The Gordons


Field Marshal Sir George Stuart White VC GCB OM GCSI GCMG GCIE GCVO


Sir George White is best known as the commander of Ladysmith during the South African War of 1899-1902. His posting in 1899 was as Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces in Natal. His handling of the 4-month siege of Ladysmith has been much criticised, but the Boer leader, Joubert, also committed errors of judgement.

1835 born 6th July in County Londonderry
1853 entered the 27th Inniskilling Regiment
1857 Indian Mutiny
1863 exchanged to 92nd as Captain
1874 married Miss Amelia Bayley, daughter of the archdeacon of Calcutta
1879-80 Afghan War. 2nd in command 92nd
1880-81 India. Military Secretary to the Viceroy
1881- 85 Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders
1884-5 Sudan Expedition
1885 Egypt. AA and QMG
1885 Madras. Brigadier-General
1885-86 Commanding Brigade in Burma Expedition
1886-89 In Command of Upper Burma Field Force
1889-93 Bengal. Major-General
1890 Zhob Field Force
1893-98 Commander-in-Chief India
1897-1912 Colonel of the Gordon Highlanders
1898-99 QMG HQ of Army
1899-1900 GOC Natal Field Force. Lieut-General
1900 28th Feb. Relief of Ladysmith
1900-04 Governor of Gibraltar
1903 Field Marshal
1912 died on 24th June.

White was one of the heroes of the British Army. He entered the army as an ensign in the 27th Foot and served in the Indian Mutiny. In 1879 he won the Victoria Cross for two separate actions, one at the Battle of Charasiah on 6th October. The Gazette described his deeds thus:

Finding that the artillery and rifle fire failed to dislodge the enemy from a fortified hill which it was necessary to capture, Major White led an attack upon it in person. Advancing with two companies of his regiment and climbing from one steep ledge to another, he came upon a body of the enemy, strongly posted, and outnumbering his force by about eight to one. His men being much exhausted, and immediate action being necessary, Major White took a rifle and, going on by himself, shot the leader of the enemy. This act so intimidated the rest that they fled round the side of the hill, and the position was won.

The other action was at the battle of Kandahar on 1st September 1880. White led the final charge and personally captured one of the two guns held by the enemy. This caused the tribesmen to retire.

The photo shows White in the full dress uniform of a Colonel of the Gordon Highlanders.


Regimental details | Commanding Officers




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by Stephen Luscombe