Samuel and Elizabeth had seven children, two of whom were killed in the First World War. Reginald was the second youngest of the family. He was born on 1st July 1892. He had three brothers and three sisters. Egbert was born in 1881, Eva/Ella in 1883, Grace in 1886, Sidney in 1888, Nora in 1889 and Ralph in 1897. The family originally came from the Great Yarmouth area where Samuel was a licensed victualler. Between 1889 and 1891 they moved to live near the Turnpike Cottages in Swardeston, near Norwich. Samuel had changed jobs and was working as a railway signalman. The two youngest sons were born in Swardeston and both baptised there. Reginald was baptised on 4th September 1892.
When Reginald was 7 years old his mother Elizabeth died. Her death was registered in the Autumn of 1899. His elder sister Eva became her father’s housekeeper and looked after Sidney, Nora, Reginald and Ralph.
In 1901 Samuel was still working as a railway signalman. On the night of the Census he was in a signal box at Swainsthorpe and Eva was with the children at Town Cottages, The Common, Swardeston. Grace was living with her grandmother in Great Yarmouth. Egbert had enlisted with The Buffs in 1900 and was training to be a soldier in Sandgate. He went on to serve in South Africa and France before being discharged in 1916. In 1919 he was working in London and living in Marylebone.
In 1903 Samuel remarried. His wife, Alice, was the widow of Charles Brighton and was eighteen years younger than Samuel. About the time of the marriage, the family moved to live in Saxlingham Thorpe and Samuel began working as an agricultural farm labourer. In 1911 Reginald and Ralph were still living at home. Reginald was eighteen years old and was working as a farm labourer. There were eleven people living in house including Samuel’s step children, his grandchildren and children of his second marriage.
Reginald enlisted in the 4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment in St. Pancras, Middlesex on 25th January 1915. His service number was 18952. He transferred to the 3rd Battalion, Norfolk Regiment and then on 9th November 1915 to the Border Regiment.
At the time that he enlisted he was working as an hotel porter at the Northern Hotel, Kings Cross, London. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 9 stones 6 pounds. He was said to have perfect vision.
He arrived in France on 30th December 1915, as part of the 7th Battalion Border Regiment. Arthur Emms from Saxlingham and also in the Border Regiment but in the 8th Battalion arrived in France on the same day. Reginald’s service number was changed to 23169.
In January 1916 when Reginald had newly arrived in France his battalion was in a rest camp near St. Omer. Until 7th February 1916 the soldiers were involved in training exercises, learning about signalling, machine gunning, bomb throwing and gas. They played football matches against other companies. On 20th January they played a match against 10th Manchester Regiment and lost and again on 27th January they had a match with the Sherwood Foresters.
On 7th February they moved to be part of the Divisional Reserve at Poperinghe, which was near the front line in Belgium. Reginald was killed in action on Wednesday 16th February 1916. He like his brother has no known grave. Reginald is remembered on the Ypres Memorial known as the Menin Gate.
His brother Ralph was killed four months earlier on Wednesday 13th October 1915.
Reginald and his brother Ralph are also remembered on Newton Flotman war memorial which is in the local church.The village of Newton Flotman adjoins that of Saxlingham Thorpe, being separated only by the river Tas.
In 1919 his father and step mother were still living in Saxlingham Thorpe along with his half brother Alfred. His sister Grace Wilford( nee White) had married and lived in Holloway, London and as previously stated Egbert was in Marylebone. The whereabouts of his other brothers and sisters were not listed on the application made by his father for the scroll and plaque from the War Office.
Census records: 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
UK soldiers who died in the Great War 1914-18
Papers from Saxlingham Nethergate Church Chest now deposited at Norfolk Record Office
British Army WW1 Service Records (Egbert White)
British Army WW1 Service Records.
British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914-1920
Michael Wilkinson, Newton Flotman.