Military Wiki
Sir George Stuart White
Sir George Stuart White
Born (1835-07-06)6 July 1835
Died 24 June 1912(1912-06-24) (aged 76)
Place of birth Low Rock Castle, Portstewart
Place of death Royal Hospital Chelsea, London
Buried at Broughshane Presbyterian Churchyard, County Antrim
Allegiance  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service 1851 - 1905
Rank Field Marshal
Commands held Commander-in-Chief, India
Awards See below
Other work Governor of Gibraltar
Governor of Royal Hospital Chelsea

Field Marshal Sir George Stuart White VC, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, GCVO, (6 July 1835 – 24 June 1912) was an officer of the British Army. He was stationed at Peshawar during the Indian Mutiny and then fought at the Battle of Charasiab in October 1879 and at the Battle of Kandahar in September 1880 during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. For his bravery during these two battles, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He went on to command a brigade during the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1886 and became commander of Quetta District in 1889 in which role he led operations in the Zhob Valley and in Balochistan. He was commander of the forces in Natal at the opening of the Second Boer War and fought at the Battle of Elandslaagte in October 1899. He commanded the garrison at the Siege of Ladysmith: although instructed by General Sir Redvers Buller to surrender the garrison he responded "I hold Ladysmith for the Queen" and held out for another four months before being relieved in February 1900. He finished his career as Governor of Gibraltar and then as Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Early career

White was born at Low Rock Castle, Portstewart, County Londonderry, the son of James White of Whitehall, County Antrim and Frances Ann Stewart (daughter of George Stewart, Surgeon-General to the British Forces in Ireland).[1] He was educated at Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire and later at King William's College on the Isle of Man and then at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.[2] He was commissioned as an ensign in the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot on 4 November 1853.[3]

White was sent to India in 1854 and, having been promoted to lieutenant on 29 January 1855,[4] was stationed at Peshawar during the Indian Mutiny in 1857.[2] He was promoted to captain on 10 July 1863[5] and transferred to the 92nd Regiment of Foot on 4 August 1863.[6] He returned to England before being further promoted to major on 24 December 1863.[7] After five years in England he went back to India with his regiment in 1868.[7] He was given command of his battalion in 1875 and then fought at the Battle of Charasiab in October 1879 and at the Battle of Kandahar in September 1880 during the Second Anglo-Afghan War.[7]

The Victoria Cross

He was 44 years old when the following deeds took place in Afghanistan for which he was awarded the VC:

For conspicuous bravery during the engagement at Charasiah on 6 October 1879, when, finding that the artillery and rifle fire failed to dislodge the enemy from a fortified hill which it was necessary to capture, Major White led an attack upon it in person. Advancing with two companies of his regiment; and climbing from one steep ledge to another, he came upon a body of the enemy, strongly posted, and outnumbering his force by about 8 to 1. His men being much exhausted, and immediate action being necessary, Major White took a rifle, and, going on by himself, shot the leader of the enemy. This act so intimidated the rest that they fled round the side of the hill, and the position was won.

Again, on 1 September 1880, at the battle of Candahar, Major White, in leading, the final charge, under a heavy fire from the enemy, who held a strong position and were supported by two guns, rode straight up to within a few yards of them, and seeing the guns, dashed forward and secured one, immediately after which the enemy retired.[8]

Later career

The Relief of Ladysmith. Sir George White greets Major Hubert Gough on 28 February 1900. Painting by John Henry Frederick Bacon (1868-1914)

Promoted to lieutenant colonel on 2 March 1881, White was briefly Military Secretary to the Viceroy and Governor-General of India before being given command of the 2nd Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders in October 1881.[9] He then joined the staff in Egypt as assistant-adjutant and quartermaster-general in February 1885[10] with promotion to colonel on 2 March 1885.[11]

In September 1885 White was given command of a brigade of the Madras Army[12] and led it as the 2nd Brigade of the British Burma Division[13] during the Third Anglo-Burmese War in November 1885.[14] Promoted to local major-general on 1 April 1886[15] he led the subsequent occupation of Burma as Commander of the Upper Burma Field Force in Summer 1886.[16] Promoted to the substantive rank of major general on 1 July 1887,[17] he was given command of Quetta District in April 1889[18] and led operations in the Zhob Valley and in Balochistan.[7] He became Commander-in-Chief, India with the local rank of lieutenant general in April 1893,[19] and having been promoted to substantive rank of lieutenant general on 1 April 1895,[20] he became Quartermaster-General to the Forces in October 1898.[21]

