Matron Jessie McHardie White, AANS, MID, RRC, MBE, enlisted in the AANS (Australian Army Nursing Service) on 20 October 1914. About 2,203 women served in the AANS in World War I. Candidates in the AANS had to have at least three years' training in medical and surgical nursing in a duly recognised hospital, and be aged 21 to 45 years. They had to be either unmarried or widowed.
Born at Yarra Flats, near Healesville, in 1870, she married T.J. White in 1893. Following his death in 1896 she trained as a nurse at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and over the next decade gained a senior position in one of Melbourne's private hospitals. Her entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography describes her as 'Efficient and self-reliant,' making particular note of her work as Matron of the British general hospitals' 1 No. Unit at Salonica from mid 1917 to early 1919 (ADB, Vol.12, p.471). Her awards from Greece and Serbia (see below) were received in recognition of this work.
White was Principal Matron in the AANS when she was awarded the Royal Red Cross in 1916. Principal Matron was second in rank in the AANS to Matron-in-Chief. Matrons, sisters and staff nurses served beneath the Principal Matron.
White's award was published in the London Gazette 3 June 1916, page 5579, position 2 and the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 21 September 1916, page 2622, position 32. She was also mentioned in Dispatches published in the London Gazette 21 June 1916, page 6184, position 61 and the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 21 September 1916, page 2624, position 69. She was again mentioned in Dispatches published in the London Gazette 11 June 1918, page 6926, position 2 and the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 7 November 1918, page 2112, position 26.
White was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1918. She left the service on 14 May 1919.
After the war White received the Greece Medal for Military Merit, published in the London Gazette 16 January 1920, page 704, position 1 and Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 1 April 1920, page 546, position 12. She also received the Serbia Order of St Sava - 5th Class, published in the London Gazette 16 January 1920, page 707, position 1 and Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 1 April 1920, page 546, position 13. She also received a War Service Star (NU 21089).
First World War Nominal Roll http://www.awm.gov.au/database/133/page.asp?folder=56&page=30&surname=white,%20j
Smith, Neil C. (1966). The Australian Army Nursing Service.
Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 12, pp.470-471.