Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

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

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White, Oscar

Private 22644
12th Battalion
1st Battalion


Oscar White was born March 20, 1886 in Fredericton, New Brunswick to Samuel M. White and Mary White. According to the 1911 census, Oscar was the second oldest in a family with five daughters and two sons occupying a home at 655 George Street. While little is known of his early life in Fredericton, records reveal that his younger brother's name was George and his sisters were Sadie, Eva, Beatrice, Dorothy, and Margaret. At the time of his enlistment, Oscar was single and working as a laborer in Fredericton. He is described to have had blue eyes as well as a fair complexion. Oscar's service records also suggest that prior to the war he served six years as a member of the 71st Regiment and was five feet eleven inches tall, weighing approximately 165 pounds and belonged to the Baptist church. At the time of his enlistment on September 23, 1914 in Valcartier, Quebec with the 12th Battalion under Lt. Col. Harry McLeod, Private White was 28 years of age before going overseas. He would never return home to Canada.

Wartime Experience

Private Oscar White departed from Valcartier, Quebec for England on October 3, 1914 along with other Fredericton boys aboard the SS Scotian, arriving a little more than a week later. Oscar would spend the winter of 1914 in England training with the 12th Battalion for approximately eight months until being drafted into the newly formed 1st Infantry Battalion from Ontario on August 23, 1915. Like many other Canadian soldiers, Oscar endured some of the worst horrors of the Great War as well as the harsh winter on Salisbury Plain the first year Canadians were in England. Oscar's military service is defined by illnesses, wartime trauma, as well as injuries sustained in the field. Even before leaving England after being drafted into the 1st Battalion he had been admitted to military hospitals at Bristol and Newcastle with a variety of ailments. Typical of many service personnel, Oscar would be treated repeatedly for viral infections that were all too common amongst men and women living in such close and stressful living quarters. Two months after he joined the 1st Canadian infantry battalion he fell sick to painful illnesses that did not stop until a year later. Despite being sick throughout most of his service, he would also suffer from shellshock in the spring of 1916 and return to the field in the Ypres Salient, Belgium only a month after being diagnosed. Almost immediately upon his return Oscar suffered from a gun-shot wound to his left eye forcing him to be readmitted to hospital. Newspapers would indicate that he returned to England for treatment for a few months while in treatment. During his service with his unit attached to the Canadian 1st Division, Oscar was active in the Second Battle of Ypres, the Battle of the Somme and later at Vimy Ridge. Oscar White's fate officially went into question when he was reported wounded and missing on May 3, 1917 in the Villers Au Bois region, Northwest of Arras. His service record initially reported him as being "wounded" and then a month later "missing". Official records presume Oscar to have died of wounds sometime in May, 1917. Private Oscar White was 31 years of age.

Lest We Forget

Oscar White is memorialized and remembered with honor alongside other brave missing soldiers on the Vimy Ridge memorial in Vimy, France. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the highest point of the ridge was chosen as the site of the great memorial bearing the names of approximately 11,000 Canadians who died in France - many of them in the fight for Vimy Ridge - who have no known grave.

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