Lance Corporal Gordon Alexander Whyte

A white circle with a glove crossing it's fingers and the words: Made Possible with Heritage Fund.This man is a candidate for addition to Keighley's Supplementary Volume under the proposal to add further names in 2024, the centenary of the original roll of honour.
Click here to go to the Main page
Supported by the National Lottery's Heritage Fund, our project intends to submit about 120 names for peer review to add them to the book which is kept at Keighley Library. The unveiling of the book with it's new names is planned for November 2024, 100 years after the unveiling of the original war memorial.

Lance Corporal. 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment. Service no. 7720.

A darkened image from a 1915 newspaper of a man's head and shoulders. He is wearing Army dress uniform with a white collar.

Lance Corporal Gordon Whyte.

Early life:

Gordon's parents were John Giffard Whyte and Annie Whyte née Miller who were married at the High Church at Paisley in Renfrew, Scotland on 20th January 1870. John was a gas stoker and they were living at 52, Hill Street in Bingley in the 1881 census, before Gordon was born in Bingley on 15th February 1886, with his birth being registered in Keighley in the first quarter of that year.
Gordon was baptised at All Saints Church in Bingley on 8th September 1889 along with his siblings Evelyn, Thomas and Ellen Elizabeth. The baptismal record spells their surname 'White.'

Their mother Annie died aged 43 about a year later, and her death was registered at Keighley in the third quarter of 1890.

In the 1891 census Gordon Alexander was aged five and at school and they were living at 18, Bradley Street in Bingley. John was a 43 year old widower and employed as a gas stoker. Also living here were Annie M. aged 25 and a home keeper; William F. aged 20 and a plate layer for the Midland Railway Company; Elizabeth aged 18 and a worsted spinner; John P.M. aged 16 and a stone mason's apprentice; Ellen E. aged 12 and a worsted spinner; Thomas aged 10 and a worsted spinner; Evelyn aged 8 and a scholar.

John was remarried a year after Annie's death, on 26th September 1891 to Sarah Ann Richardson at All Saint's Church in Bingley. John was a 43 year old widower of 18, Bradley Street and Annie was a 49 year old widow of 21, Johnson Street in Bingley.

By 1901 they had moved to 16 Calvert Street in Bingley. John was 52 and still a gas stoker; John P.M. was 25 and a stone mason; Tom was 20 and a cabinet maker; Evelyn was 17 and a pawnbroker's apprentice; Gordon A. was 15 and a worsted factory hand. Also living here was Edward D. Richardson a 25 year old wheelwright and apparently a stepson of John.
Oddly last on the list, was Gordon's stepmother Sarah A. Whyte aged 60, not employed but probably looking after the family home.

Previous Army service:

Gordon had joined the Army on 15th December 1903 at Halifax, which would have been the Wellesley Barracks. This was for three years with the colours and nine years in the reserves. He stated he was 18 years and one month old and working as a comber. He also stated that he was already with the 3rd Battalion West Riding (Militia.) His medical details at the time were: 5 feet 7 inches tall, 119 lbs weight, 32 inch chest, fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair and his religion was Church of England. He was declared fit for service on 14th December 1903 and approved for attestation to the regiment at Halifax and issued with the service number 7720.
A form completed by the Adjutant to the Officer in Charge on the 33rd Regimental District for the 15th December 1903 states that Gordon was 17 year and 9 months old (his true age) and that he had been of good character whilst in the Militia. Gordon served at Halifax from 15th December 03 to 7th April 1904, then at York from 8th April 04 to 4th October 05 and finally to Lichfield the next day.
A later document states he was promoted to Lance Corporal on 18th October 1904 and received a good conduct badge on 15th December 1905. The company defaulter book confirms he had no defaults on his record.
He completed his terms of service on 14th December 1906. He was 9th on the list of Lance Corporals and had a Musketry classification of First Class. This placed him in the First Class Army Reserve until termination of his service on the same date in 1915. His outgoing medical described him as 5 feet 8 inches tall and with a 37 inch chest. Clearly the Army had done him some physical good. His intended place of residence was 34, Bar Lane, Riddlesden, near Keighley.

Civilian life:

By the 1911 census things had changed considerably for Gordon as he had left home and was one of three people who were boarding in Keighley with the Spedding family at 39, Church Street in Keighley. Gordon was a labourer working on machine manufacturing for George Hattersley.

War service:

For a time it seems that Gordon was living with his sister at 52, Norman Street in Bingley when war broke out.
As a reservist, Gordon was called to the colours at Halifax on 5th August 1914 with the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment. Just five days later he was off to France with them, arriving on 10th August. He served overseas for 15 days before he was killed in action on 24th August.

Major McLeod Private Diary:

1914-15 WO-95-1552-1
War diary, 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment.
Extracts from the private Diary of Major Macleod, who commanded the 2nd Battalion, West Riding Regiment, after Lieut. Colonel Gibbs was wounded.

