Bert Gilby, 19th Infantry Battalion

Bert enlisted in the AIF in February 1915, having arrived in Australia, a little more than a year before. He had left behind in England his parents Fred and Mary, and siblings Arthur and Ethel.

Assigned as a private to the 19th Infantry Battalion, he sailed from Sydney Harbour in June 1915, on the troopship Ceramic bound for Egypt, unaware of the intended landing of forces on the Gallipoli peninsula.

The 19th Battalion was withdrawn on the night of the 19th December 1915, this was when Private Gilby was wounded for the first time - hit in the head by shrapnel he was evacuated to Alexandria, where he spent Christmas 1915 recuperating.

Rejoining his Unit in France, Private Gilby was wounded in the wrist in 1916 and in the legs in October 1917. Evacuated to hospital, he remained in England until being returned to Australia in January 1919.

We can follow Bert’s movements after he was demobilised by referring to the Australian Electoral Rolls, in 1919 he was living at Burton's Victoria Coffee Palace, South Brisbane.

He gained work in Warwick and later Innisfail, at the South Johnstone sugar mill, before sailing to England in 1926, to visit his family in Hull. He returned to Innisfail and later married Gladys Young in 1929.

Bert and Gladys made a life for themselves in north Queensland, first in Babinda, then they moved to Stratford, Cairns after the Second World War. Bert was a member of the Australian Labour Party, and called upon his fellow members to help him out with a financial matter in 1947, the request went all the way to the Prime Minister of the day, Ben Chifley.


Herbert Gilby’s two items were donated by staff at the Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Cairns, he died age 93 in 1981. Gladys died age 87, in 1983 and is remembered at the Albany Creek Cemetery in Brisbane.

Thanks to Reuben Hillier for uncovering Bert's collection.

Marg Powell
QANZAC 100 Content Technician
State Library of Queensland


We welcome relevant, respectful comments.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.
We also welcome direct feedback via Contact Us.
You may also want to ask our librarians.

Be the first to write a comment