Photographed at the Dease Studio, 117 Barrack Street Perth WA
Image courtesy of the State Library of Western Australia: 108052PD

Rank: Private; later Lieutenant

Regimental Number: 4053

Place of Birth: Scottsdale, Tasmania 

Address: Nyabing Katanning, Western Australia

Next of Kin: Father, Mr Alfred Athelstone Gaby, Stowport, Tasmania

Enlistment Date: 6 January 1916

Unit Name: 28th Battalion

Date of Death: 11 August 1918

Cause of Death: Killed in Action

Place of Death: France, Picardie, Somme, Framerville

Year of Photo: 1916

Research Links:


Gaby was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross Medal for "most conspicuous bravery and dash in attack when on reaching a wire in front of an enemy trench. Strong opposition was encountered. The advance was at once checked the enemy being in force about 40 yards beyond the wire and commanding the gap with machine guns and rifles. Lieutenant Gaby found another gap in the wire and single handed approached the strong point while machine guns and rifles were still being fired from it. Running along the parapet, still alone and at point blank range he emptied his revolver into the garrison, drove the crews from their guns and compelled the surrender of 50 of the enemy with four machine guns. He then quickly reorganised his men and led them on to his final objective which he captured and consolidated. Three days later during an attack, this officer again led his company with great dash to the objective. The enemy brought heavy rifle and machine gun fire to bear upon the line but in the face of this heavy fire Lieutenant Gaby walked along his line of posts encouraging his men to quickly consolidate. While engaged on this duty he was killed by an enemy sniper.

Note: This photo was not taken at Dease Studio but after his promotion to Lieutenant overseas.

"Alfred Edward Gaby (1892-1918) soldier and labourer was born on 25 January 1892 at Springfield, near Ringarooma, Tasmania. Seventh son of Alfred Gaby, farmer and his wife Adelaide née Whiteway. Little is known of his early years other than that he was educated at Scottsdale and worked on the family farm after leaving school. He then spent some time in southern Tasmania. While working on his father's farm he had joined the militia and served for three years with the 12th Infantry Battalion (Launceston Regiment). Two elder brothers had seen active service in the South African War.
Before the outbreak of World War I Gaby followed one of his brothers to Western Australia where he worked as a labourer at Katanning. On 6 January 1916, after having been twice rejected for active service he enlisted the Australian Imperial Force as a private and after training at Blackboy Hill camp was posted to the 10th reinforcements of the 28th Battalion. He sailed on the troopship Ulysses in April and joined his battalion in France on 6 August. His previous military experience brought him rapid promotion: from lance corporal on 13 August through all the ranks to sergeant on 30 December. On 7 April 1917 he was commissioned second lieutenant, he was promoted lieutenant on 26 September and was wounded in action (gassed) on 29 October.
Gaby was acting as commander of 'D' Company when as part of the 2nd Division, his battalion was engaged in the great allied offensive of 8 August 1918. The 28th Battalion attacked German positions east of Villers-Bretonneux and in the course of this action Gaby showed conspicuous bravery and dash in leading and reorganising his company when it was held up by barbed wire entanglements. He found a gap in the wire and single-handed approached an enemy strong point in the face of machine-gun and rifle fire. 'Running along the parapet still alone, and at point-blank range he emptied his revolver into the garrison'. Driving the crews from their guns and capturing fifty men and four machine-guns. He then reorganised his men and captured his objective. On 11 August 1918 in another attack near Lihons, during which he again showed bravery and coolness in engaging an enemy machine-gun position he was killed by sniper fire.
In recording his death the war diary of the 28th Battalion paid special tribute to this gallant officer. He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously and was buried in Heath cemetery, Harbonnières. Lieutenant Gaby was unmarried"

(Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume #8, 1981)