13th. Embarked in S.S. Gloucestershire about 3 p.m.
14th. Sailed about 1 a.m. Sea calm.
15th. Anchored in estuary about 11 a.m. alongside quay about 3 p.m. Raining hard. Disembarked and remained for night in shed on quay. Several transport carts damaged in unloading.
16th. Paraded early and marched to Rest Camp 7 miles out. Wet at first, finer later. Paraded at 9 pm. Very dark.
17th. Got most of baggage on to train about 2 a.m. Train left at 2.30a.m. Detrained at LANDRECIES and marched to M ____ 6 miles off, which was reached at 8 p.m. Billeted. Inhabitants most kind.
18th. Lovely day. People seem quietly confident. Country lovely, with well cut thorn hedges and well to do looking farms. Very like the South of England.
19th. Lovely weather. Company route marches, firing and attack practices.
20th. Water getting rather scarce. Orders to march received. The battalion was addressed by Major General Sir C. Ferguson.
21st. Very hot. Marched at 7 a.m. Arrived about 3 p.m. at H......
22nd. Very hot indeed. Marched about 7.30 a.m. Arrived at B.... at H...... about noon and then ordered to go into billets
23rd. Firing began about noon, Two Companies sent about 1 p.m. to support West Kent Regiment. Whole Battalion out at 2 p.m. round the bridge over the canal at St GHISLAIN and exposed to heavy gun fire for several hours. C. Company in reserve just S. of canal.
About 6 p.m. I went with this Company, Strafford and Healing to take up another position, but after wandering all night and losing our way, we lay down in the open till dawn near the K.0.S.B's.
24th. We marched at daybreak to WASMES and found the battalion, about 5 a.m. occupying trenches on steep wooded ground. Whole battalion subjected for some hours to an awful gun fire. Splendidly supported by West Kent who suffered serious losses. The Germans ran up their guns by hand to within about 600 yards of a loopholed wall, which they blew to pieces. The battalion failed to get the order to retire, though this had been sent out in quadruplicate. It held its position for 1 hours after the order had been sent out. Many hit and missing. I got back to the town about 2 or 3 p.m. and found it practically deserted, except for a small rearguard on the Railway bridge. The town was full of stragglers. I finally picked up Count Gleichen and some of the 14th Brigade and afterwards General Cuthbert and the K.0.S.B's. We collected the remains of the Battalion, marched for several miles then bivouacked.
25th. We marched off again Southwards in the dark and for many hours in the heat and reached LE CATEAU in the afternoon where we met a great number of French Cavalry. Orders to march at 3.30 a.m.

Yorkshire Evening Post Wednesday 30th September 1914, page 3:

News has been received at Keighley today of the death at Wasmes, in Belgium, of Lance-Corporal Whyte, of the 2nd Battalion West Riding Regiment. A reservist and a single man, he was a native of Bingley, but had resided for some time in Keighley. He was killed in action.

Yorkshire Evening Post Thursday 1st October 1914, page 3:

Lance Corporal Gordon Whyte (Keighley), of the 2nd Battalion West Riding Regiment, was killed in action at Wasmes on August 24th.


Lance Corporal Whyte's body appears to have been buried in Wasmes with several other men. Some of these graves may have been the ones exhumed by the Germans and placed in Hautrage Cemetery in 1918. Gordon's body was exhumed on 7th February 1921 and reinterred in grave 6 of row D in plot I at Hautrage Cemetery, along with 50 other men from the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment). All of these men were killed in the early weeks of the war.
Gordon's headstone also states 'Their Glory Shall Not Be Blotted Out.' This indicates that he's buried somewhere in the cemetery but the precise location has not been confirmed.

Aftermath for the family:

The Soldier's Effects record shows that his father John received £3 4s 0d of Gordon's remaining Army pay on 12th January 1915.

It appears that his sister Elizabeth was his nominated next of kin and she seems to have received his personal effects which were sent on 23rd July 1919. Her details were that she was now Elizabeth Atkinson living at 11, Bengal Street in Keighley. As their father John had died in 1917 Elizabeth received the war gratuity payment of £5 on 23rd July 1919.

The relatives' form shows Gordon was not married, had no children, and both his parents were deceased. His brothers were William aged 49 of 61 Cavendish Street, Leeds; Tom aged 42 was living in America; Evelyn aged 37 was living in Carnforth in Lancashire.
His sisters were Elizabeth aged 47, living at 18, Park Terrace in Keighley, Nellie aged 40, living in Sherburn, East Riding of Yorkshire.
Also a half-blood sister called Annie, living in Bingley.

On 2nd June 1918, Gordon's brother Evelyn made a claim to the no. 1 Infantry Records Office at York, for Gordon's 'Mons Star.' He enclosed a copy of Gordon's mobilization paper which had been kept by his older sister (probably Elizabeth)

On 11th June 1918 Evelyn sent another letter to the Infantry Records Office at York in connection to a request for the 1914 Bronze Star. They had responded to her initial request, saying that his father was his next of kin.
Evelyn made a declaration that their father John had died at 11, Byrl Street in Bingley on the 24th February 1917 and was interred at Bingley Cemetery on February 27th (he was 68.) She then stated she was now an orphan.

Evelyn made a medal claim in 1919, but the document is too faint to show further details. This may have been for the 1914 Star plus the clasp and rose, to which Gordon was entitled as an 'Old Contemptible.'

Elizabeth received a 'Small Book' in Gordon's personal effects at 18, Park Terrace (off Dalton Lane) on 20th September 1923. This may have been his Army Small Book.
She received the Victory Medal on 10th March 1921 and the British War Medal on 7th September 1921.
She would also have received the 1914 Star, plus Clasp and Rose, but we're not sure when. It's likely she received a bronze war memorial plaque and King's certificate inscribed with Gordon's name.

Information sources:

Free BMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 about Gordon Alexander White
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910
1891 England Census
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920
Keighley News archives at Keighley Library
British Newspaper Archive
National Archives - Great War Diary WO-95-1552-1
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in the Great War
British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
Scotland, Select Marriages, 1561-1910
1881 England Census
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment

Please verfiy you are not a computer program by answering the following question to submit your comment *