Guide to the Papers of Thomas White
MS 9148 et al
National Library of Australia View Catalogue Record
- Thomas White
- Papers of Thomas White
- Date Range
- Collection Number
- MS 9148 et al
- 8.8 metres (49 boxes, 1 carton, 2 folio boxes)
- Language of Materials
- National Library of Australia
Scope and Contents
Dating mostly from the 1920s onwards, they include diaries, photographs, reports, writings, broadcasts, speeches, cutting books, official correspondence and letters exchanged with family and friends, as well as a large number of more ephemeral items such as brochures, invitations and programs.
White's periods of service as a RAAF pilot and Australian High Commissioner in London, including the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, are particularly well documented. Papers recording White's membership of Cabinet as Minister for Trade and Customs (and his resignation from the Lyons Ministry in 1938), and Minister for Air and Civil Aviation are also strongly represented. In addition, White maintained an active association with a number of social service and special interest organisations, such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Royal Life Saving Society and Australian Aero Club. His longstanding concern with immigration is reflected in files relating to the Royal Empire Society and Fairbridge Farm Schools, whilst other folders document the Empire Air Training Scheme, his membership of the RAAF Escaping Society and interest in early aviation. An important element of the collection is also the many photographs which are dispersed through the series, particularly the Australia House period in the 1950s.
The majority of papers were received in the Library in boxes arranged according to rough annual groupings, and some attempt had been made by family members to renew old files and add extra information where useful. Whilst the internal composition of files has been retained, folders have been further sorted by Manuscript staff into series to reflect the successive aspects of White's career. The original file titles have been used where appropriate; in a large number of instances, however, where titles did not accurately reflect contents, new folder descriptions have been created.
Conditions Governing Access
Please refer to the collection's catalogue record for the access conditions (http://nla.gov.au/nla.cat-vn1516685).
Conditions Governing Use
Copying and publishing of unpublished manuscript material is subject to copyright restrictions. For such material, written permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). Copying of unpublished material for research purposes is permissible 50 years after the death of the creator of the material.
Items from this collection should be cited as '[Title or description of manuscript item], Papers of Thomas White, National Library of Australia, [class number, box number and series and/or file number]'.
The papers were donated to the Library by White's daughters in two consignments in January 1997 and March 1998, and together constitute an impressive record of White's varied and distinguished career as a pilot, politician, diplomat and writer.
In addition to the papers contained in MS 9148, a poem written in honour of White upon relinquishing his position of Australian High Commissioner in London is housed at MS 3074. A London cable from White to Billy Hughes, and a 1951 letter from Chilean Defence Minister Ernesto Merino-Segura to White, are filed at MS 1557 and MS 4936 respectively.
A chair formerly belonging to Sir Henry Parkes, and presented to the Australian Government by the Lord Mayor of London Sir Leslie Boyce whilst White was High Commissioner, is displayed in the Manuscript Reading Room.
Films taken by White while Minister for Trade and Customs during a trade delegation to England in 1938, as Commanding Officer of the RAAF Initial Training School in 1940, and when High Commissioner, have been deposited with the National Film and Sound Archive.
Finding Aid Source(s)
Please note: This finding aid may comprise or contain descriptive information provided by donors, researchers and/or volunteers.
Collection Retrieval Advice
Please note: each consignment in this collection has a separate box number sequence (i.e. there may be multiple Box 1s). Please cite the relevant Class number as well as the Box number when requesting retrieval of material from the collection.
White also served on the Board of Governors, College of Aeronautics; Member of the Governing Body, Imperial College of Science and Technology; Board of Governors, Imperial Institute; and was founder and President of the Australian Musical Society.
