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Albert TRAIL


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Gunner 1271 23y1m 4 May 1915 19 Jul 1919 3

Gunner Albert Trail (1891 - 1961)

Trail Brothers Booklet

The Trail Family from Aberdeen

In the Merrington Anzac Memorial Peace Chapel the names of brothers Albert Trail and Eric Trail are listed on the honour board which was unveiled by Rev. Dr Ernest Merrington on 23 September 1917.

Albert and Eric were sons of David and Annie Trail who came to Queensland from Aberdeen, Scotland on board the ship Gulf of Carpentaria in 1885.  Their first three children accompanied them, Jean aged 3, Annie 2 and baby David.  In Queensland, four more children joined the family: Charles Smith, Dora, Albert and Eric.

Mr David Trail was an engineer and company manager. He held responsible positions in Walkers Limited of Maryborough before managing the Eagle Farm Meatworks until 1898 when he left to manage his own company, Trails Limited Newstead. The company operated a warehouse for cold storage and refrigeration and traded as carcass butchers and wholesale and retail fishmongers.

Link to Saint Andrew's

The Trail family home was called Balgownie, situated in Gibbon Street, Teneriffe.  They worshipped at Wickham Terrace Presbyterian Church which became Saint Andrew’s in 1905.

One of Mr and Mrs Trail’s daughters (Jean Robertson Trail) in 1904 married Andrew Lind, one of the sons of the firm Alexander Lind and Sons, the building contractors who built Saint Andrew’s Church from 1903 to 1905.  

Mr David Trail died on 30 November 1939 and his widow, Mrs Annie Trail on 14 October 1946.

This is the story of Gunner Albert Trail who was a younger son.

Early life

Albert Trail was born in Maryborough on 16 August 1891, fourth in the family and third son of David Trail and Annie (née Robertson).  While still an infant Albert moved with his family to live in the suburb of Teneriffe in Brisbane.  He was employed as an engine driver, probably in his father’s company, in the years 1913, 1914 and 1915.

Enlistment

Albert enlisted in Brisbane to serve in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 4 May 1915 when he named his mother as next-of-kin, his occupation as foreman and his religious denomination as Presbyterian.  Private Albert Trail, regimental number 1271, was appointed to join 9th reinforcements for the 5th Light Horse Regiment.

Albert's unit embarked from the Port of Brisbane on board (His Majesty’s Australian Transport) HMAT Hymettus on 17 September. On arrival at Egypt, he camped at Maadi while undergoing training in preparation for active service in the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front.  Private Trail was transferred to the 14th Field Artillery Brigade on 27 March 1916 and travelled to France via Marseilles.

Artillery brigades were formed to support infantry brigades and were equipped with 18 pounder field guns and 4.5 inch howitzers.  Brigades were organised in sections called batteries and A. Trail, now ranked as a gunner, was posted to the 55th battery.  With a range of about 6,500 yards (almost 6km) these guns fired a range of ammunition including high explosive fragmentation, shrapnel, smoke, gas, star (illumination) and armour piercing projectiles.

The war diaries of the 55th battery of the 14th FAB tell of highly dangerous work in battles at Fromelles in July 1916:

“... howitzers fired 25 rounds each at Fromelles as retaliation from enemy bombardment at Fleurbaix; enemy artillery very active all day destroying Vine Cottage and demolishing church at Fleurbaix; batteries fired 40 rounds each at approach lines between 3pm and 9pm; enemy very quiet until now1.” 

Other accounts told of orders to perform wire cutting by firing on battery communication trenches.  Gunner Albert Trail survived battles under such conditions till the Armistice on 11 November 1918.

One period in hospital is recorded during December 1916 and January 1917 while he was treated for influenza.

Return to Australia

In January 1919, the war was over but Gunner Albert Trail was fined for absence without leave for which his “award” was forfeiture of 21 days’ pay and field punishment over a period of 7 days.  He returned to Australia from England on board Tras-Os-Montes and was discharged from the AIF on 19 July 1919. Gunner A. Trail was awarded the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal for his services in the Great War.

Post war

Until 1925 Albert Trail lived at home with his parents and siblings at Teneriffe and resumed his work as an engine driver, later becoming a fireman.  On 8 July 1925 he married Lillian Ada May Witt in Brisbane. The couple settled at Edmondstone Street, Mayne where they remained for the rest of their lives.  

Albert Trail died on 14 September 1961 aged 70 years and Mrs Lillian Trail died in 1974.


Footnotes
1. 14th Australian Artillery Brigade War Diaries, July 1916. Australian War Memorial
  
References
• National Archives of Australia, military records, World War 1
• Australian War Memorial - Unit histories, Embarkation Rolls, World War 1
• Ancestry, on line
• Queensland State Archives, shipping arrivals, passenger lists, Wills Index
• Saint Andrew’s Uniting Church Archives, Brisbane, Annual Reports 1901-1925 - Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
• Queensland Register of Births, Deaths, Marriages
Maryborough Chronicle, 7 December, 1939, page 10
The Telegraph, Brisbane, 30 November 1939, page 12; 9 June 1913, page 11
The Week, Brisbane, 15 July 1904, page 18
Brisbane Courier, 27 May 1914, page 17; 23 August 1930; 27 June 1903, page 3
Daily Mail, Brisbane, 8 February 1925, page 8
• Australian Electoral Rolls, 1913 – 1958
• State Library of Queensland – images where cited

Compiled by Noel E. Adsett, Brisbane.  August 2016.

 

 

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