Captain Cresswell Fitzherbert Tayler White 1888 - 1962
The Founder of the Fellowship Of the Services - Voucher No. 1
The eldest son of Dr and Mrs White of the East India Dock Road, Poplar, London, Cresswell White enlisted in the Territorial Army and was embodied into the London Regiment [Artist Rifles] in January 1915. A short time later he was given a permanent Regular Army Commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Wiltshire Regt. In 1916 in the trenches at Messines, France, during a surprise raid by the enemy Lieutenant White's batman received fatal injuries and he died in the arms of his officer. The Private soldier who had saved Lieutenant White's life on two occasions was buried in a nearby churchyard. His death, coupled with the close association and friendship which had developed between the two men from vastly different backgrounds left a lasting impression on Cresswell White. In fact, he was always to maintain that his batman was the real founder of Fellowship.
Due to ill-health Cresswell White retired from the Army in 1926, with the rank of Captain. In civilian life he retained an imperishable memory of the unspoken comradeship of the trenches, a selflessness and a unity between all men, of whatever class or creed. At a watchman's brazier in the Old Kent Road, Cresswell met with two kindred spirits. These being the Night Watchman George Easthaugh who had served as a Sergeant in the Army and an ex-Royal Navy bellhop Tommy Noyes. The three men spent many hours discussing the plight of the ex-servicemen of the day and through Cresswell's inspirational leadership, a move was made to form a special society. The society known as the British Service Roll came into being in 1927, and was to change it's name to the Fellowship of the Services in 1928.
In the organisation for which he was the inspiration, Cresswell White never sought office. Tommy Noyes, Voucher Number 3, was elected Chairman with Cresswell being content then, and for the rest of his life, to look on and offer advice and encouragement to others. He was quick to compliment, but would rebuke too, if one varied the procedure of Ritual or the running of the Mess. The founder was an idealist and maintained a dogged insistence that the rules of the Fellowship should remain unchanged forever. When, in 1938, the Fellowship was brought under the Company Act and Trustees were appointed he gradually retired into the background. From those early days at the brazier Cresswell had seen the Fellowship grow into a truly national organisation of ex-servicemen. He was to pass to a Higher Fellowship peacefully on the 26th July 1962, and is buried in the churchyard at Bury, near Petworth in West Sussex. There a simple cross marks his grave. Inside the church there is a small plaque to the memory of the Founder of the Fellowship of the Services.
We Will Remember Him
If you would like to visit the last resting place the details are below.
Church Lane, Bury, Pulborough, West Sussex, England RH20 1PB, United Kingdom