|1888||Born 26 April, North Melbourne, the son of Charles J. White|
|c. 1895-1905||Educated at Moreland Street School and privately|
|1914||Founder, Australian Aero Club|
|1915-19||Served in World War I, Australian Flying Corps, with Australia's first overseas flying unit. Captured by the Turks near Baghdad 1915 and escaped via Russia, 1918.|
|1919||Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross|
|1920||Married Vera Deakin, 22 March, youngest daughter of Alfred Deakin|
|1920-32||Managing Director, C.J. White and Sons, lock manufacturers, Melbourne|
|1925||President, Melbourne Legacy Club|
|1925-27||President, Victorian Secretary and Federal Chairman of the Australian Aero Club|
|1926-31||Commander (Lieutenant-Colonel), 6th Battalion, Royal Melbourne Regiment|
|1928||Published Guests of the unspeakable: the odyssey of an Australian airman, being a record of captivity and escape in Turkey|
|1929-51||Member of the House of Representatives for Balaclava, Victoria|
|1933-38||Minister for Trade and Customs in Lyons Government (resigned 8 November 1938)|
|1934||Undertook study tour of Queensland primary industries|
|1934-51||President, Royal Life Saving Society Victorian Branch and Chairman, Australian Federal Council|
|1936||Visited New Guinea to advise on civil aviation and secure bounties for tropical industries|
|1937||Led official economic mission to New Zealand|
|1938||One of three Ministerial Delegates to visit the United Kingdom for the re-writing of the Ottawa Agreement; represented Australia at Evian Refugee Conference|
|1938||Following resignation from Lyons Ministry, founded the Protect Australia League|
|1940||Commanding Officer, RAAF, No. 1 Initial Training School, Somers, Victoria (Flight Lieutenant)|
|1941-43||Commanding Officer, RAF Stations, Bournemouth and Brighton, England (Wing-Commander, 1941; Group Captain, 1943)|
|1943||Published poem Sky saga: a story of Empire airmen|
|1944||Retired from airforce on medical grounds|
|1949-51||Minister for Air and Civil Aviation in Menzies Government|
|1951-56||Australian High Commissioner in London|
|1957||Died Melbourne, 13 November|
Comprises comprises papers documenting most aspects of Thomas White's distinguished career, including material relating to the Australian Flying Corps, 1919-1940; 6th Battalion (Royal Melbourne Regiment), 1912-1931; Member for Balaclava, 1924-1953; Minister for Trade and Customs, 1933-1938; RAAF and RAF service, 1919-1956; Minister for Air and Civil Aviation, 1949-1951; Australian High Commissioner in London, 1951-1956; writings, 1928-1956; Australian Aero Club and civil aviation, 1920-1988; Melbourne Legacy Club, 1924-1957; Royal Flying Doctor Service, 1927-1983; British Empire Service League, 1953-1957; and, Royal Empire Society, 1938-1958. The collection includes diaries, photographs, reports, broadcasts, speeches, cutting books, official correspondence, letters from family and friends, together with ephemeral items such as brochures, invitations and programs.
Contained in 36 boxes, 1 carton, 2 fol. boxes.
For most periods of his working life White kept a sequence of pocket diaries in which he recorded appointments, phone numbers and addresses of contacts, and notes of a miscellaneous nature. From time to time he maintained more detailed diaries, usually associated with a significant event or trip. Examples found in this series include records made of some episodes of 1945 (including an official visit to Western Australia and Vera White's illness) and White's visit to Malta as Australian High Commissioner to Britain in 1954.
A diary kept by White during his official visit to New Zealand in 1937 is filed in Series 7; extracts from his 1942 war diary are located in Series 8.
White was devoted to his wife Vera, to whom he wrote regular and often lengthy letters whilst away in Canberra attending Parliament, undertaking ministerial duties or on official overseas visits. His letters cover a range of personal, family and work-related matters, and often contain detailed impressions of his experiences as a parliamentarian and government minister.
In addition to these family letters, a long sequence of condolence letters received by Lady White after Sir Thomas' death in 1957 is filed at the end of this series. Correspondents include Sir John Latham and Harold Holt.
Other letters from Sir Thomas to Lady White can be found in Series 3; cables and correspondence from White to his family whilst overseas during World War II are are located in Series 8.
White did not maintain a separate filing system for his various correspondents; instead letters sent and received were often dispersed singly or in groups amongst an assortment of other papers. Consequently, files in this series are largely general in nature, with correspondence interfiled amongst other miscellaneous items such as reports, cuttings, speech notes, broadcasts and invitations and pamphlets.
Among the politicians, airforce colleagues, and British associates whose letters can be found here are Prime Ministers Joseph Lyons and Sir Robert Menzies, fellow parliamentarians H.V. Evatt, Frank Brennan, William Hutchinson and George McLeay, the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Leslie Boyce, and balletomane Arnold Haskell. A fragment of an undated letter from Pattie Deakin (White's mother-in-law) is filed in Folder 7.
Amongst the varied subjects represented are papers relating to the Expeditionary Air Force, immigration, trade, civil aviation, Empire Air Training Scheme, White's resignation from the Lyons Ministry, electoral papers, Caulfield RSL and the Bread and Cheese Club.
