Burnt and corroded uniform insignia : General Sir Brudenell White, Chief of the General Staff, Australian Military Forces

Place Oceania: Australia, Australian Capital Territory, Canberra
Accession Number REL29696
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Brass
Maker Various
Place made Australia
Date made Unknown
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection of insignia consisting of one 'Australia' brass shoulder title; two large brass 'Australian Military Forces' (AMF) buttons (one made in Sydney, the other in Cairo); two small brass AMF buttons (one made in Melbourne the other in Cairo); two large brass rank pips; one small enamelled brass rank pip; three crowns (one still retaining a vestige of red velvet); and two crossed sword and baton badges, one of which has had melted aluminium fused to it.

History / Summary

Recovered from the uniform of General Sir Brudenell White, Chief of the General Staff, after the crash of Hudson A16-97 near Canberra on 13 August 1940. White was travelling to Canberra with government and military officials. All aboard were killed.

Born at St Arnaud, Victoria, in 1876, White 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 a 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, 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, he 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 CGS in 1923 to take up civil appointments. In March 1940 White was recalled as CGS, but held this position for only five months before he was killed.