Distinguished Service Order : Major H F White, 33 Battalion, AIF

Place Europe: Belgium, Flanders, West-Vlaanderen, Messines
Accession Number REL42604.002
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Glass enamel, Silver gilt
Maker Garrard & Co Ltd
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1917
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Distinguished Service Order. Unnamed as issued.

History / Summary

Harold Fletcher White was born on 13 June 1883 at Saumarez, near Armidale, New South Wales. He became a grazier at Guyra and joined the 6th Light Horse Regiment (New England Light Horse) in 1906. In 1914 he was promoted to captain, serving with the 5th Light Horse Regiment (Northern River Lancers). White enlisted in the AIF on 27 April 1916 and was appointed to 33rd Battalion On 1 May he was promoted to major and three days later embarked for overseas service aboard HMAT Marathon, as officer commanding 'D' Company.

Disembarking at Devonport on 9 July 33 Battalion spent the next four months training before proceeding overseas to France on 21 November. At Armentières on 8 February 1917 White received a gunshot wound to his shoulder and right hand which resulted in him having his little finger amputated. Returning to England for treatment and convalescence White re-joined his unit on 11 April and was a company commander when 33 Battalion went into action at the Battle of Messines on 6 June. For his actions at Messines White was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for 'conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led his company to the attack with exceptional dash over difficult ground and under heavy gas-shell bombardment. By his great cheerfulness and disregard of personal danger, he kept the morale of his men at its highest, under incessant artillery fire, repulsed a counter-attack, and successfully organised the consolidation.'.

White attended senior officers' school at Aldershot, England, from January to March 1918 and was promoted lieutenant-colonel on 13 April. That same day he was transferred to 36th Battalion, which he commanded for two months before taking over command of 35th Battalion. White led the 35th in action during the battle of Amiens in August and in September in operations against the Hindenburg line.

Returning to Australia at the end of the war, White was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George on 3 June 1919 for his actions on the Somme. He also received the French Croix de Guerre and was Mentioned in despatches three times.

During the Second World War White served as a member of the Volunteer Defence Corps from March 1942.

He died on 20 February 1971 at Armidale and was buried at Guyra.