The series also includes a few papers added since Sir Thomas' death, such as a 1965 letter to Lady White and a 1992 letter to their daughter, Judith Harley.
Correspondence, 1930-51, chiefly with British parliamentary and airforce contacts including letters from the Earl of Winterton regarding Expeditionary Air Force, Lady Madeline Lees, White's niece Marjorie, Mary Somerville, B. Dutton Briant, Arnold Haskell, refugees V. Rosik and F. Secky, Lord Llewellin, Will Strickland, Sidney Parker, Lord Lyle, Horace Chinery, Alex Gordon, Celia Macdonald of the Isles, Leslie Boyce, Steve Bartlett, L.S. Amery and others. The folders also contain papers pertaining to the Empire Industries Association, contents of food parcels for England, free trade and Armenian relief appeal leaflets (File 1-2) - Box 3
Papers, 1914-88, including clippings and correspondence, notes on rights of prisoners of war, letter concerning White's resignation from the Lyons ministry, The Times review of Australia (published March 1952 but not distributed due to death of King George VI), printed map of Australian Army operations (1940-45), election card for Constance Duncan, Independent candidate for Balaclava (File 3) - Box 4
Papers, 1919-67, including reply to remarks by Frank Brennan on AIF recruitment, returned soldiers preference question, broadcast for Develop Australia League on protection and patriotism, joint Opposition policy (1949), list of proposed titles for Guests of the unspeakable, clipping concerning White's resignation from Cabinet, material relating to Royal Empire Society appeal, Evatt's leadership, Senate functions, British immigration, Empire Air Training Scheme, British-Australian trade, the British Empire League and Australian Industries Protection League (File 4) - Box 4
Papers, 1920-56, including photographs of Anzac Day ceremonies (c. 1921-24), letter to Vera White (1932), war poems, copy of letter to Prime Minister Lyons on Cabinet restructure (1938), notes on Maribyrnong preselection, brochures about aspects of the Commonwealth, clippings on the retirement of White as High Commissioner, article on history of Australia House (File 5) - Box 4
Papers, 1924-52, including speech notes following declaration of election poll (1929), draft letter to Senator Pearce on policy matters (1929), draft speech to Develop Australia League on protection and patriotism, circular outlining races of Southern Rhodesia, bomber aircraft, Boomerang Club, extract of letter to William Hutchinson concerning Empire Air Training Scheme, together with other correspondence from British airforce contacts (File 6) - Box 4
Papers, 1925-56, 1965, 1992 including correspondence with Alex Bagot, speech notes at opening of Australian Artists' Association exhibition, letter to Judith Harley (1992), fragment of undated letter from Pattie Deakin, letter to Vera White (1965), photographs, notes on British Empire, newspaper reports of 6th Battalion (Royal Melbourne Regiment) (File 7) - Box 4
Papers, 1929-57, including correspondence and papers regarding Bread and Cheese Club, Hansard extracts on returned soldiers, supervision of compulsory training, book censorship and 1930-31 estimates, Report of Informal Conference of Empire Parliamentary Association (1934), newspaper report on Lyons Cabinet restructure (File 8) - Box 4
Papers, 1929-52, including miscellaneous correspondence, notebook containing draft writings, history of Australian Aero Club, clippings on book censorship, speech notes for address to war rally (1941), account of Rabaul volcanic eruption (1937), election material for seat of Balaclava, letters and clippings relating to RAAF training in Britain, photographs of visits to pineapple and cotton plantations at Kingaroy and Biloela, Queensland, statement on reasons for retirement from public life (1941), Dutch aviation brochures (File 9) - Box 4
Papers, 1931-56, including speech notes, letter to Evatt concerning Empire Air Scheme, short note from R.G. Menzies, miscellaneous invitations, visit to Royal Air Force Station, Dishforth, correspondence as High Commissioner, letter to Senator George McLeay regarding motor vehicle manufacture, air race papers, Australian Flying Corps Association circular, information regarding establishment of Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and Australian aircraft manufacture, Caulfield RSL constitution, de Havilland and Sabre aircraft brochures, Protect Australia League, returned soldiers preference question (File 10) - Box 5
Papers, 1937-78, including speech on Empire Parliamentary Association, Caulfield RSL, The story of the Air Beef Project in North West Australia, address by Sir Archdale Parkhill on Australian aircraft manufacture, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Victorian Section bulletin (July 1978), article about TAA and Flying Doctor Service, various issues of Empire Industries Association and British Empire League monthly bulletin, correspondence concerning visit to No. 30 Squadron, Yorkshire, United Empire (July-August 1943), The British Australian New Zealander (1942) (File 11) - Box 5
During World War I White served with the Australian Flying Corps where he quickly earned a reputation for his skilled piloting. In 1914, he was one of four officers chosen to undertake initial training at Point Cook, and was appointed to Half Flight (the first Australian Flying Corps unit) on overseas duty. In 1915 while employed on a bombing raid of Turkish communication posts with British Army observer Captain Francis Yeats-Brown, they were captured by the Turks outside Baghdad. After a three years as a prisoner of war White escaped in 1918 as a stowaway on a Russian-bound ship to Odessa, rejoining British forces at Salonika. In later life he recorded details of his escape in the often reprinted Guests of the unspeakable and gave many lectures to interested groups on his wartime experiences.
