Rank: Sergeant 648
Regiment: ‘B’ Company, 29th Battalion, Australian Infantry
Died: 12 February 1928
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. Robert was the brother of Lawrence, Melville, Leicester and Peter. He is pictured here with his father John and mother Rosetta.
On 9 July 1915 he took his oath of allegiance to the King in Melbourne, Australia.
After a period of initial training he was posted to B Company of the 29th Battalion on 12 August 1915, and on 10 November that year he embarked on HMAT (HM Australian Troopship) Ascanius in Melbourne. On 7 December, he landed at Suez, and remained in Egypt until 16 June 1916, when he sailed from Alexandria for Marseilles as part of the Australian 5th Division, arriving there on 23 June.
The battalion’s first major battle was at Fromelles on 19 July.
On 12 February 1917 Robert was promoted to Lance Corporal, and to Corporal on 9 March. On 23 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 12 April, and on 9 June was promoted to sergeant.
On 29 August 1917 Robert was sent to England for training, and from 24 September to 10 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 15 November 1917 he returned to France via Southampton, landing in Le Havre.
From 7 to 24 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 29 July Robert was admitted to the 20th Casualty Clearing Station after receiving a gunshot wound to his left arm. On 3 August he was admitted to the 1st General Hospital at Etretat, but was transferred to England on 17 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 11 November.
Robert finally left England to return to Australia on the troopship Osmonde on 16 June 1919.
His Australian Army record shows that he died on 12 February 1928, aged 45.
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