Gertie Traill Page last modified:

Audrey Gertrude Muriel Traill
Childhood & Youth
 Ages: 1–25 — Years: 1916–1941

Event Timeline

Year Age Event
1916-12-17 0 Audrey Gertrude Muriel Traill, Gertie, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the second child (first to survive infancy) of Joe Traill and Audrey Lawson, of estancia “Chirú”, east of San Jorge, Santa Fé.
1927-1933 10-17 Gertie, and her brother Tony, were put in school in England, where she attended Sherborne School.  When not in school they lived with their uncle Dr. Ralph (& Gladys) Traill in Ottery St. Mary, Devon.
1934-1940 18-23 Gertie took a secretarial course in Buenos Aires then returned to "Chirú" where she assisted her father in its management & with book-keeping.  She also played polo & trained polo ponies.
1940-1944 23- Gertie returned to England where she joined the WAAF, becoming a Section Officer in Intelligence Operations at RAF Horsham St Faith, 4km north of Norwich (Norfolk, East Anglia); where she was listed/known as Mrs. Hall after marriage.
1941-10 24 Gertie married George Barton Hall, lieutenant in the RNVR.  They met on the ship taking them to England to join up.  George’s father was a civil engineer with the Argentine railroad Ferrocarril del Sud, based in Bahia Blanca, BA prov. (nationalised 1946-1948, it became part of Ferrocarril General Roca (FCGR).).
1942-11-15 25 George was killed when his ship, the HMS “Avenger”, a few hours after leaving Gibraltar, was torpedoed off the SW coast of Portugal.  The torpedo struck an oil-bunker, next to an ammunition magazine, causing the ship to blow up.  Of a crew of 516, only 12 were rescued.
1942-12-03 25 Gertie’s first child is born in Ottery St. Mary, Devon, England.
1944 - Gertie & son returned to live at “Chirú”, Santa Fé, Arg.
1946-05-25 29 / 29 Gertie married Malcolm Benitz (a childhood friend from nearby estancia “La Califorina”) in Rosario, Santa Fé.  Honeymoon trip by car to La Quiaca, Jujuy.  They had two sons.  (No names, we're still living, 2020.)
1946-2001 29-84 To continue, please click here to see Malcolm & Gertie’s combined pages

Conversations with Gertie about her school-days in England:

The following are notes of conversations with Gertie over Christmas (1991) & New Year, in San Diego, California.

School Years in the UK: (Summary)
Gertie was sent to school in England for seven years, from age 10 to 17.  She went with her brother, Tony.  During that time she never went back to Argentina, however her parents visited twice.

Gertie and Tony lived with their aunt, Agnes (neé Traill) and Frank Sidebotham, in Ottery Saint Mary on the south coast of England down towards Exeter.  Gertie and Tony played with their cousins of about the same age.  Gertie was the eldest, then came Tony and Jimmy, Dick was two or three years younger, and last was Anne, two or three years younger yet.  Anne was considered a pest: “Of course, the four of us kept together.  Anne was kept out completely.”  In 1991, Jimmy was a medical doctor and Dick lived in western Canada.

Per Gertie’s youngest sister, when Gertie returned to Argentina their father (Joe Traill) picked her up at the train station.  He found his seventeen-year-old daughter was a total stranger to him; he did not know what to talk to her about.

Sherborne: (Summary)
Gertie attended the girl’s school in Sherborne.  (On a visit to England in 1980, we saw the school from the train.  It’s up the hill, above and beyond the boys’ school playing fields.)

One sunny day her Latin teacher took the class out-doors, all of three students.  A bird flew over and shit on the teacher to the students vast amusement, ending the class for that day.

The school was organized into eight houses.  In Gertie’s dorm the girls had individual cubicles, ten on each side of the hall.  At night each girl put out a jug and in the morning the maids would come by and fill the jugs with hot water.  Gertie, who didn’t like the matron, decided to have a little fun at the matron’s expense.  She tied the opposing pairs of jugs together with black cotton thread and then “caused a ruckus”.  The matron came charging down the hall and the jugs came tumbling after.  The matron could not have been too bright for she continued down the hall walking backwards, watching dumbly as the jugs fell over.  Gertie gave herself away by laughing uproariously (Telling the story, she laughed so hard she got tears in her eyes).  She was hauled up in front of the headmistress; the headmistress could not keep a straight face.

Broken ankle: (Summary)
Gertie bust her an ankle rock climbing in Wales - she fell landing badly.  It hurt but no one thought she had broken it.  Later, while at bat playing cricket she was made fun of for not taking a ball on the ankle.  She was vindicated when after a few days a piece of stone came out.  Only then was she examined and it was determined she had a broken ankle.  Gertie claimed the ankle prevented her from skiing, being too weak.  Skiing and scuba-diving are the two things she regreted never having done.

1931: GSC: (Summary)
Gertie came top of ALL England with someone else (male) in the GeneraL School Certificate (GSC) examinations for History; however, her Math (she could never understand Algebra) was really rotten and for which she got 33.67% – .67% above the minimum required to pass.  Had she not got the .67%, she would not have received her GSC.  She believes she was awarded the extra % out of compassion and so claims she passed her GSC with only .67% to spare.

University: (Summary)
Gertie was offered a bursary - a form of scholarship - to attend Cambridge, but had to turn it down as her parents didn’t have enough money to keep both her and Tony (two years younger) at school.  By not going on herself there was enough for Tony to go on to University.  Gertie did not mind too much as she was anxious to get back to Argentina where she could play polo.


Missing image.

“Highland Laddie”
In-Coming Passengers
London - 17 Dec 1927

(Source: National Archives, Kew)


© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)