Other papers relating to White's service with the Australian Flying Corps are filed in Series 3; draft manuscripts and reviews of Guests of the unspeakable can be found in Series 11. Correspondence with Yeats-Brown, who survived the war to write the best-selling autobiography Bengal lancer, is located in Series 7.
White took up his commission as Commander of the 6th Battalion (Royal Melbourne Regiment) in 1926. Filed in this series are correspondence, reports and other papers recording aspects of his command, before his transfer to the Unattached List in 1932.
Additional papers relating to the Royal Melbourne Regiment are filed in Series 3.
White's entry into Federal politics began with an unsuccessful candidature for the safe Labor seat of Maribyrnong in November 1925. In August 1929 he won a by-election for the bayside seat of Balaclava which he held, first as a Nationalist then as a Liberal, until 1951. He returned to Australia whilst on active service during World War II to recontest the 1943 election.
The folders contain a range of material documenting White's political activities and interests, and include copies of letters exchanged between Robert Menzies and Earle Page in 1939, White's 1946 suspension from Parliament, 'This Week in Canberra' radio transcripts, a letter from William Hutchinson concerning the 1943 leadership ballot, and a comprehensive run of White's parliamentary speeches from 1932 to 1951.
Additional papers documenting White's activities as Member for Balaclava are filed in Series 3 and 7.
Papers, 1924-36, including correspondence and cuttings documenting White's early political career and candidature for the seat of Maribyrnong, notes on annual meeting of Melbourne Branch of the ? Reform League, together with items relating to aviation, communism, international finance, banking, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, industrial relations and Labor Party policies (File 1) - Box 6
Papers, 1924-51, including tariffs, military enlistment, speech notes, defence, expeditionary forces, parliamentary suspension, copies of letters exchanged between Robert Menzies and Earle Page (1939), miscellaneous cables and correspondence, transcript of first broadcast by White (1924), letters concerning White's resignation from the Lyons Ministry, coal strikes, returned soldiers preference question, extract from typescript 'Labour [sic] in government' and other non-parliamentary matters (File 2-4) - Box 6, 7
White served as Minister for Trade and Customs in the Lyons Government between 1933 and 1938. During this period he dealt with a number of dominant politicial issues such as tariff reduction (which was subject to long and embittered debates in Parliament), and vigorously defended the book censorship regulations of the Customs Act.
Also included in this series are papers documenting the many official visits which White undertook as Minister, including a 1934 study tour of Queensland primary industries, 1936 trip to New Guinea to advise on civil aviation and secure bounties for tropical industries, and 1937 trade mission to New Zealand. Other papers record White's visit to London as one of three Ministerial Delegates to participate in the 1938 Imperial Conference (to discuss trade matters arising out of the Ottawa Agreement), and subsequent attendance at the International Refugee Conference in Evian, France (convened for the purpose of facilitating the departure of oppressed minorities, especially Jews, from Germany and Austria).
On 8 November 1938 White resigned from the Ministry over disagreements on defence policy and the structure of the reconstituted Lyons Cabinet. A copy of his letter of resignation and Lyon's reply are located in Folder 27, whilst a number of other files contain correspondence and cuttings in response to the episode. Copies of the constitution, objectives and other papers of the Protect Australia League, which White founded after his resignation, can be found in Folders 33 and 54, together with a small amount of material located in Series 3.
