Frank Alberry

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Frank Alberry
Born 29 September 1892
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Died 1969 (aged 77)
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Infantry; aviation
Years of service 1914-1919
Rank Second lieutenant
Unit 8th Battalion, AIF, No. 2 Squadron AFC
Awards Distinguished Conduct Medal
Other work Recruiting duty during World War II

Second lieutenant Frank Alberry had a varied military career. Before the First World War, he served in the Welsh Regiment of the British Army, but deserted. He joined up again in the early days of the First World War, and went on to serve heroically with the 8th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force. After service at Gallipoli, he joined the British Expeditionary Force in France. He won a Distinguished Conduct Medal at the Battle of Pozières, but lost a lower leg in the process. Alberry took the extraordinary step of personally petitioning King George V for permission to transfer to aviation, and subsequently became a flying ace credited with seven aerial victories.

Alberry returned to service during the Second World War as a recruiter.

Early life[edit]

Frank Alberry was born on 29 September 1892 in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia;[1] his father was G. F. Alberry. The younger Alberry lived in Port Arthur, Tasmania, when young.[2] He worked his passage to England as a ship's engineer steward when a youth[3] and enlisted in the British Army's Welsh Regiment. After a year and a half's service, he deserted[4] to return to Australia.[5]

First World War[edit]

Infantry service[edit]

On 24 August 1914, having received a pardon for his prior desertion, Alberry joined the First Australian Imperial Force's 8th Battalion as an infantryman.[6] On 19 October, he left Australia by ship.[7]

On 5 April 1915, he took ship for the Dardanelles.[8] He landed in Anzac Cove and served in the Gallipoli Campaign.[9] He was promoted to lance corporal on 27 December 1915.[10]

After being evacuated from Gallipoli, he landed in Alexandria, Egypt, on 7 January 1916. Two quick promotions followed, to corporal on 26 February and sergeant on 15 March. On 26 March 1916, he shipped out to join the British Expeditionary Force[11] on the Western Front in France.[12]

By 25 July 1916, he was commanding a section of four Lewis guns[13] in the Battle of Pozières. When the 8th Battalion's Company C was held up in its attack by the Germans, Alberry led his gunners in a flanking movement that dislodged the defenders. Following that, he took a Lewis gun forward into a shell crater to provide covering fire while the Battalion dug in.[14]

The next night, Sergeant Alberry again flanked the Germans with a machine gun while his battalion set up a strongpoint. Alberry then took over the stonghold and held it under fire for two days. He was being relieved from this post[15] on 27 July 1916 when a bullet hit his right kneecap. His gallantry in action earned him the Distinguished Conduct Medal, gazetted on 20 October 1916.[16]

Alberry was eventually medically evacuated to England on 1 August 1916. His leg was amputated above the knee. He remained in hospital until 26 March 1917, when he was discharged.[17]

Aviation service[edit]

When healed, Alberry still wished to serve, so he resorted to the unusual step of a personal audience with King George V to request a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps. The king assented[18] and Alberry began fighter pilot's training at Reading on 3 August 1917. He moved on to No. 29 (Training) Squadron RFC as a cadet on 13 September. Having successfully completed training despite his lack of a leg, he was appointed as a Flying Officer on 6 November 1917, with a commission as a second lieutenant in the AIF.[19]

He returned to France on 4 April 1918. On 16 June 1918, he was posted to No. 2 Squadron AFC as a pilot for Royal Aircraft Factory SE.5a number D6995.[20] In September and October 1918, he won seven victories over German first-line fighters–two Fokker Dr.Is and five Fokker D.VIIs.[21]

Post First World War[edit]

Alberry returned to Australia, leaving England on 20 November 1918. Once home, he was discharged on 6 March 1918.[22] He subsequently involved himself in the lumber business. He returned to military service for recruiting duty during the Second World War.[23]

Alberry died in 1969.[24]



  1. ^ Australian Air Aces, p. 20.
  2. ^ Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  3. ^ Australian Air Aces, p. 20.
  4. ^ Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  5. ^ Australian Air Aces, p. 20.
  6. ^ Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  7. ^ Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  8. ^ Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  9. ^ Above the Trenches, p. 49.
  10. ^ Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  11. ^ Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  12. ^ Above the Trenches, p. 49.
  13. ^ Supplement to the London Gazette, 20 October 1916, pp. 10196, 10209. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  14. ^ Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  15. ^ Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  16. ^ Supplement to the London Gazette, 20 October 1916, pp. 10196, 10209. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  17. ^ Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  18. ^ Above the Trenches, p. 49.
  19. ^ Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  20. ^ Australian Air Aces, p. 20.
  21. ^ Above the Trenches, p. 49.
  22. ^ Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  23. ^ Above the Trenches, p. 49.
  24. ^ Above the Trenches, p. 49.