Brigadier General Cyril Brudenell Bingham White

Birth Date 23 September 1876
Birth Place Australia: Victoria, St Arnaud
Death Date 13 August 1940
Death Place Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra
Also known as C B B White, Cyril Brudenell Bingham White, White, C B B
Final Rank
Units
Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 23 May 1919 on page 887 at position 8
London Gazette 1 January 1919 on page 3 at position 6

White was one of the founders of the AIF and rose to become Chief of the General Staff. He was born on 23 September 1876 at St Arnaud, Victoria. He became a bank clerk at the age of 16 and in 1896, aged 20, he joined the 2nd Queensland Regiment.

White transferred to the permanent forces and was commissioned into the Queensland Regiment of the Royal Australian Artillery in June 1899. In February 1902 he sailed for South Africa with the Australian Commonwealth Horse, arriving late in the war he saw little action and returned to Australia in July.

In 1904 White was appointed Aide-de-Camp to the General Officer Commanding the Australian Military Forces (AMF) and the following year, in November, he married Ethel Davidson. In 1906 he became the first AMF officer to attend the British Staff College. Returning to Australia in 1908, he was promoted to captain, joined Colonel William Bridges' staff but soon returned to England on exchange to the War Office.

Having been promoted to major in 1911, White returned to Australia in 1912 to take up the post of Director of Military Operations at Army Headquarters, Melbourne where he formulated plans for raising, equipping, training and despatching the Australian component of a combined Australian/New Zealand division should war arise. White was made acting Chief of the General Staff in July 1914 and upon the outbreak of war August, having prepared, was able to meet the Government's offer to Britain of a force of 20,000 men for overseas service.

He became Chief of Staff of the 1st Australian Division, AIF, had the first contingent in Egypt by December 1914 and planned the landing at Gallipoli. He was promoted to brigadier general in October 1915, and planned and supervised the evacuation of Anzac. Back in Egypt he was largely responsible for overseeing the AIF's expansion and he went to France as Brigadier General, General Staff, AIF.

Although the AIF was commanded by the British general William Birdwood, White has been credited as being the driving force behind its operation on the Western Front. In January 1917 he was promoted to temporary major general. That July he rejected an offer to command the Australian Corps and remained a member of Birdwood's staff. The following June, White followed Birdwood, now appointed to command the British 5th Army, and became Major General, General Staff, 5th Army.

In November 1918 White was promoted to temporary lieutenant general and made Chief of Staff, having briefly presided over the Demobilisation and Repatriation Branch. He returned to Australia in June 1919 and worked on the future organisation of the AMF. He retired in 1923 and was appointed Chairman of the Commonwealth Public Service Board, becoming responsible for overseeing the transfer of departments from Melbourne to Canberra. Upon retiring in 1928, he continued to serve on a number of business and charitable boards, including the Board of the Australian War Memorial.

In 1940 he was recalled to become Chief of the General Staff, but his tenure was short-lived. On 13 August 1940, White was killed in an aircraft crash near Canberra airport.
Brudenell White was the son of Irish migrants Warren and Maria White. He was born on 23 September 1876 in St Arnaud, Victoria, and at the age of five his family moved to Queensland. His father worked on a number of pastoral stations around Gympie, Charters Towers, and Gladstone, but financial ruin forced the family to move to Brisbane within a few years. White went to Brisbane Central Boysa School, and an older brother later worked to pay for Brudenell to attend Eton Preparatory School for a year.

White left school with a prize in shorthand, which helped him get work as a bank clerk at the age of 16. From then on he paid his own way, including for a personal tutor to help him to continue his studies at night. White had ambitions of becoming a barrister, but instead found a career in the army. He first served with the 2nd Queensland Regiment, transferring to the Queensland Regiment of the Royal Australian Artillery in 1899. He saw brief service in South Africa in 1902, and later became the first Australian representative at the British Army Staff College in Camberley. He spent a number of years in Britain, at one point being seconded to the War Office.

Brudenell White was a keenly intelligent man who could quickly grasp any problem, either organisational or tactical. It was said that he would understand a question in aone illuminating flasha and be working on a solution while other men were still painfully accumulating the facts. He returned to Australia in 1912 to take up the post of Director of Military Operations in Melbourne, and began working on plans for common action with New Zealand in the event of war.

In July 1914 White was made acting Chief of the General Staff, and when war was declared one month later he was called on to put his plans into action. He was appointed the first Chief of Staff of the Australian Imperial Force, and was instrumental in its creation. He worked on plans for the landing of the 1st Australian Division on Gallipoli, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his work in reorganising a force badly muddled in the confusion of the landing.

In October 1915 White was promoted to brigadier general, serving under Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood. He was instrumental in the success of the evacuation of Anzac, and later in the expansion of the AIF.