A photograph of members of the Australian and New Zealand trade delegations to the Imperial Conference is filed in Series 8; other papers relating to White's resignation can be found in Series 3, 6 and 8.
Papers and correspondence, 1937, including Empire Airmail Scheme, resolutions of meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers regarding youth employment and training, Australia-New Zealand trade, statement by Prime Minister Lyons on Imperial Conference and associated papers, speech to the Australian Women's National League on domestic and international trade, circular on the economic record of the Lyons' Government (File 31) - Box 12
Correspondence and papers, 1937-44, 1951, including application by Enterprise of New Guinea for petroleum exploration permit, correspondence between Protector of Aborigines and Torres Strait Pearlshellers Association concerning use of Papuan labour in the pearlshelling industry, correspondence with Michael Terry of the Royal Geographical Society and H.B. Borwick, clippings, speech notes, constitution and objectives of the Protect Australia League, letters received on resignation from Lyons Ministry, publication Islands apart-united with references to White (File 33) - Box 12
Papers and correspondence, 1937, including speeches and other items regarding Federal election, Ottawa Agreement, comical sketch of Prime Minister Lyons at Imperial Conference, establishment of Palestine, notes on US-Australia trade, Australian foreign policy, foreword for The Australasian manufacturer, prohibition on export of scrap steel (File 38) - Box 13
Miscellaneous papers, 1935-50, including correspondence, speech notes, RAAF matters, Meet Your Writers' Organisation, opium seizure, tariff policy, letter from White's secretary, D. Guthrie, Silver Jubilee of King George V, account of visit of Federal Cabinet to Western Australia, press releases, Australia-New Zealand trade, sugar industry, wine and grape industry (File 47-48) - Box 14
Clippings and papers, 1930-38, principally relating to trade and customs matters, speech notes for address given at rally for friends and supporters after White's resignation from Lyons' Ministry, motor vehicle manufacture, wine industry, koala exports, newsprint bounty, trade negotiations with Great Britain and New Zealand, returned soldiers' preference scheme (File 52-53) - Box 15
During World War II White served in both the RAAF and RAF, commanding RAF stations at Bournemouth and Brighton, England and rising to the rank of Group Captain. Papers in this series begin by recording his command from April 1940 of the No. 1 Initial Training School at Somers, Victoria (established as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme). A 1942 war diary provides some account of his flights on overseas RAAF missions between September 1941 and August 1943, after which time he was appointed head of Allied, Australian and New Zealand airforces at the RAF Station, Brighton, England. There he supervised the training of overseas air crews, attended RAF Intelligence Schools, ran reconnaissance flights and (over age and against orders) flew as second pilot in command with the Lancaster Bomber Squadron in missions over the Ruhr. Draft recollections of the German bombing operations are located in Folders 13 and 27. He retired from service on medical grounds in December 1944.
Whilst overseas White retained his Federal seat and an active interest in political affairs, returning to Australia to recontest elections. This series also contains some of the cables and correspondence through which he maintained contact with political colleagues in Australia, including comments made from his posting on the Militia Bill. Also of interest is a sequence of White's correspondence with his secretary, Anne Howell, and a folder of papers documenting his membership of the RAF Escaping Society (formed in 1945 of Royal and Allied Air Force crew who successfully escaped from or evaded enemy capture).
A further group of files contain research notes and other historical papers which appear to have been brought together for a proposed autobiography that White had begun researching before his death.
Other papers relating to White's RAAF and RAF service are filed in Series 3, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 12.
RAF and RAAF general file, 1939-53, including World War II photographs (and picture of members of the Australian and New Zealand trade delegations, 1938), personal correspondence, liaison with Australian contacts, clippings, annotated typescript manuscript of Sky saga, officer roll, RAAF Personnel Reception Centre, Bournemouth, comments on the Militia Bill (File 5) - Box 16
RAAF and other airforce papers, 1940-47, including items relating to No. 1 Squadron Training School, personnel matters, certificate of introduction signed by Prime Minister Arthur Fadden, personal correspondence including letters from political colleagues in Australia, cable to family from RAF Station, Brighton, clippings (File 17-18) - Box 17, 18
RAAF news items and papers, 1931-46, including other letters from air crews, typescript manuscript of RAAF history, photograph of air force funeral, German war leaflet, cuttings, statement by Frank Forde (Minister for the Army) on Australian prisoners of war, letter from W. Hutchinson concerning the Militia Bill (File 22-23) - Box 18
Notes and papers, 1920-44, including material used for 'World War II chapter', clippings, No. 1 Initial Training School, Somers, RAAF Staff School, Mt Martha, personnel matters, demotion of pilots on return to Australia, recommendations for Distinguished Service Order and promotions (File 26) - Box 19
In December 1949, as a member of the Menzies Liberal Government, White became Minister for Air and Civil Aviation. He served in the position until May 1951, resigning from Parliament in June to take up appointment as Australian High Commissioner in London.
