Club historian David Bull remembers Second World War Saint, Charles White, who has died aged 98. Charles is pictured above in the centre of the back row, alongside his Southampton teammates in 1940/41.
The death, two summers ago, of 99-year-old Arthur House, meant that Charles White, his successor in Southampton’s goal of 1940/41, became the oldest living ex-Saint.
We are sad to report that, following a short illness, Charles has died in his Andover care home, four months short of his 99th birthday.
He came from a footballing family. In 1887, his grandfather, Alfred Fry, played for St Mary’s in the club’s first two competitive matches, ever: the opening rounds of the Hampshire Junior Cup, a trophy that the Saints would go on to win. In the 1920s, Alfred’s son-in-law, John White – Charles’s father – would represent Hampshire and spend two seasons on Portsmouth’s books.
Charles would have just the one season in the Saints’ goal before enlisting and being posted to East Africa to set up Flying Boat Command, initially in Kenya, latterly in the Seychelles.
In 2018, Charles had a double-reunion day with his war-time club: a tour of the stadium hosted by supporter relations, followed by a visit to Arthur House’s Shirley home, arranged by the club historians.
The historians then introduced both of these 1940 goalkeepers to the Premier League’s education project on professional footballers who served in the Second World War. Both were among the 11 veterans duly filmed.
Charles reminisced about the flying boats heading out from the Seychelles “to patrol the Indian
Ocean in particular and make sure there were no Japanese submarines underneath trying to get into Europe.” Mission accomplished.
CHARLES JOHN WHITE
8th October 1922 – 9th June 2021
Photos courtesy of Duncan Holley and Ian White