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He survived both world wars with a Victoria Cross

In honour of Anzac Day, we remember Albert Chalmers Borella, Victoria Cross recipient.


Born in Victoria in 1881, he was working in the Northern Territory. The government wasn't calling for volunteers to fight in the Great War when it broke out but that didn't deter Albert.

He decided to travel over to Townsville to enlist.


Albert Chalmers Borella. Courtesy Findagrave


This was not just a case of jumping on a train, as Albert started out on foot. He set out for Darwin in January 1915, walking 14okm, crossing flooded rivers and borrowing a horse to ride to Katherine. From there he caught a mail coach to a railhead at Pine Creek.


After travelling 1000km through the outback, he arrived in Darwin then sailed to Townsville on March 8, 1915. He was among the first 15 Territorians to enlist for active service.


From there Albert served at Gallipoli with the 26th Battalion and was later moved to the Western Front. He was wounded in Pozieres in July 1916. For his actions he was noticed and rose through the ranks, becoming a second lieutenant in April 1917.


While leading a platoon attack in Villiers-Bretonneux, they reached the enemy trench line and noticed a machine-gun firing through the Australian barrage. Albert ran ahead of his troops, throwing a bomb and then following up, he shot the two German machine-gunners with his revolver, capturing the machine-gun single-handedly. He then carried through by leading the remainder of his platoon of 10 men and two Lewis guns against the strongly held trench, taking 30 prisoners and holding the line against fierce counter attacks. For this he was awarded a Victoria Cross in September 1918.


If all the action of the Great War wasn't enough, Albert signed up for World War Two on October 15, 1939, serving with 12 Garrison Battalion and later with 51 Garrison Company. By the time he was discharged in 1945, he had reached the rank of Captain.


The grave of Albert Chalmers Borella in North Albury. Courtesy Stephen More, Findagrave.


Coming home from the war Albert took on the role of inspector with the Commonwealth Department of Supply and Shipping, then retired in 1956. He died on February 7, 1968 at Albury, NSW, aged 86. He is buried at the Presbyterian cemetery, North Albury.




References

  • 'Brave Soldier', Army, Thursday, 26 February, 2015, Page 6

  • Griffith, John 'J-Cat', 'Albert Chalmers Borella', Findagrave, accessed 23rd April, 2023, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/13681638/albert-chalmers-borella

  • 'For Valour - Lt Albert Borella VC', Australian Army, Thursday, 24 April, 1980, Page 2

  • 'Tales of the VC', The Maitland Daily Mercury, Saturday 28 December 1918, Page 7



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