Included in papers in this series are items relating to White's participation in the 1950 International Civil Aviation Organisation Conference in Montreal, the national service debate, civil aviation training and Australian air links with New Zealand, Japan and Korea.
Further papers documenting White's period as Air Minister and his lifelong interest in civil aviation matters are located in Series 12.
Papers, c. 1941-57, chiefly relating to civil and international aviation, together with copy of Daily telegraph obituary for White, RAAF Station, Williamstown, Torquay background : the Havana Charter, GATT and the ITO (1950), correspondence with J.J. Brophy concerning the 'Miller' industrial relations case, International Civil Aviation Organisation Conference, Montreal (1950), clippings, appointment of Chairman of Australian National Airlines Commission (File 8) - Box 20
White served as Australian High Commissioner to London from 1951 to 1956. Included in this series is a comprehensive sequence of correspondence exchanged with Prime Minister Robert Menzies during the term of the appointment, together with letters from a range of contacts such as Douglas Bader, Hubert Opperman and Sir Dallas Brooks. Also included are folders documenting White's official visits to Egypt, Greece and Turkey to attend war dedication ceremonies, and a 1952 visit to Berlin.
Other items of interest include a record of interviews with departmental heads John Crawford and Alan Watt, and External Affairs Minister Richard Casey on policy matters, together with a large amount of material concerning British migration. Additional papers document the 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and London Post-Coronation Ministers Conference, and the 1954 Royal Tour of Australia. The series also includes a number of miscellaneous issues of the newsletters of the Australian-British Cobbers' Club and the Australian Musical Association (White was founder and president of the latter).
Series 1, 3, 18 and 19 also contain material documenting White's role as High Commissioner.
Miscellaneous papers, 1951-56, including migration pamphlet, speech on Colombo Plan, correspondence, speeches, invitations, notes of interviews with John Crawford (Commerce Department Secretary), Alan Watt (External Affairs Secretary) and Richard Casey (Minister for External Affairs), war reminiscences, Australian-British relations, White Australia Policy, petroleum industry (File 9-10) - Box 22
Correspondence and papers, 1951-57, including notes on Australian, United States and European defences, The rule of reciprocity (1954), speech notes, Australian record of war service in Korea, invitations, clippings, letters from Lord Baillieu, Douglas Bader, Charles Beere, Hubert Opperman, Sir Dallas Brooks and others (File 12) - Box 22
Papers, 1952-57, including brochures on Australia and the Commonwealth, newsletters of Australian-British Cobbers' Club, schedule of visit to South Africa and Rhodesia (1953), photographs taken on return of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh from Australian tour (1954) and inspection of RAF Station, Horsham, special Australian supplement to Foreign Office newspaper Englischerundschau (1953), programs and articles (File 39) - Box 26
In addition to his various official appointments, White was also known as a writer, and published a number of literary pieces, including wartime reminiscences, verse plays, newspaper articles and other commissioned works.
Details of his capture by the Turks in Mesopotamia, subsequent experiences as a prisoner of war and eventual escape via Russia were recorded in the best selling Guests of the unspeakable : the odyssey of an Australian airman, first published in 1928 and reprinted on a number of occasions. A partial handwritten draft of this account is filed here, together with a number of press reviews of the work.
Between 1929 and 1938 White acted as Australian correspondent for the Morning Post (London), for which he was engaged to provide general news stories from all parts of Australia and any political items of interest to British readers. His journalistic output is documented in a series of files containing letters and cables, together with a number of despatches tracing the history of the Scullin Ministry and financial troubles of 1931.
In 1943 Sky saga : a story of Empire airmen, White's popular tribute in verse to Allied pilots, was first published and broadcast on ABC and BBC radio. The poem was reprinted in two further editions, and prompted many favourable reviews and letters, some of which are located in this series.
