WHITE, David

Service Number: 284
Enlisted: 1 March 1916, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 5th Machine Gun Battalion
Born: Violet Town, 1885
Home Town: Violet Town, Strathbogie, Victoria
Schooling: Violet Town State School; Upotipotpon South State School
Occupation: Drover
Died: Natural causes, Parkville, Victoria, 28 November 1938
Cemetery: Fawkner Memorial Park Cemetery, Victoria
Memorials: St Dunstan's Honor Roll, Violet Town Honour Roll, Violet Town Primary School Honour Roll
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World War 1 Service

1 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 284, Melbourne, Victoria
4 May 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 284, 15th Machine Gun Company, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
4 May 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 284, 15th Machine Gun Company, HMAT Port Lincoln, Melbourne
4 Oct 1917: Honoured Distinguished Conduct Medal, Broodseinde Ridge
24 Mar 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 284, 5th Machine Gun Battalion

Help us honour David White's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Elsa Reuter

284 Pte. David WHITE, 15th Machine Gun Coy - 1885-1938

On 1 March 1916, a week after his younger brother Bert had enlisted Dave followed suit. They would have been called up together, and after preliminary training at Geelong they embarked on HMAT Port Lincoln in May. They were on their way to England via the Suez Canal, where in June, Dave fell ill with bronchitis and had to break his journey for hospitalisation. 

When he had recovered, he continued his journey to England to the Parkhouse Machine Gun Training Camp. From there he was posted to France and joined the 15th Machine Gun Company in March 1917.

Dave’s service records are scanty, but there is evidence of active service on the Somme during 1917 and of a furlough which he enjoyed during most of February 1918. A trip to Ireland was particularly enjoyable. Letters to his sister Maude kept the family at home informed, usually with good news. In May 1918, while in hospital with an injured foot he tells of brother Bert’s visit whom he hadn’t seen for eight months.

Back in action on 2 June 1918 Dave was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for ‘conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  On one occasion he and the No 2 gunner were buried by a shell explosion. Having extricated himself he dug his companion out and carried him through heavy shell fire to medical aid. Although severely injured and shaken, he returned to his gun and carried on with most determination until relieved some hours later. On another occasion when wounded in the head and face and almost blinded, he stuck to his gun and only left his post in obedience to orders. His gallantry and endurance have been very conspicuous on many occasions.’

On 1 October 1918 he was wounded in action with a shrapnel wound to his right shoulder. For this he was invalided to hospital in the UK where he stayed until granted 14 days leave in November and December. Ten days later he left England for Australia aboard HS Bakara.

It was reported in the Violet Town Sentinel dated 28 January 1919 that ‘a record crowd gathered at the railway station on Friday evening to welcome PTE Dave White of Violet Town who gained the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry in the field’. The following month another article in the Sentinel reported that Dave had received a certificate from His Majesty King George V in connection with his decoration.

In 1921 Dave married Florence Hume. Settled on a farm at Nalinga and raised three sons and two daughters.

He died on 28 November 1938 at the Royal Park Hospital as a result of his war wounds.

His wife Florence died the same year; they are both buried at the Fawkner Cemetery.

Decoration: Distinguished Conduct Medal

Service Medals: British War Medal      Victory Medal

Memorials:  Violet Town State School Honour Board
                    Upotipotpon South State School Honour Board
                     Main Honour Board, Memorial Hall, Violet Town
                     Copper Plaque affixed to exterior wall, Memorial Hall, Violet Town
                     St Dunstan’s Anglican Church, Violet Town

In 2013 a Ceratonia siliqua - Carob - was planted by Dave’s niece Joan Webb

© 2016 Sheila Burnell