Roy Trout was a twenty-one year old agricultural chemist working for the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock when he enlisted in August 1916 to fight in the Great War. A member of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, Roy Trout was a grandson of Richard Trout MLA, the member for Enoggera.
Selected to undertake training at the Central Flying School in Victoria, Roy Trout graduated as a Lieutenant. By January 1917 he was with 13 Reserve Squadron in England where he undertook training in night flying. With approximately forty hours of training and coastal night flying duty logged, Roy Trout joined 69 Squadron and was temporarily assigned to Acceptance Park aerodrome at Radford, near Coventry, in central England. Here his job was to ferry aircraft delivered from local manufacturers to squadrons in other parts of the country.
On 27 July 1917 Roy Trout took off from the aerodrome in RE8A no. 3772. Over 4,000 of these two-seater biplanes, known colloquially as ‘Harry Tates’, were built from June 1916. On this day Trout was headed for Lympne, near the English Channel. Witnesses saw him making a flat left hand turn over the aerodrome at Radford before the wing dropped and the aircraft fell to Earth. The 22 year old pilot was killed instantly. The Court of Inquiry which followed concluded that Roy Trout had died through inexperience in flying that particular aircraft type, or possibly through breakage of an elevator control. Trout had made one previous delivery flight in an RE8A. A broken king post indicated the pilot had been trying with considerable strength to regain control before he died.
Roy Trout was accorded a funeral with full military honours when buried in nearby Coventry (London Road) Cemetery. A band and firing party were in attendance and the ‘Last Post’ was sounded at the grave side. Deaths such as his were not uncommon. In the First World War more young aviators died in Britain from training accidents or equipment failures than from enemy action in the war zone.
Roy Trout’s name is included on the Department of Agriculture and Stock Honour Board in National Trust House. The Roll of Honour is unable to be accessed during the construction work being undertaken for the Queen’s Wharf Integrated Resort Development.
Service Record of Roy Trout at the National Archives of Australia.