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© Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

The Great War Centenary 1917 - Exhibition

Boomtown - From Front Line to White Lund

King’s Own in Mesopotamia

The 6th Battalion King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment was raised in 1914 as a result of Lord Kitchener’s appeal for 100,000 volunteers and served in Gallipoli between July and December 1915, when it was withdrawn to Egypt along with the remainder of the Allied Force.

In 1914 an Expeditionary Force from India had been sent to Persia and Mesopotamia (Iran and Iraq) to protect oil supplies. After initial success the force under General Townshend was defeated at the Battle of Ctesiphon, near Baghdad and retreated to Kut where, in December 1915, it was besieged by the Turks.

In February 1916 the 6th Battalion left Egypt as part of the 13th Division which aimed to relieve Kut and, after landing at Basra, proceeded to the advanced base at Amara. The relieving force was defeated three times and on 29th April 1916 Kut fell to the Turks. Ten thousand British and Indian troops surrendered of whom over six thousand died in the desert whilst prisoners of war.

In difficult conditions the British force remained in Mesopotamia, slowly making advances, and early in 1917 Kut was eventually re-taken. The Turks continued to be pushed back and, in March 1917, Baghdad was occupied. The 6th King’s Own was present at the crossing of the Dialah River, during which Private White, of the battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross.

With the loss of Baghdad the Turks continued to retreat and the final actions took place in the spring of 1918 with 6th King’s Own pushing as far north as Kirkuk before the weather again became too hot for action.


“The men were beginning to feel the effects of the climate. Small-pox, malaria, sand-fly fever and Baghdad boils were endemic, while cholera, typhus, scurvy and heat stroke were epidemic. Even at that comparatively cool time of the year the battalion lost an officer and forty-two other ranks in under a month with no shot fired.”

“Nights were bitterly cold and days insufferably hot; the dust and glare of the sun combined with the flies were worse than anything suffered at Gallipoli. The flies were tiny and settled on eyelids, lashes, lips and nostrils. A hand passed across a sweaty brow would roll them up in little balls.”


Private Jack White VC
Accession Number: KO1017/109

Victoria Cross awarded to 18105 Private Jack White
6th Battalion King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment

Jack White was born Jacob Weiss on 23rd December 1896 in Leeds, the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant father and British mother. The family subsequently moved to the Hightown district of Manchester. At the outbreak of war he was in Sweden, but returned, enlisted in the 6th (Service) Battalion King’s Own and served throughout the war in the Middle East - at Gallipoli and in Mesopotamia (Iraq). He was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry during an attempted crossing of the Dialah River by Captain S. Patterson and 60 men of the Battalion, including White, on the night of 7/8th March 1917. The award was published in the ‘London Gazette’ of 27th June 1917:

“For most conspicuous bravery and resource. This signaller during an attempt to cross a river saw the two pontoons ahead of him come under heavy machine-gun fire, with disastrous results. When his own pontoon had reached mid-stream, with every man except himself either dead or wounded, finding that he was unable to control the pontoon Private White promptly tied a telephone wire to the pontoon, jumped overboard, and towed it to the shore, thereby saving the Officer’s life and bringing to land the rifles and equipment of the other men in the boat, who were either dead or dying.”

He returned home to a hero’s welcome and was one of only five Jewish men to win the Victoria Cross up to 1939.

After the war he lived in Broughton, Salford, and worked in the textile business. He died on 27th November 1949, aged 54, and was buried with full military honours in Blackley Jewish Cemetery near Manchester.


© Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

© 2017 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum