Search our records : Robert White

Surname: White
Forename(s): Robert
Service Number: 648
Force: Australian Imperial Force (AIF)
Unit: 29th Battalion Australian Infantry
Date of Death: 12th February 1928
Home address:

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Robert White was born in Shere, Surrey in 1883, the son of John White, the artist.  He served a four-year apprenticeship as a carpenter with a Mr. Gill of Branscombe while the family lived in Devon.

On the 9th July 1915 he took his oath of allegiance to the King in Melbourne. 

After a period of initial training he was posted to ‘B’ Company of the 29th Battalion on 12th August 1915, and on 10th November that year he embarked on HMAT (HM Australian Troopship) Ascanius in Melbourne.  On 7th December, he landed at Suez, and remained in Egypt until 16th June 1916, when he sailed from Alexandria for Marseilles as part of the Australian 5th Division, arriving there on 23rd June.

The battalion’s first major battle was at Fromelles on 19th July.

On 12 February 1917 Robert was promoted to Lance Corporal, and to Corporal on 9th March.   On 23rd March he was wounded in action when the 29th Battalion played a major part in defeating a German counter-attack at Beaumetz.  He appears to have suffered a shrapnel wound to his left thigh, and was treated by 6 Field Ambulance.  He rejoined his unit from hospital on 12th April, and on 9th June was promoted to sergeant. 

On 29th August 1917 Robert was sent to England for training, and from 24th September to 10th October he attended the Southern Command Bombing School at Lyndhurst in the New Forest, where he learnt to prime and use grenades, and qualified as an instructor.  At the end of the course he would have been able to wear a red grenade badge on his sleeve. On 15th November 1917 he returned to France via Southampton, landing in Le Havre.

From 7th to 24th March 1918 Robert was on leave in England.  We do not know exactly where he went on leave but it is possible that he may have come to Beer, where his parents were living at 5 Belmont Terrace. 

On 29th July Robert was admitted to the 20th Casualty Clearing Station after receiving a gunshot wound to his left arm.  On 3rd August he was admitted to the 1st General Hospital at Etretat, but was transferred to England on 17th August on the SS Guildford Castle.  The following day he was admitted to the Beaufort War Hospital, with his left arm amputated.  He was in the UK recovering from his wound when the war ended on 11th November.

Robert finally left England to return to Australia on the troopship Osmonde on 16th June 1919.

His Australian Army record shows that he died on 12th February 1928, aged 45.