PRIVATE THOMAS FRANCIS WHITE
LONDON REGIMENT ROYAL FUSILIERS
13TH SEPTEMBER 1916 AGE 40
BURIED: ABBEVILLE COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, FRANCE
The quotation marks indicate that these are the dead man's words. Thomas White died of wounds in hospital in Abbeville. Quite when he spoke or wrote the words we'll never know. Who chose them for his inscription? Well it looks like his younger brother, Sydney White, he's certainly the person who signed for it and there seems to be something rather gruffly brotherly about it.
The White family lived at 11 Burton Street, London WC1. Father, Thomas White who died in 1918, was a printer's machine minder, Thomas was a compositor and Sydney was a monotype operator. Thomas Junior joined the 1st (City of London) Battalion. At first I thought he was old for a soldier: he was 38 in 1914 when the war broke out. But as from 23 October 1914, 38 was the upper limit for volunteering and from 31 May 1915 this rose to 40. The upper age limit after conscription was introduced in January 1916 was 41, and by April 1918 this had been extended to 50.
29,570 men and women between the ages of 40 and 50 are commemorated by the War Graves Commission, and 3,813 between the ages of 51 and 60. 606 died between the ages of 61 and 70, one of whom was General Kitchener who was 65 when his ship was sunk in the North Sea. There are 21 who were between the ages of 71 and 80, and four who were over 80, including Field Marshall Roberts who was 85.