General Cyril Brudenell White was one of Australia’s most distinguished commanders, with a career spanning three wars. He joined the Militia in 1896 before being commissioned into the permanent forces in 1899. White served in the final stages of the Boer War with the 1st Battalion, Australian Commonwealth Horse, but was disappointed to have not seen combat.
At the outbreak of the First World War, White was chosen to serve as Major General William Bridges’ Chief of Staff and played an instrumental role in the initial raising of the Australian Imperial Force. He quickly proved to be a capable staff officer and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his actions on Gallipoli. White was promoted to the General Staff of ANZAC, and formed a successful relationship with Lieutenant General William Birdwood. When the decision was made to evacuate from Gallipoli, White devised the plan that withdrew 41,000 men from the Anzac beachhead without incident or casualties.
On the Western Front, White exercised administrative and organisational control over Australian forces under Birdwood. When Birdwood was promoted to command the British Fifth Army, White went with him. He stayed in the army after the war, and was promoted to Chief of the General Staff before retiring in 1923. White was recalled to active duty as Chief of the General Staff and promoted to general in 1940. He died a few months later in an air crash in Canberra.
This tunic was worn by White during and after the First World War. It includes the medal ribbons he wore from the early 1920s and the rank insignia of a major general.