15685 Private Thomas White enlisted with 10th (Service) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, Kitchener's New Army, in August/September 1914. After training the Battalion went to ‘France and Flanders' where it was blooded in the Battle of Loos, 1915. By the summer of 1916 twelve battalions of the Regiment were on the Western Front. Despite the massed Divisions, the Somme offensive continued from July into November, with little ground gained by the Allies, although it did relieve the pressure on the French Army at Verdun.
Thomas's Battalion, with 1Brigade, 1st Division, was involved in the Battle for Delville Wood, a three-month struggle to straighten out a vulnerable salient or ‘wedge' in the British Line. It was one of many stages of the slow campaign of attrition to which the Somme offensive was reduced. British forces took Delville Wood early in August, after two weeks of severe fighting, but at the end of the month, a German counter-attack lasting a week came close to regaining it. Delville Wood was remembered for the number of casualties and the supposed destruction of all but a single tree. Thomas died on 30 August in the defence of Delville against this counterattack. His body was not recovered, but he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 5 A and 5 B).
‘Private White ... son of Mrs White, Wheatley, has been killed in action. The Lieutenant commanding his Section writes, ‘He was one of my best men and it will be some consolation to you to know that he died while doing his duty as a man. He went on firing his rifle [after] he was shot through the head'. A comrade-in-arms writes to Mrs White, ‘all the sections that he belonged to send their deepest sympathy ... he died a glorious death and [we] would be highly honoured to have more of his sort amongst them.' (Oxford Chronicle, 8 September 1916.)
Thomas was born in 1896, second son of Albert Charles White, farm labourer, and his wife Martha, both Wheatley-born in 1858. They were living at Blenheim House, Wheatley in 1911, by which time Thomas had become a builder's carter. See also reference to him in the Wheatley in a World at War chapter.