White became commander of the forces in Natal in September 1899[22] at the opening of the Second Boer War and fought at the Battle of Elandslaagte in October 1899.[23] He then withdrew to Ladysmith where he took command of the garrison during the Siege of Ladysmith: when his position there became untenable he was instructed by General Sir Redvers Buller to destroy the guns and surrender the garrison on the best terms he could. White responded "I hold Ladysmith for the Queen" and held out for another four months before being relieved in February 1900 - for this he was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George later that year.[24]

White became Governor of Gibraltar in May 1900[25] and, in that role, was promoted to full general on 9 October 1900[26] and to field marshal on 8 April 1903.[27] In 1905 he was appointed to a Commission of Inquiry into contracts placed with private contractors during the Second Boer War.[28] He was Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea from 17 June 1905[29] until his death there on 24 June 1912.[30] He was buried at Broughshane, a village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.[31] A statue of White is currently located at Portland Place, London,[32] while the Sir George White Memorial Flute Band still operates in Broughshane, Ballymena.[33]

White was also honorary colonel of the 2nd Volunteer Battalion the Prince Albert's (Somersetshire Light Infantry)[34] and, later, of the Gordon Highlanders.[35]


In 1874 White married Amelia Baly, daughter of the Venerable Joseph Baly, Archdeacon of Calcutta, with whom he had one son and two daughters.[7] His son Jack White, after service in the British Army, became an Irish republican and socialist who co-founded the Irish Citizen Army along with James Connolly and James Larkin.[36]

The medal

White's Victoria Cross is displayed at the Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen, Scotland.[31]



  1. Durand, p. 9
  2. 2.0 2.1 Heathcote, p. 295
  3. "No. 21491". 4 November 1853. 
  4. "No. 21719". 25 May 1855. 
  5. "No. 22752". 10 July 1863. 
  6. "No. 22759". 4 August 1863. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Heathcote, p. 296
  8. 8.0 8.1 "No. 24981". 3 June 1881. 
  9. "No. 25096". 18 April 1882. 
  10. "No. 25469". 12 May 1885. 
  11. "No. 25448". 3 March 1885. 
  12. "No. 25561". 23 February 1886. 
  13. "No. 25599". 22 June 1886. 
  14. "No. 25599". 22 June 1886. 
  15. "No. 25573". 30 March 1886. 
  16. "No. 25735". 2 September 1887. 
  17. "No. 25761". 25 November 1887. 
  18. "No. 25964". 13 August 1889. 
  19. "No. 26405". 23 May 1893. 
  20. "No. 26626". 21 May 1895. 
  21. "No. 27014". 14 October 1898. 
  22. "No. 27117". 15 September 1899. 
  23. Heathcote, p. 297
  24. 24.0 24.1 "No. 27306". 19 April 1901. 
  25. "No. 27198". 1 June 1900. 
  26. "No. 27236". 9 October 1900. 
  27. "No. 27547". 28 April 1903. 
  28. "No. 27812". 30 June 1905. 
  29. "No. 27813". 4 July 1905. 
  30. "No. 28634". 9 August 1912. 
  31. 31.0 31.1 "Grave location for holders of the Victoria Cross". Retrieved 25 August 2013. 
  32. "Statue in Portland Place". Art & Architecture. Retrieved 25 August 2013. 
  33. "Sir George White band prepares for Broughshane Remembrance Festival". 10 November 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2013. 
  34. "No. 26520". 8 June 1894. 
  35. "No. 26884". 20 August 1897. 
  36. "Captain Jack White (1879-1946)". Retrieved 25 August 2013. 
  37. "No. 26381". 10 March 1893. 
  38. "No. 26008". 1 January 1890. 
  39. "No. 26867". 25 June 1897. 
  40. "No. 25650". 26 November 1886. 
  41. "No. 24944". 1 March 1881. 
  42. "No. 26928". 11 January 1898. 
  43. "No. 27192". 15 May 1900. 
  44. "No. 27811". 27 June 1905. 


External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Frederick Roberts
Commander-in-Chief, India
1893 – 1898
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Nairne
Preceded by
Sir Richard Harrison
Quartermaster-General to the Forces
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Clarke
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Robert Biddulph
Governor of Gibraltar
1900 – 1905
Succeeded by
Sir Frederick Forestier-Walker
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Henry Norman
Governor, Royal Hospital Chelsea
Succeeded by
Sir Neville Lyttelton

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