White continued as Birdwoodas chief of staff through much of the AIFas time on the Western Front. His skill was crucial in the creation of tactical plans and operations, and in supply and movement both in and out of the line. At the end of the war White was involved in the demobilisation and repatriation of the AIF.

After the war White was involved in reorganising the military forces, served as chairman of the Commonwealth Public Service Board, and later worked on the problems of reconstruction after the economic depression.

Brudenell White was again called to his countryas service as Chief of the General Staff in March 1940. On 13 August 1940 White was on an aircraft travelling from Melbourne to Canberra with three federal ministers. The aircraft crashed near the Canberra airport, killing all on board.

General Sir Cyril Brudenell Bingham White once said: aI would rather remain a sergeant in the Australian Army than be a Field Marshal in any other.a He died in the service of his country at the age of 63.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with some 40,000 Australians who died during the Second World War. His photograph is displayed beside the Pool of Reflection.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember General Sir Cyril Brudenell Bingham White, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

Rolls

  • Pre First World War Conflicts Nominal Rolls

    Rank
    Lieutenant
    Unit
    1st Battalion, Australian Commonwealth Horse
    Conflict
    South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
  • Roll of Honour

    Rank
    General
    Fate
    Aircraft accident
    Date of Fate
    13 August 1940
    Service
    Australian Army
    Unit
    Chief of the General Staff (HQ & HQ Units)
    Conflict
    Second World War, 1939-1945
  • First World War Embarkation Roll

    Rank
    Lieutenant Colonel
    Place of Embarkation
    Melbourne
    Embarkation Ship
    HMAT Orvieto A3
    Date of Embarkation
    21 October 1914
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918

Honours & Awards

  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Distinguished Service Order
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    RAust Garr Art
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant Colonel
    London Gazette
    3 June 1915 on page 5331 at position 2
    Commonwealth Gazette
    11 September 1915 on page 1747 at position 4
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
    Classification
    Order of St Michael and St George
    Unit
    I Anzac Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
    London Gazette
    1 January 1918 on page 6 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    18 April 1918 on page 846 at position 1
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    French Croix de Guerre
    Classification
    French awards and medals
    Unit
    RAust Garr Art
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
    Commonwealth Gazette
    3 February 1921 on page 164 at position 3
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Mention in despatches
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Staff
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
    London Gazette
    1 June 1917 on page 5420 at position 29
    Commonwealth Gazette
    4 October 1917 on page 2622 at position 71
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Mention in despatches
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Staff
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant Colonel
    London Gazette
    5 August 1915 on page 7668 at position 6
    Commonwealth Gazette
    28 October 1915 on page 2736 at position 8
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Mention in despatches
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Staff
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Brigadier General
    London Gazette
    13 July 1916 on page 6944 at position 2
    Commonwealth Gazette
    30 November 1916 on page 3233 at position 24
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Companion of the Order of the Bath
    Classification
    Order of the Bath
    Unit
    Staff
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Brigadier General
    London Gazette
    14 March 1916 on page 2872 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    6 July 1916 on page 1499 at position 16
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Belgian Croix de Guerre
    Classification
    Belgian awards and medals
    Unit
    II Anzac Corps
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
    London Gazette
    12 July 1918 on page 8189 at position 26
    Commonwealth Gazette
    27 November 1918 on page 2262 at position 148
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Mention in despatches
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Staff
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Brigadier General
    London Gazette
    4 January 1917 on page 203 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    29 June 1917 on page 1391 at position 52
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Mention in despatches
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Artillery
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
    London Gazette
    28 May 1918 on page 6200 at position 63
    Commonwealth Gazette
    24 October 1918 on page 2055 at position 79
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Mention in despatches
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Staff
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
    London Gazette
    31 December 1918 on page 15225 at position 95
    Commonwealth Gazette
    23 May 1919 on page 878 at position 72
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Mention in despatches
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Staff
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
    London Gazette
    11 July 1919 on page 8827 at position 35
    Commonwealth Gazette
    30 October 1919 on page 1659 at position 56
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Mention in despatches
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    BGGS Anzac
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Brigadier General
    London Gazette
    10 April 1916 on page 3785 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    7 July 1921 on page 1946 at position 1
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    French Croix de Guerre
    Classification
    French awards and medals
    Unit
    Australian Imperial Force
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
    London Gazette
    5 November 1920 on page 10743 at position 2
    Commonwealth Gazette
    3 February 1921 on page 164 at position 3
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Japanese Order of the Rising Sun, Second Class
    Classification
    Japanese awards and medals
    Unit
    Australian Imperial Force
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
    London Gazette
    21 January 1921 on page 573 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    7 April 1921 on page 615 at position 3
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Portuguese Grand Officer of the Military Order of Avis
    Classification
    Portuguese orders/awards and medals
    Unit
    Australian Imperial Force
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
    London Gazette
    21 August 1919 on page 10614 at position 1
    Commonwealth Gazette
    11 December 1919 on page 2374 at position 13
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Montenegrin Medal for Merit, Gold
    Classification
    Montenegrin orders/awards/medals
    Unit
    Staff
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Temporary Brigadier General
    London Gazette
    9 March 1917 on page 2449 at position 5
    Commonwealth Gazette
    21 August 1917 on page 1781 at position 10
  • Honours and Awards:

