General Sir Brundell White

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    Brudenell White
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    Sir Cyril Brudenell Bingham White
    23 September 1876 – 13 August 1940 (aged 63)

    General Brudenell White in March 1940
    Nickname Brudenell
    Place of birth St Arnaud, Victoria, Australia
    Place of death Canberra, Australia
    Allegiance Australia
    Service/branch Australian Army
    Years of service 1897–1923
    March–August 1940
    Rank General
    Commands held Chief of the General Staff
    Battles/wars Second Boer War
    First World War

    Gallipoli Campaign
    Western Front
    Battle of the Somme
    Battle of Pozières
    Second World War

    Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
    Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
    Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
    Distinguished Service Order
    Mentioned in Despatches (8)
    Other work Chairman of the Public Service Board
    General Sir Cyril Brudenell Bingham White KCB, KCMG, KCVO, DSO (23 September 1876 – 13 August 1940), Australian soldier, was Chief of the General Staff of the Australian Army from 1920 to 1923 and again from March to August 1940, when he was killed in the Canberra air disaster.

    Contents [hide]
    1 Early Life and career
    2 First World War
    3 Between the wars
    4 Second World War and death
    5 References

    [edit] Early Life and career
    White was born in St Arnaud in Victoria. He joined the colonial militia force in Queensland in 1898, and served in the Boer War. In 1901 he became a founding member of the new Australian Army, and in 1906 was the first Australian officer to attended the British Army staff college. In 1912 he returned to Australia and became Director of Military Operations, at a time when Andrew Fisher's Labor government was expanding Australia's defence capacity.

    [edit] First World War
    When the First World War broke out in 1914, he supervised the first contingents of the Australian Imperial Force to go the front. At Gallipoli, he was chief of staff to Major General Sir William Bridges and then to William Birdwood, gaining the rank of Brigadier General. After the evacuation from Gallipoli which he masterminded as "The Silence Ruse", he was chief administrative officer of the AIF in France, under the command of John Monash. In the battle for the Pozières plateau at the end of July he allowed the confidence of others to bear down his own misgivings, but after this failure, when the senior British commander General Douglas Haig was finding fault with Birdwood and White, he stood up to Haig and pointed out that whatever mistakes had been made, the commander-in-chief had been misinformed in several particulars, which White then proceeded to specify. Haig was so impressed that when he had finished he put his hand on White's shoulder and said, "I dare say you're right, young man." During 1917 the value of the Australian troops was being more and more appreciated, but among the troops themselves there was some feeling that they were being too often sacrificed through the mistakes of the higher command. By September White had become convinced that as far as possible piecemeal operations must be avoided, that too great advances should not be attempted, and that there must be a proper use of artillery barrage. These tactics were successfully applied in the Menin-road battle on 20 September, and in subsequent thrusts.

    Early in 1918, White, realizing the difficulties of repatriation at the end of the war, raised the problem of what would have to be done while the men were waiting for shipping. This led to the educational scheme afterwards adopted. In May, Birdwood and White, at the request of General Rawlinson, prepared plans for an offensive but these were shelved in the meanwhile. When General Birdwood was given command of the fifth army, the choice of his successor in command of the Australian corps lay between Monash and White. Monash was White's senior and, though White's reputation stood very high, it was impossible to pass over so capable and successful an officer as Monash. White was given the important position of Chief of the General Staff of Birdwood's army. It was a happy combination, for though Birdwood was a great leader of men he was less interested in organization, and White had a genius for it.

    [edit] Between the wars
    After the war White was Chief of the General Staff until his retirement in 1923. In the same year he was appointed Chairman of the newly constituted Commonwealth Public Service Board, supervising the transfer of departments from Melbourne to the new capital, Canberra. In 1928 he chose not to move to Canberra, declining a further term with the Public Service Board in order to remain close to his home and grazing property "Woodnaggerak" near Buangor, Victoria.

    [edit] Second World War and death
    In 1940, as Australia mobilised the 2nd AIF to take part in the Second World War, White was recalled to service at the age of 63, promoted to General, and re-appointed Chief of the General Staff. He would probably have become Australia's overall military commander in that war instead of Thomas Blamey had he not been aboard the Royal Australian Air Force plane which crashed in the Canberra air disaster on 13 August 1940, killing all aboard.

    Monash described him as "far and away the ablest soldier Australia had ever turned out".

    [edit] References
    Serle, Percival (1949). "White, Cyril Brudenell Bingham". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
    Derham, Rosemary, "The Silence Ruse", Cliffe Books 1998, ISBN 0 95853 691 0
    Biography - Australian War Memorial
    This article incorporates text from the 1949 edition of Dictionary of Australian Biography from Project Gutenberg of Australia, which is in the public domain in Australia and the United States of America.

    Military offices
    Preceded by
    Major General John Northcott Chief of the General Staff
    March – August 1940 Succeeded by
    Lieutenant General Ernest Squires
    Preceded by
    Lieutenant General James Gordon Legge Chief of the General Staff
    1920 – 1923 Succeeded by
    General Sir Henry Chauvel

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