'British Warm' Overcoat : Major General C B B White, Australian Imperial Force

Place Europe: Western Front
Accession Number RELAWM14050
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Physical description Cotton, Leather, Plastic, Wool
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1914-1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Khaki woollen double-breasted overcoat of the type known as a 'British Warm'. The coat is knee length, and has a single vent at the rear. Closure is by six plaited leather buttons, arranged in two rows of three. There is a small open pocket on the left breast and a pocket at each hip with an overhanging flap. Internally, there is an open pocket at each breast, that on the right having a pair of plastic buttons sewn beneath it. The lining is of a pale brown cotton and wool blend fabric, which has been extensively repaired and darned under the arms. The shoulder straps are secured by small plaited leather buttons, and holes and markings where the rank badges of a Major General were previously attached are visible. The sleeves are lined with olive green polished cotton fabric, and the cuffs are each secured by a pair of small plaited leather buttons. The collar and lapels have been crudely stitched together to exclude draughts. There is a single large plastic button underneath the right hand lapel, which enables the coat to be closed at the throat, and a single small plastic button on the underside of each collar, which would originally have retained a strip of fabric to exclude draughts when the collar is turned up.

History / Summary

Worn by Major General Cyril Brudenell Bingham White during the First World War. White was born at St Arnaud, Victoria, in 1876, but spent his early life in Queensland. He joined the Militia in 1896 and in 1899 successfully sat an examination to join the permanent forces, becoming a Lieutenant in the Queensland Regiment of Royal Australian Artillery. He served with the 1st Commonwealth Horse during the Boer War, and after his return to Australia received his first staff appointment, as temporary captain and aide-de-camp to Major General Hutton, commander of the Australian Military Forces. Nominated by Hutton, he attended the British Army Staff College, Camberley, in 1906, and graduated with good results. After several years in England, attached to the British War Office, Brudenell White was recalled to Australia as a major, to become director of military operations at Army Headquarters. At the outbreak of war in 1914 he was selected by Major General Bridges to be chief of staff for the new Australian Imperial Force, and took part in the landing at Gallipoli in April 1915. After the death of Bridges in May, he became chief of staff to the new commander, Lieutenant General Birdwood. Promoted brigadier general in October, White was largely responsible for planning the successful evacuation of Anzac in December. Serving on the Western Front for the remainder of the war, he exerted great influence in his role as staff officer to Birdwood. He was suggested as a suitable leader for the Australian Corps when it was formed in 1918, but remained with Birdwood, becoming senior staff officer to the 5th Army. Disappointed with cuts made to the Australian military after the war, he retired as Chief of the General Staff in 1923, to take up civil appointments. In March 1940, after the outbreak of the Second World War, Brudenell White was recalled as CGS, but was killed in an air crash near Canberra on 13 August.