George White, captain of Exeter City reserves before the Great War, became the first of the club’s players to die in the conflict when he was killed in October 1914 at the age of thirty. Although he did not play for the first team, he is recorded in this section of the archive in common with all thirteen Exeter City players who lost their lives in events related to the war of 1914-18.
With the first-team playing professionally in the Southern League, George was first recorded as appearing for City’s reserve team in the Plymouth and District League during 1910/11. By 1913/14 he was captain as the team finished third behind Royal Naval Barracks and Plymouth Argyle reserves. Babbacombe and Torquay Town, predecessors clubs of Torquay United, finished 6th and 10th respectively. He would have played alongside the generation of City’s amateurs who were to perish in the Great War: Fred Bailey, Edwin Clark, Fred Hunt, Billy Stoneman and John Webb.
Marrying Ada Rose Chaplin during 1914, and living in Portland Street in Exeter, he had already served in the army having been registered at the Higher Barracks in the 1911 census. Posted to the Western Front in the early stages of the war, he was killed at Neuve Chapelle on 30 October 1914 while serving in the Devonshire Regiment 1st Battalion. Former Grecians team mate Fred Bailey (later to die at the Somme in 1916), a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps, was at the field hospital when the injured George was admitted.
The Western Times of 3 December 1914 reported that ‘at one time he was captain of the Plymouth and District League team, and was very popular with all the players, professional and amateur. Of splendid physique, he was a most fruitful defender for the Club, and was always of a happy, genial disposition.’
George White is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, on a memorial near the chapel inside the St Sidwell’s Community Centre, and on a plaque at St James’ Park. His widow Ada died in Exeter in 1946.
For more information about George White’s war service and death see his entry in the Killed in Action section of the Archive