear to be wearing a white starched collar under his tunic.

The 25th Battalion was part of the 7th Brigade of the 2nd Division AIF. The battalion had been raised at Enoggera in March 1915 and was mainly comprised of men from regional Queensland, particularly the Darling Downs. The 25th saw action on Gallipoli during the last three months of that campaign and in early 1916 was back in Egypt being reinforced and equipped before being sent to the western front.


The 12th reinforcements were sent by train to Sydney where they boarded the “Mooltan” on 12th April 1916. Bert had allocated 4/- of his daily pay to his mother. The war records are rather sketchy regarding the reinforcements arrival in England but it is most likely that they went into one of the many Australian training camps being established on Salisbury Plain. The first definite record shows Bert being deployed overseas on 9th September and finally joining the 25th on 25th September 1916, a year after enlisting.


While Bert 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 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, Bert sustained a gun-shot wound to the right thigh. His brother Fred was also wounded on the same day. Bert was transported by ambulance train to Rouen and then loaded onto a hospital ship for England where he would spend a month in the 1st General Hospital before being discharged to a two week furlough. He reported to the Convalescent Depot at Perham Downs on 3rd January 1917 and was on a ferry at Folkstone a month later headed back to France. By the 11th February, Bert was back with his battalion.


In Bert’s absence, the town of Bapaume had finally been taken and the new front was just to the northeast of Bapaume near Noreuil. The 25th were occupying the line in the Noreuil sector in March 1917, constructing a jumping off trench, laying tapes and establishing forward posts as a prelude to an attack by the other 3 battalions in the 7th Brigade. Bert’s file records that he received gun-shot wounds to the head and shoulder. By the 12th April he was back in hospital in England. These wounds were a lot more serious than his previous wounding and his mother was informed of his condition by telegram.


Bert was discharged from hospital on 30th May and was granted a two week furlough before reporting to the convalescent depot at Perham Downs. Once Bert was passed as fit for return to duty, he crossed the channel from Folkstone and made his way to the Ypres salient where the 25th was training for a series of major stunts. Bert was involved in the attacks at Menin Road in September. Broodseinde in October and Passchendaele in November. After such an exhausting period, the 25th along with the rest of the Australians in Belgium went into billets around Poperinghe for a well-earned rest. Bert would spend two months of this rest period in hospital sick with an undiagnosed illness.


On 21st March 1918, the German Commander on the Western Front, Ludendorff, launched Operation Michael which saw a substantial advance along the valley of the Somme from the strongpoint of the Hindenburg Line west towards the city of Amiens. The British 5th Army which had control of this sector was routed and there was a distinct possibility that the French and British Armies would be split and the German advance could reach the French Coast and win the war. In order to halt the rapid advance and plug the gaps left in the British defences General Haig ordered several divisions of the AIF to rush south from Belgium. 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.


Reports to the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Bureau from witnesses relate that Bert had reached the opposing German trench line when he heard that his brother, Frederick, 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. Bert was listed as Missing in Action but his file records that this was amended to Killed in Action. 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 should be eventually buried in the same cemetery, Beacon British Cemetery near Corbie on the banks of the Somme.


Catherine White wrote to the authorities at the end of the war expressing her thanks for the care that had been taken with the remains of Bert and Fred. By the time that medals, memorial scrolls and plaques were being issued to next of kin, James White, father to both boys was deceased. Catherine signed for Bert’s medals. Fred’s brother received medals for Fred. Bert and Fred White are commemorated on the Roll of Honour of North Pine State School and the North Pine Presbyterian Honour Board, in addition to the Strathpine Rolls of Honour.