Richard Taylor White DSO, RN

Born  29 Jan 1908Tickhill Castle, Yorkshire
Died   1995(86)


1 May 1928 A/S.Lt.
1 Dec 1928 S.Lt.
1 Sep 1930 Lt.
1 Sep 1938 Lt.Cdr.
30 Jun 1941 Cdr.
31 Dec 1945 Capt.

Retired: 7 Jul 1955


11 Jul 1940 DSO
14 Jan 1941 Bar to DSO
22 Dec 1942 2nd Bar to DSO

Warship Commands listed for Richard Taylor White, RN

HMS Antelope (H 36)Lt.Cdr.Destroyer24 Sep 193826 Feb 1941
HMS Beagle (H 30)Lt.Cdr.DestroyerFeb 194116 Feb 1942
HMS Tartar (F 43)Cdr.Destroyer17 Feb 194228 Apr 1942
HMS Zulu (F 18)Cdr.Destroyer28 Apr 194214 Sep 1942
HMS Hyacinth (K 84)Cdr.Corvette1 Oct 19425 Mar 1943
HMS Despatch (D 30)Cdr.Light cruiserApr 1944mid 1944
HMS Terpsichore (R 33)Cdr.Destroyer5 Jan 19457 Oct 1945

Career information

Captain Richard Taylor White RN DSO was born on 29th Jan 1908 at Tickhill Castle, Yorkshire, the middle of the three sons of Sir Archibald White 4th Baronet (of White of Wallingwells, Notts).

Richard Taylor White (popularly known as Dick) was educated at Lockers Park Preparatory School near Hemel Hempstead, Herts, before joining the HMY Britannia at 13 years old (the two hulk predecessor moored on the River Dart) that later became the Royal Naval College Dartmouth, to which he later returned in the 1950s as Captain.

Aged ten at the end of World War One his father had served in the Royal Artillery at Gallipoli, his two uncles (Charlie and Willie) on the Western front, he followed in a long line of military service, from General Armstrong (the Duke of Marlborough’s Adjudant General) to Sir Thomas White (the first Baronet, who raised, equipped and paid for a Regiment of the Notts Militia during the Naploeonic Wars). He always said that he was raised on the “Beau Geste” novels of dering-do and was very close to his two brothers , Tony (Sir Thomas Astley Woollaston White, 5th Bart) and Jock (Captain AJR White RN CBE).

He served as a midshipman on HMS Hood and Rodney often spending days re-coaling which exposed him to a later life of Chronic Emphysemia exascepated by the sinkings in the Mediterranean during WWII).

He was trained as a traditional seaman at Britannia and thoroughly enjoyed his lifetime mainly in Destroyers, culminating as Captain “D” of the United Nations task force at the start of the Korean War. But also taking part in the evacuations during the Spanish civil war, the incidents on the Yangtse River in China and one spell after being sunk at Tobruk as the Liaison/training Officer attached to the Greek Navy in Alexandria (where he was awarded the Order of the Phoenix).

As mentioned before he then was appointed Captain of the Royal Naval College Dartmouth through the period of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and was responsible for providing a large contingent of cadets to line the Coronation Route. He was always amused to find that when he commanded Dartmouth they were teaching his “Box Search” for UB41 as a classic example. Finally he returned to sea in 1953 to be Captain of HMS Glory, an aircraft carrier, followed by one final appointment as Commodore of Convoys before retiring during the financial cuts of 1955, when he said that all the top posts were going to those with degrees in engineering or physics and was no longer the choice of seamen.

When promoted Captain he was at that time the youngest Captain in the Royal Navy, both he and his brother Jock (Captain AJR White) were based at Rosyth during convoy escort duty in the Atlantic and uniquely they both served at the D-Day landings, together with his older brother, Tony, who had joined the war effort as a Royal Observor Corps spotter, one of very few families where a whole generation were on active service in the same place during WWII. His appointment was at this time to HMS Despatch, which had had all its original guns removed and replaced with Anti-Aircraft batteries manned by army personnel to support its role as “Traffic Control” in building the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanche. He always kept in his wallet his landing pass “number one” for Arromanche.

In August 1945 he was sent to Japan and the lead destroyer in the escort group of the US Mississippi into Tokyo Bay where he witnessed the surrender of the Japanese Forces, receiving one Samurai sword, which became a treasured possession, as was the Ceremonial Gilt Dirk presented by the Royal Danish Naval College.

After retiring he worked for a short time as a salesman for Ventaxia and afterwards the Caffyns Motor Group. He enjoyed horse racing and shooting and spent many years as Church Warden of St John the Baptist Church at Wateringbury, Kent which was in the grounds of Wateringbury Place (his wife’s family home). He married Gabrielle Ursula Style in 1936 September 3rd and had three sons and two daughters.

In his retirement he accepted the invitation of Prof Correlli Barnett from Churchill College, Cambridge to do a series of tape recorded interviews of his naval experiences.

Captain Richard Taylor White RN DSO** died in 1995.

Events related to this officer

Destroyer HMS Antelope (H 36)

5 Feb 1940 (position 49.20, -10.04)
German U-boat U-41 was sunk south-west of Ireland, in position 49°20'N, 10°04'W, by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, RN).

13 Jun 1940
While escorting HMS Ark Royal (Capt. C.S. Holland, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, CB, DSO, RN) off Norway HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN) and HMS Electra (Lt.Cdr. S.A. Buss, RN) collide with each other in heavy fog. Both destroyers were damaged and repairs took until ca. mid-August.

2 Nov 1940 (position 56.26, -10.18)
German U-boat U-31 was sunk north west of Ireland in position 56°26'N, 10°18'W by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Antelope (Lt.Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN).

Light cruiser HMS Despatch (D 30)

13 Apr 1944 (position 0.00, 0.00)
HMS Despatch was taken in hand at the Portsmouth Dockyard to be fitted out for duty as a depot / headquarters ship for the upcoming landings in Normandy (Operation Neptune). (1)

7 Jun 1944

Convoy EWP 1.

This convoy departed Portsmouth on 7 June 1944 and arrived on 8 June 1944 off the Normandy beaches.

It was made up of the transports; Batavier II (Dutch, 1573 GRT, built 1920), Biarritz (British, 2388 GRT, built 1915), Cameronia (British, 16297 GRT, built 1920), Devonshire (British, 11275 GRT, built 1939), Empire Arquebus (British, 7177 GRT, built 1944), Empire Crossbow (British, 7177 GRT, built 1944), Leopoldville (Belgian, 11509 GRT, built 1929), Neuralia (British, 9182 GRT, built 1912), New Bedford (British, 1595 GRT, built 1928) and Worcestershire (British, 11402 GRT, built 1931).

The depot / headquarters ships, HMS Adventure (A/Capt. A.M. Sheffield, RN), HMS Despatch (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO, RN) and Southern Prince (Capt. (Retd.) R.H.F. de Salis, DSC, OBE, RN) were also with this convoy.

The convoy was escorted by the escort destroyer HMS Eglinton (Lt.Cdr. F.M. Graves, RN), sloops HMS Redpole (Lt.Cdr. I.M. Carrs, RN), HMS Stork (Cdr.(Retd.) G.W.E. Castens, DSO, RN) and the frigates HMS Duff (T/A/Lt.Cdr. F. Brock, RCNVR) and HMS Hotham (A/Lt.Cdr. S. Ayles, RNR).


  1. ADM 199/2552

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.

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