Arthur White

Arthur White
Arthur White

Arthur was born in Leicester on 25 August 1888, son of Charles Taylor and Annie Sarah (Leedham) White. He left England for New Zealand with his mother and sister (Hilda Florence White) from Tilbury Dock on the RMS Remuera (Capt Greenstreet, NZ Shipping Company) on 19 December 1912, arriving in Wellington NZ, 3 February 1913.

In April 1916 he left NZ aboard the NZ Shipping Company ‘Rimutaka’ from Wellington to escort his mother home. Once back in England he joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force at Hornchurch on 28 June 1916. Arthur had three weeks training in England before being shipped to France as a Gunner with the 4th Howitzer Battery.

He went on to become a cook in the Sergeants’ Mess and having passed a cooks’ examination he received a Bombardier’s pay, but without the stripe which he apparently didn’t mind as he was just glad of the extra money.

An exploding German artillery shell wounded Arthur in the thigh about 10 Oct 1917 while he was in the ‘Cook House’. As a result he was shipped back to England to the No. 2 NZ General Hospital, Mount Felix, where he underwent three operations after his wounds turned septic. On his recovery he returned to service joining the 6th Howitzer Battery as a driver – taking shells up to the guns.

Arthur lost most of his war time souvenirs with the explosion that wounded him. However he didn’t lose his memories and one story the family remembers he told was of being in a dugout with a fellow soldier who suddenly told him to move quickly and get out of the dugout. Both jumped out moments before a German artillery shell exploded in the trench where they had been. On asking his mate how he knew it was coming, his mate said he didn’t, he just heard a voice telling him to get out quick.

After the war, whilst still a member of Expeditionary Force, Arthur married Ethel Baxter at St Werburghs, Spondon, Derbyshire on 24 February 1919. He met Ethel while visiting his Aunt Mary Leedham. Ethel was a maid and Mary was a cook for the Bunning family who lived at the Hollies, Borrowash, Derbyshire.

Arthur and Ethel corresponded to each other during the war. Arthur and Ethel left England from Plymouth on the troopship RMS Athenic on 15 July 1919, arriving in Wellington NZ on 1 January 1919. Arthur was formally discharged from the Expeditionary Forces on 29 September 1919 having served 3 years 93 days active service. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.