Rank: Sergeant 2109
Regiment: Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry; 16th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment
Melville White was born in Branscombe on 7 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. His father was a well-known artist. His brothers were Leicester, Lawrence, Peter and Robert.
He joined the Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry, a Territorial cavalry regiment, and was sent to the Dardanelles (Gallipoli), arriving there on 23 September 1915. The unit served there 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 7 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 11 November.
Melville died in 1976, aged 81.
* Required fields