Jesse White

Date of birth:                  15th April 1890Poppies
Place of birth:                Southampton
Date of marriage:         1914
Place of marriage:       Southampton
Rank:                                 Fireman
Regiment / Division:   Mercantile Marine
Battalion/Ship:              H.M.H.S. “Glenart Castle” (Southampton)
Died:                                   26th February 1918 aged 28 years
Death Location:            At Sea

 Life before the War

Jesse was born on the 15th April 1890 in Southampton, his parents were Jesse, born 24th August 1863 and Frances Martha E nee Young, born 1867, they married on 7th September 1885.

He had 1 sister Gladys b  1899 and  5 brothers Jesse Middleton b.1886 d.1886, William Henry b.1888, Alfred Charles Cecil b.11th September 1892, Charles Middleton b.22nd December 1894 d.27th December 1894, Charles Thomas Edwin b.1st May 1896 and Reginald b.1908.

In the 1891 and 1911 census, the family were living at 19 Melbourne Street, St Mary’s, Southampton. In 1901, they were living at 22 Melbourne Street. Living at 19, was Frances mother Sarah, who was looking after grandson, Alfred White.

Jesse was a Ships Fireman (1891) and Ships Stoker 1901 – William was working for the London and South West Railway as a Messenger Boy.1911 – Alfred was a Sailor with Merchant Service and Charles was working as a Junior Clerk.

Jesse married Helena Mary Penny in 1914, Southampton. They had a son Lionel Charles who was born 1916 and died 1916. They also had a daughter Joyce R born 1917. Helena was living at 4, Chapel Road, Southampton, when her husband died.


War Service

Jesse was serving aboard the “Glenart Castle” when he died from an attack by a German Submarine. A nearby American destroyer (US Parker) came to the rescue and picked up 9 survivors from the freezing water. One of the survivors was Jesse White who was too weak and hypothermic to hang onto the rope thrown to him. He drifted into the ship’s propellers, suffering horrific injuries and died on board the ship.

Further research showed that Jesse was buried in an unmarked grave in Southampton Old Cemetery with his 3 month old son Lionel, who died in 1916.

Jesse is Remembered with Honour at the Southampton Old Cemetery, Hampshire. He is also remembered on the Tower Hill Memorial, London.

Southampton Old Cemetary

Tower Hill Memorial Register

“White, Frmn. Jesse. H.M.H.S. “Glenart Castle” (Southampton). Drowned as a result of an attack by an enemy submarine,
26th Feb., 1918. Age 28. Son of Francis and Jessie White; husband of Helena Mary White (nee Penny), of 4, Chapel Rd.,
St. Mary’s, Southampton. Born at Southampton”.

National Roll of the Great War

“White, J., Fireman, Mercantile Service.

He volunteered in August 1915, and served in H.M.H.S. “Galatea”, “Gloucester Castle” and “Glenart Castle” on the high seas. These vessels were engaged in conveying wounded home from Malta, Alexandria, and other Eastern ports. He was on board the “Galatea” when she was mined, and was also torpedoed whilst serving on board the “Gloucester Castle”, but was fortunately rescued. He lost his life however, when the “Glenart Castle” was torpedoed on February 26th, 1918. He was entitled to the General Service and Mercantile Marine War Medals.

4, Chapel Road, Southampton”


Glenhart Castle

H.M.S. Hospital Ship Glenhart Castle

Historical Information – H.M.H.S. “Glenart Castle”


“At about four in the morning, February 26th, 1918, when in the neighbourhood of Lundy Island, outward bound, she was struck by a torpedo.   She had all her Red Cross lights burning brightly.   There could be no mistaking her.   She sank in five minutes.  So quickly had the disaster come that several of the boats which were being lowered could not be cast off in time and were dragged down with the sinking ship.  Practically all the crew, medical officers, and nurses, were precipitated into the water, many of them to cling to rafts that had been put over the side.   The submarine was seen to come up, she passed within 50 feet of some of the rafts, two officers being visible in the conning tower.   About twelve hours later some survivors were picked up from the rafts by an American destroyer and a French vessel.   Out of the 200 men and women in the ship 38 only were saved.   It is believed that the submarine attacked the survivors in some of the boats or rafts, for bodies were found with wounds on them that could only have been inflicted by firearms”

(From ‘The Union-Castle and the War, 1914-1919)




Researched by Becky Lonergan 2013






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