White, Burton M H

Burton William Henderson White was born April 19, 1925 in Cullman County, Alabama to John Burton White and Mae Belle (Root) White. Both of his parents were born in Alabama. Burton had two younger sisters and five younger brothers. In 1930, the family was living in Athens, Limestone County, Alabama where his father worked as an automobile mechanic. By 1940, the family had relocated to a farm in Rogersville, Lauderdale County, Alabama. Burton dropped out of school after the seventh grade to work on the family farm. When he registered for the draft in April 1943, Burton’s family had relocated again to Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama and he was working at Anderson Drug Company.

Burton was inducted into the US Army on 14 July 1943 at Fort McClellan, Alabama. He served as a private in Company D of the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. The 2nd ID, known as the Indianhead Division, was based at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas and deployed to England in October 1943 in preparation for the invasion of northern France. Private White went overseas in January 1944 to join the division in England.

The 2nd ID landed at Omaha Beach on 7 June 1944 near Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer and attacked through the hedgerows and across the Aure River on 10 June 1944, liberating the town of Trévières. The division was then assigned to assault and secure Hill 192, a key enemy strong-point on the road to Saint-Lo, whose capture was an important Allied objective. Located about five miles north-east of St Lô, the position was a strategic point that provided the defending Germans an uninterrupted view of the approaches the Americans would need to utilize to advance on St Lô.

The American attack on Hill 192 began on 11 July 1944, with an artillery barrage on the hill and surroundings, however planned air strikes from P-47 Thunderbolt fighters had to be called off due to overcast skies. The artillery fired more than 20,000 shells on the hill, but still the Germans emerged to man their posts and fought tenaciously. Following a savage day-long fight against elite German paratrooper defenders, the 2nd ID secured the hill, allowing the capture of St Lô several days later. Private White was killed in action on 11 July 1944, likely during the battle for Hill 192. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Burton William Henderson White was initially buried in France and in 1948 was reinterred in Athens City Cemetery in Athens, Limestone County, Alabama. He is also memorialized at the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial.