Rank: Private 30399
Regiment: Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry; 2nd Battalion, Devonshire Regiment
Peter White was born in Branscombe in 1893, the son of John White, the local artist, and his wife Rosetta. In the 1911 census the family was living at 11 Church Street, Heavitree, Exeter, and Peter was described as a motor engineer/repairer, but by 1919 the Absent Voters’ List showed the home address for Peter and his brothers Melville, Leicester, Lawrence and Robert as 5 Belmont Terrace, Beer.
Peter appears in the photo above in the middle of the back row, marked with ‘X’. His father painted him in uniform, dated 27 April 1915, so he was obviously in the army by that time. His medal index card shows that he initially joined the Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry as a private, and that he served in Gallipoli, arriving there on 9 October 1915. His brother Melville was in the same unit, but he arrived in Gallipoli the previous month.
The Yeomanry were a cavalry unit, but they fought in Gallipoli as infantry. They were withdrawn from there to Egypt in late December 1915, and amalgamated with another yeomanry unit to form the 16th Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. See the biography of Peter’s brother, Melville for further details of this battalion’s service in the Middle East.
The battalion was later sent to France, and arrived in Marseille on 7 May 1918. At some point Peter was transferred to the 2nd Battalion, possibly among replacements for those lost when that unit was almost wiped out in the battle of Bois des Buttes on 27 May 1918, where they lost 28 officers and 552 men.
Whilst with the 2nd Battalion Peter was awarded the Military Medal ‘for bravery in the field’. The citation has not been found, and the announcement did not appear in the London Gazette until March 1919, reflecting the length of time it took to go through the process for approving such awards.
Peter’s Military Medal is on the left of his medals below.
Peter died in 1944, aged 51.
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