Jack White (VC)
|Born||23 December 1896
|Died||27 November 1949 (aged 52)
Salford, Greater Manchester
|Buried at||Blackley Jewish Cemetery|
|Years of service||1914 - 1919|
|Unit||King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster)|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
Jack White VC (23 December 1896 – 27 November 1949) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Jack White was born Jacob Weiss in Leeds, Yorkshire, on 23 December 1896 into a Jewish family. After finishing his education, he joined the family business, a waterproofing company. When the First World War broke out, he returned home from a business trip and volunteered for active service with the King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster). Originally assigned to battalion destined for France, he missed the battalion's deployment while home on compassionate leave to attend the death of his father. Instead, he was transferred to the 6th King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster).
The 6th King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster) was attached to the 13th (Western) Division. Originally ordered to Gallipoli, he remained with the battalion through the Gallipoli campaign. Eventually, he and his unit were ordered to join the Tigris Corps, attempting to relieve the Siege of Kut. After the failure of the relief effort, White's unit participated in the counter-offensive in 1917. It was during the 13th Division's crossing of the Diyala River that he earned the Victoria Cross.
White was 20 years old, and a private in the 6th Battalion, The King's Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment, British Army during the First World War when, on 7/8 March 1917 on the Dialah River, Mesopotamia, the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC. This citation was gazetted on 27 June 1917:
War Office, 27th June, 1917.
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officer, Warrant Officer, Non-commissioned Officers and men:—
No. 18105 Pte. Jack White, R. Lanc. R.
For most conspicuous bravery and resource.
This signaller during an attempt to cross a river saw the two Pontoons ahead of him come under heavy machine-gun fire, with disastrous results.
When his own Pontoon had reached midstream, with every man except himself either dead or wounded, finding that he was unable to control the Pontoon, Pte. White promptly tied a telephone wire to the Pontoon, jumped overboard, and towed it to the shore, thereby saving an officer's life and bringing to land the rifles and equipment of the other men in the boat, who were either dead or dying.
Jack White later achieved the rank of Lance-Corporal. Ironically, although he was a Victoria Cross holder, he was not permitted to join the Home Guard during the Second World War. He was denied this because it was claimed his parents had failed to be properly naturalized as British Citizens, despite the fact that he was born in Yorkshire.
After his service, he returned to Manchester and undertook an apprenticeship as a trainee pattern cutter in a local factory. He went on to become General Manager and then Owner before fading health forced him to relinquish his interest and he died in 1949 aged 52.
Having had several owners since, the same factory is now owned and managed by Private Jack White’s Great Grandson. One of few remaining UK garment manufacturers, the factory produces clothing for well-known British brands as well as a line of carefully crafted clothing, named after and inspired by the heroics and military style of Private Jack White V.C.
He was the subject of a comic strip in Victor comic, published in 1987.