WW1 Rifleman John Leigh White 26/1158

John Leigh White [1]

John Leigh White was born in Auckland on 22 September 1884. He was the fifth child of John Ebenezer White (1 August 1834 – 17 August 1892) and his second wife Charlotte Benge (1854 -1929) [1] [2].

He was one of seven children. [3] His grandfather was the Rev. William White 1794-1875), who was sent to New Zealand to help the Reverend Samuel Leigh establish the first Wesleyan mission. [4] His father John Ebenezer White died in 1892 and in 1898 and 1901 his mother Charlotte White is recorded as living in Orakei Road, Remuera. [5] John attended Remuera Primary School.

On attestation on 16 November 1915, John was recorded as being 31 years of age and living in Pownall Street, Masterton working as a telegraph linesman for the N Z Government. He was married to Rachel White and had two children Elizabeth May, born 5.7.1910 and John Angus born 31 October 1912 in Masterton. [6]

When he enlisted for active service with the Tenth Reinforcements, he was presented “with a wristlet watch by his comrades. Mr White left for Trentham this morning. In making the presentation the telegraph engineer stated that Mr White was the tenth member of his staff to offer his services to the military authorities.”[7]

He left New Zealand for Suez on 5 February 1916 on the Mokoia as a Rifleman with the N Z Rifle Brigade, 4th Battalion, D Company. On the 7th April 1916 he embarked for France from Alexandria on the Alaunia. He was killed in action by a shell in the Battle for the Somme on 15th July 1916. The Wairarapa Age reported: Word was received in Masterton yesterday that Private J L. White, of Master ton, had been killed in action. The deceased, who at the time he enlisted was engaged as a telegraph linesman in Masterton, was engaged in special and very hazardous work at the front. He was about 34 years of age, and leaves a wife and two children, who will have the deep sympathy of the whole community in their sad bereavement. [8]

He is buried in Cemetery Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres, France I. D. 21. John Leigh White is remembered on the Remuera Primary School memorial gates (J White) and his name is engraved on the Wairarapa Soldiers’ Memorial which was unveiled in Queen Elizabeth Park, Masterton, on 16 September 1923. The following In Memoriam notices were placed:

ON ACTIVE SERVICE. J L WHITE.—On July 15, killed in action in Stance, Rifleman John Leigh White, dearly beloved husband of Rachel White. Masterton: youngest son of Mrs. J. E. White, of Hawera, late of Remuera, and brother of Thos. White, Wanganul Avenue, Ponsonby. [9]


IN MEMORIAM. WHITE.—in loving memory of our darling Daddy, Rifleman John Leigh White, 4th Battalion, N.Z. R. B. who was killed in action, in France, on July .15th, 1916.

Greater love hath no man than this, That he sacrificed his all, in answer to England’s call.

No one knows of the untold agony, Of our hearts, just rent in twain,

For when it came to the final parting, There flashed across each mind, the thought— That we may never meet again. Just a few months in the trenches, Then God called our darling Daddy home,

To be with Him in Heaven, for higher service, For we have had the sweet assurance

Since our hero daddy sailed over the sea, That we shall meet him in Heaven, and again united be.

— lnserted by his loving Wife and Children, M., J., and R. White. [10]