Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Soldiers of the Great War; The Fredericton Soldier Biography History Initiative

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White, Walter James

Private 477991
12th Battalion
71st York Carleton Regiment


Walter James White was born December 7, 1895 in Fredericton, New Brunswick to James and Bertha White. According to newspaper records, his father was the bandmaster of the 12th Battalion and was also part of the 71st Regiment illustrating the influence of the military on Walter. While little is known of Walter's early life, records show that he lived with his brother George White and his parents in a house located on Campbell Street before his parents later moved to 258 Brunswick Street. According to his service records, Walter stood five feet three inches tall, weighed 116 pounds, and had blue eyes, blonde hair, and had fair coloured skin. He was also a part of the Roman Catholic Church and had worked locally as a printer for the local paper, being an accomplished clarinet player in his spare time. His younger brother George would also decide to enlist at the tender age of 15 as a bugler around the same time as Walter. Just prior to formally enlisting records show that Walter was single and had completed training in Valcartier, Quebec with the 12th Battalion in the late summer of 1914; however, he had gone to Cuba and then Bermuda with the Royal Canadian Regiment where he enlisted to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Private White would leave for England from Bermuda arriving the autumn of 1914. He was 20 years old when we went overseas, never to return.

Wartime Experience

Walter arrived in England for training in the fall of 1914 with the Royal Canadian Regiment and would be on Salisbury Plain with other Canadians the winter of 1914-15 until November of 1915. According to Walter's service record, by the fall of 1915 he would receive "168 hours of detention for not complying with orders". The first year had been a difficult one for Canadians waiting their turn to go to the Western Front. While many succumbed to illness or disease and being hospitalized, others endured training and spent time in local communities. Receiving an admonishment or punishment was not uncommon for soldiers waiting to get into the fight. On November 2, 1915 Walter left for France with the 7th Canadian Trench Mortar Battery in the Arras region as a part the Royal Canadian Engineers where he stayed for more than a year. During that time his medical records show that in April 1916 Walter spent time in hospital getting treatment for German Measles and then again in May for a sprained ankle. Overall, his service record does not reveal significant injuries reported early in the war. While the battles of the Somme devastated both the German and Allies in the late summer and autumn of 1916, Private White was one of the lucky ones to make it through to the winter of 1916-17. It would bring a much needed break. However, a few months later, January 23, 1917, Walter was near Neuville-Saint-Vaast with his unit, just south-west of Vimy and north of the city of Arras when a bomb exploded nearby his position, killing him instantly. This information would be shared by his cousin, Private Harold White, writing home to his father indicating how Walter died. He was 22 years of age and had left everything to his mother, Bertha.

Lest We Forget

Private Walter White is buried and remembered with honour at the Ecoivres Military Cemetery in Mont-Saint Elois, France. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the cemetery is an extension of the communal cemetery, where the French army had buried over 1,000 men. The cemetery contains 1,728 commonwealth burials of the First World War.

*This biography was researched and written by Kiera Pugh, a Grade 8 student (2016-2017) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.