    Award/Honour
    Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
    Classification
    Order of St Michael and St George
    Unit
    Staff
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
    London Gazette
    1 January 1919 on page 3 at position 6
    Commonwealth Gazette
    23 May 1919 on page 887 at position 8
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Unit
    1st Australian Division
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant Colonel
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Mention in despatches
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Date of Recommendation
    21 March 1917
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
    Classification
    Order of the Bath
    Unit
    Headquarters 5th Army
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
    Classification
    Order of the Bath
    Unit
    Headquarters 5th Army
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
    Classification
    Order of St Michael and St George
    Date of Recommendation
    01 October 1916
    Unit
    Royal Australian Garrison Artillery
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Colonel
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Companion of the Order of the Bath
    Classification
    Order of the Bath
    Unit
    Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC)
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Brigadier General
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Companion of the Order of the Bath
    Classification
    Order of the Bath
    Unit
    Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC)
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Brigadier General
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Unit
    Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC)
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Brigadier General
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Award/Honour
    Distinguished Service Order
    Classification
    British/Australian gallantry awards
    Unit
    Royal Australian Garrison Artillery 1st Australian Division
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant Colonel
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Major General
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Unit
    1st Australian Division
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant Colonel
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Unit
    Headquarters Staff
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Brigadier General
  • Honours and Awards (Recommendation):

    Unit
    1st Australian Division
    Conflict
    First World War, 1914-1918
    Rank
    Lieutenant Colonel

Timeline

Date of birth 23 September 1876 St Arnaud
Date commissioned 1897 Commissioned into the 2nd Queensland Regiment.
Other 1898 Passed an exam for a commission in the Permanent Military Forces, in the Queensland Artillery.
Date commissioned 1899-06 Was commissioned into the Queensland Regiment of the Royal Australian Artillery.
Other units 1902-02 Served in the Boer War as a junior officer with the Commonwealth Light Horse.
Date returned to Australia 1902-07
Other 1904 Appointed Aide de Camp to Major General Hutton, the general officer commanding the AMF.
Other units 1906 - 1907 Attended the British Staff College at Camberley, England. Was the first AMF officer to attend the college.
Date promoted 1908 Promoted to captain after he returned to Australia, and posted to the staff of the Chief of Intelligence.
Other units 1908 - 1911 Returned to England on an exchange posting to the War Office.
Other 1911 Recalled to become the Director of Military Operations, with the rank of major.
Other 1914-07 Acting Chief of General Staff, AIF.
Other 1914-08 Chief of staff of the 1st Australian Division, AIF, with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Date of embarkation 21 October 1914
Date of honour or award 03 June 1915 Created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in recognition of his service assisting with the plans for the landing at Gallipoli.
Date promoted 1915-10 Promoted to brigadier general.
Date of honour or award 14 March 1916 Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).
Date of recommendation honour or award 1916-10
Date promoted 01 January 1917 Promoted to temporary major general.
Date of honour or award 09 March 1917 Montenegrin Medal for Merit - Gold.
Date of recommendation honour or award 21 March 1917
Other 1917-07 Rejected an offer to command the Australian corps
Date of honour or award 01 January 1918 Companion of the Order of St Michael and St John (CMG).
Other units 31 May 1918 Appointed major general General Staff of 5th British Army.
Date of honour or award 12 July 1918 Belgian Croix de Guerre.
Date promoted 30 November 1918 Promoted to temporary lieutenant general.
Date of honour or award 01 January 1919 Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG).
Date returned to Australia 1919-07
Date of honour or award 21 August 1919 Portuguese Military Order of the Avis - Grand Officer.
Other 1920-01 Appointed to the committee to examine the future structure of the Army.
Date promoted 1920-02 Promoted to the substantive rank of major general, back dated to 1 January 1919.
Other 1920-06-01 - 1923-06-01 Appointed Chief of General Staff, AIF.
Date of honour or award 15 October 1920 Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO).
Date of honour or award 21 January 1921 Japanese Order of the Rising Sun - 2nd Class.
Date of honour or award 03 February 1921 French Croix de Guerre.
Other 1923 Resigned from the Army to become the first Chairman of the Public Service Board.
Date of discharge 01 June 1923 White resigned from the Army to become the first Chairman of the Public Service Board.
Date of honour or award 08 July 1927 Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB).
Other 1928 Retired from position as first Chairman of the Public Service Board.
Other 15 March 1940 Recalled to active duty and enlisted in the 2nd AIF. White was promoted to full general and reappointed as Chief of the General Staff.
Date of death 13 August 1940 Killed in a plane crash near Canberra airport.

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