Search our records : Melville Leslie White

Surname: White
Forename(s): Melville Leslie
Service Number: 2109
Date of Birth: 7th November 1894
Force: British Army
Unit: Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry
Civilian Occupation: Art student
Parents: John and Rosetta White
Home address: 11 Church Street, Heavitree, Exeter, Devon

Melville White was born in Branscombe on 7th November 1894, son of John and Rosetta White, who then lived at Marine Cottage, Branscombe.  In the 1911 census the family was living at 11 Church Street, Heavitree, Exeter, and Melville was described as an art student.

He joined the Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry, a Territorial cavalry regiment, and was sent to the Dardanelles (Gallipoli), arriving there on 23rd September 1915.  The unit served here as infantry.  At this point Melville  was a Lance Corporal, but he was later promoted to Sergeant.  His elder brother Peter served in the same unit, and joined him in the Dardanelles in October that year.

When the Allied withdrawal from Gallipoli began in December 1915, Melville’s unit moved to Egypt, and merged with another battalion to form the 16th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. After a spell spent guarding the Suez Canal against a possible Turkish attack, the battalion then fought the Turks in Palestine, and were involved in the fight which led to the capture of Jerusalem.

The battalion was later sent to France, and arrived at Marseille on 7th May 1918.  After a period in training, the unit was sent to the Somme, and in early September suffered heavy casualties in an attack on Moislains.  In early November they advanced through the outskirts of Lille and on into Belgium, where they halted when given news of the Armistice on 11th November.

Melville died in 1976, aged 81.