An Australian at Waterloo: Lieutenant Andrew Douglas White

The Battle of Waterloo, 1815
William Sadler II [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

June 18th, 2015, is the bicentennary of The Battle of Waterloo. Unfortunately circumstances and “the tyranny of distance” prevent me from attending any of the events being held in Europe and England to mark this day, though there is an event being held closer to home tonight at the aptly named The Hero of Waterloo, the oldest existing public house (pub) in Sydney.

However, I thought I would make my own personal commemoration of this day in history by way of a Waterloo post and went searching for an Australian connection to this battle. I’d expected the usual ones: veterans of Waterloo transported as convicts or arriving as free settlers; serving soldiers being posted to the colony; suburbs, streets, landmarks and buildings named for the battle, such as the aforementioned pub, but I wasn’t expecting to find an Australian who was actually there on the battlefield. Imagine my excitement when I found that a Lieutenant Andrew Douglas White fought at Waterloo and came through unscathed.

Andrew Douglas White was born in Sydney Town in 1793. He was the illegitimate son of convict, Rachel Turner, and First Fleet naval surgeon, John White, who later became Surgeon-General for the whole colony of New South Wales.

While some sources say that John White took his fifteen month old son with him when he returned to England in 1794, other sources quote that Andrew was sent to England when he was six years old.

In 1812 Andrew joined the army as a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers and was promoted to first lieutenant in 1813, the same year he was posted to the Continent with the British Army.

At Waterloo Andrew served as the junior officer of the Royal Engineer staff and afterwards continued to serve as part of the Army of Occupation until 1818.

In 1822, Andrew returned to Sydney to be reunited with his mother whom he hadn’t seen since childhood. He remained in Australia for the next two years, then returned to England. He received another promotion in 1826 to second captain and was put on half-pay in 1831.

Andrew returned to Sydney in 1833, married in 1835, but sadly died in November, 1837. His Waterloo medal, which he received in 1816, was willed to his mother, who only outlived him by a year.

Andrew Douglas White is buried in the Liverpool Pioneer Cemetery, New South Wales. His chest tomb bears the following inscription:


The only Australian at Waterloo, he is also considered to be Australia's first returned serviceman. I'm sure a few glasses will be raised to his memory at The Hero of Waterloo tonight!

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