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Albert Henry (Bert) Baile (1882–1961)

by Allan Mcl. Sharp

This article was published:

Albert Henry Baile (1882-1961), by unknown photographer

Albert Henry Baile (1882-1961), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, 055822

Albert Henry (Bert) Baile (1882-1961), bandmaster, was born on 10 August 1882 at Battersea, London, son of Albert Arthur Baile, a house-decorator, and his wife Lucy Jane, née Poole. The family migrated to Queensland in 1887, then followed the gold rush to Western Australia. Arthur moved to Perth in the late 1890s and became a greengrocer. Bert learned to play the clarinet, flute and piccolo under George Campbell, and by 1900 had begun to study brass instruments; as a cornetist, he entered band contests at Ballarat, Victoria. On 23 November 1903 at the Wesley manse, Wright Street, Perth, he married Jessie Elizabeth Preedy. He joined his father's business and about 1910 took over the Beaufort Street shop.

Secretary of the Perth City Band by 1908, Baile won several State championships while bandmaster (1913-20). He also conducted the Perth Operatic and Choral societies (1916-18), played nightly before picture shows with Baile's Premier Band and toured India in 1919 with the flautist Lance Kennedy. Appointed conductor of the Steel Works Band in 1920, he moved to Newcastle, New South Wales, and worked as a clerk; next year he won the B and A grade New South Wales championships. He was a founder (1923) and musical director of the Newcastle Operatic Society.

On a world tour in 1924-25 the Newcastle band won the British Empire and the English championships, and gained third place in the World championship; it also played for three months at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. In 1926 Baile was appointed conductor of the Australian Commonwealth Band which toured Britain, North America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. During the following five years he made further world tours with the band. Settling in Sydney, he and his wife maintained separate addresses.

In 1931 he was made conductor of the Bondi Beach Concert Band which was taken over by the St John Ambulance Brigade, New South Wales District, in 1938; a district officer in the brigade, Baile became the musical director. Giving his birth date as 1893, he enlisted in the Australian Military Forces on 28 November 1941 and was posted to the 7th Military District (Perth) Headquarters Band as a warrant officer. From November 1942 he served mainly with armoured brigades at home. He conducted the Massed Regimental Bands (as well as Peter Dawson) in the Sydney Town Hall to launch the Fourth Victory Loan in October 1945. Commissioned lieutenant on 10 November, he was attached to headquarters, Second Army, in connexion with a military survey of bandmasters and bandsmen. His appointment terminated on 5 April 1946.

Baile was undefeated with the St John Ambulance Brigade Band in competitions from 1948 to 1959 and won the Australian A grade championship six times. In addition, the band played during race-meetings at Randwick and at charitable functions. From 1955 he had also conducted the Burwood Band and lifted it from C to A grade in three years. Throughout his career he made thirty-six appearances as conductor in band contests, was awarded twenty-two first placings and was the dominant Australian brass bandsman.

A registered adjudicator for the Australian Band Council and for the Band Association of New South Wales, Baile augmented his income by coaching bands and soloists. He was small, sturdy and clean shaven, neat in appearance, methodical and polite. Survived by his wife, son and daughter, he died on 13 March 1961 at his Bondi Junction home and was cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • A. McL. Sharp (compiler), The Band of St. John Ambulance Brigade, District of N.S.W. (Syd, 1990)
  • Australasian Bandsman, 1, no 1, Jan 1955, p 2, 2, no 3, Mar 1956, p 11, 7, no 4, Apr-May 1961, p 13
  • West Australian, 28 Mar 1908, 14 May 1910, 28 Dec 1912, 8 Nov 1913, 21 Feb 1920
  • Newcastle Morning Herald, 29 Sept 1923, 10, 11 Mar, 30 Sept 1924, 25, 27, 28 Apr 1925
  • Times (London), 29 Sept 1924, 22 May 1926
  • Argus (Melbourne), 2 July 1925
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Oct 1927, 13 Mar 1931.

Citation details

Allan Mcl. Sharp, 'Baile, Albert Henry (Bert) (1882–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 22 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Albert Henry Baile (1882-1961), by unknown photographer

Albert Henry Baile (1882-1961), by unknown photographer

Australian War Memorial, 055822

Life Summary [details]


10 August, 1882
London, Middlesex, England


13 March, 1961 (aged 78)
Bondi, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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