Also filed here are folders containing draft papers for a brief history of the Australian Air Force in both wars (commissioned by the Australian junior encyclopaedia in 1945), typescript reminiscences of his 1936 trip to New Guinea, and notes and papers collated for his proposed autobiography.
Further papers relating to Guests of the unspeakable, Sky saga and Australian junior encyclopaedia article can be found in Series 3, 8 and 11 respectively.
White maintained a lifelong interest in aviation, founding the Australian Aero Club in 1914, and serving as its Victorian Section President and Federal Chairman between 1925 and 1927. In addition to materials documenting Club activities, this series includes a sequence of papers concerning the establishment of an air service from the mainland to Tasmania in 1926, but subsequently abandoned due to want of a government subsidy. Also of interest is a copy of a proposal by Charles Ulm for the Trans-Pacific flight which ended in his death in 1934, materials relating to the 1931 loss of the 'Southern Cloud', a souvenir dinner program in honour of Bert Hinkler's solo 1928 England-Australia flight, as well as items relating to early air races and gliding history.
Further papers relating to Australian Aero Club activities are contained in Series 3.
The Melbourne Legacy Club was established in 1923, the first of many Legacy groups to be formed in the Commonwealth. White was active in foundation of the Club, serving as its third President from 1925-26, and returning periodically as a guest speaker at its meetings.
An early champion of the potential use of aviation, White was a member of the Australian Inland Mission Aerial Medical Service Committee which first convened in August 1927. He was present at the Committee's inaugural meeting (minutes of which are filed in Folder 1), and was also active in the foundation of the Victorian Section in 1934, serving as its President until 1951. Papers of interest here include two letters from the Reverend John Flynn, minutes of meetings, grant applications, and photographs documenting different aspects of the early days of the Flying Doctor Service.
Further items recording the history of the Service can be found in Series 3.
Papers, 1927-56, including photograph and account of unveiling ceremony for Tennant Creek cairn, Aerial Medical Service and Flying Doctor Service minutes, views of Defence Department on Aerial Medical Service, papers regarding federal subsidy to Flying Doctor Service, correspondence, cuttings, brochures (File 2) - Box 32
White was elected Victorian Branch President of the Royal Life Saving Society in 1934, and concurrently served as Chairman of the Australian Federal Council to 1951.
Amongst other papers this series includes letters, speech notes, reports, programs and cuttings detailing aspects of the Society's calendar, as well as liaison with other branches of the Society in Australia and England. In 1942 White was honoured with a Vice-Presidency of the Central Organisation in London in recognition of his valuable service, recorded on a special certificate filed in Folder 1.
The British Empire Service League was established in England in the interwar period as the peak body of all dominion and colonial returned service organisations. Whilst stationed in London as Australian High Commissioner, White was elected to the League's Council in 1951, and served as Chairman from April 1953 to May 1956.
This series contains a short run of correspondence and reports relating to White's administration, together with resolutions of the League's 12th and 13th Biennial Conferences, held in 1953 and 1955.
Other papers concerning League activities are filed in Series 3.
Chiefly comprising papers relating to the Victorian Branch of the Society (of which White was appointed President in September 1956), this series also incorporates documentation relating to the New South Wales and London arms of the organisation.
Founded to promote preservation of permanent ties between Britain and other parts of the Empire, the papers gathered by White reflect the primary concern of Australian branches to encourage and assist British immigration.
Other items relating to the Society's endeavours can be found in Series 3, 8 and 20.
In addition to the cuttings files and albums preserved in this series, a large number of loose clippings which White collected on an array of subject interests can be found filed throughout his papers.
The series mostly contains mounted photographs and albums, including some wartime aviation pictures, a few group photos taken at official dinners early in White's parliamentary career, and a larger number of images depicting aspects of White's period as High Commissioner in the 1950s.
In addition to the pictures filed here, numerous individual photographs are located amongst papers scattered throughout the various series.
Publications, 1927-57, including The case for protection : Australian speakers' notes, Australian Aerial Medical Services (Victorian Section) memorandum and articles of association, souvenir program of Australia's 150th anniversary celebrations, various issues of Royal Empire Society (Victorian Branch) news, together with letter to Legatee, Lionel Harvey, 1942 (File 1) - Box 36
Comprises diaries, correspondence, photographs, cuttings, files on White's military career and writings, mementoes, souvenirs and early school records.
Contained in 8 boxes.