John Denis (Jack or Chut) FRYER

FRYER, John Denis

Service Number: 3044
Enlisted: 10 June 1915, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 52nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Springsure, Queensland, 11 September 1895
Home Town: Springsure, Central Highlands, Queensland
Schooling: Springsure State School, Rockhampton Grammar School, Queensland University
Occupation: University Student
Died: Result of exposure to poison gas during the war, Springsure, Queensland, 7 February 1923, aged 27 years
Cemetery: Springsure Cemetery
Memorials: Rockhampton Grammar School WWI Honour Roll, Springsure Shire of Bauhinia Roll of Honour, Springsure State School Memorial Fountain, University of Queensland WW1 Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

10 Jun 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Brisbane, Queensland
5 Oct 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 3044, 9th Infantry Battalion
5 Oct 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 3044, 9th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Warilda, Brisbane
1 Jul 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 52nd Infantry Battalion

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Born in Springsure on the 11 September 1895, his parents worked at the local hospital. Jack was able to attend Rockhampton Grammar School by winning a District Scholarship. Under the headmastership of Mr Kellow he won a University Scholarship which took him to the University of Queensland in 1915. He lasted less than a term before enlisting for service in World War I in June 1915 as a Lieutenant where he served in France where he was gassed in early 1917. After hospitalisation in England, Jack returned to France for the final push to Amiens in August 1918. There he was wounded by a stick bomb before returning in Australia in May 1919. His service history details that he suffered from mumps and severe leg injuries during his time in the in the war. Twenty-five of his University colleagues were killed in action during the war. Suffering from gassing over an extended period during the War, he recuperated in the bush, working at his sister's new home until he started University again in the first term of 1920. Despite being severely disabled with his skin regularly erupting with boils and rashes he continued to strap on the boots being awarded a Half Blue for Rugby in 1921. He was a fine halfback standing at just over 5 foot 11 inches and weighing 155 pounds Bill Ahern, a compatriot, described him as the most popular person on the Campus that at that stage was not very large with most people knowing everyone else on campus. Described as a real character, he resided at St John's College while studying for his Bachelor of Arts. His popularity stemmed from his dramatic storytelling commanding an audience at any opportunity and formed a vital group of University personalities known as the vestibularizers for their habit of congregating noisily in the entrance hall of the old government house where the arts faculty held court. In 1922 he undertook study towards Classics Honours. But Jack's war injuries were to take their toll. Too sick to sit for his final honours examinations, he returned home to Rockhampton and died on 7 February 1923 of peritonitis arising from being gassed in France. The University Senate awarded Jack the BA degree on 15 December 1922. In an emotional Galmahara obituary, his old friend and future Rhodes Scholar Percy ‘Inky’ Stephensen wrote that he was saddened by ‘the spectacle of Civilised Humanity sacrificing with cruel rites its splendid Youth on the altars of the ruthless God of War’. Dr. F.W.Robinson, Lecturer in English sponsored a movement to perpetuate Fryer's memory with collections of Australian books bought with funds raised in his honour. The J D Fryer Library (part of the main Library at the University) was named in memory of him. The Library contains only Australian Literary material and is now regarded as having one of the finest collections of Australian literature.

"John Denis (Jack) Fryer was born in 1895 at Springsure, Queensland, son of Charles George Fryer and his wife Rosina, née Richards. Charles and Rosina had seven children: Elizabeth Stuart (later Gilmour), William Thomas, Charles George, Henry Hardy, John Denis, Richard Alexander James and Walter Ponsonby. Jack won a scholarship to the University of Queensland and commenced study in 1915. By the end of first term, Jack decided to volunteer for military service in the first Australian Imperial Force. He was commissioned in 1916 and went to France where he was gassed in early 1917. After hospitalisation in England, Jack returned to France for the final push to Amiens, in August 1918. There he was again wounded, by a stick bomb.

After the war he re-enrolled at the University of Queensland for the first term of 1920 to complete his English honours examinations. His health failed in 1922 and he died in February 1923. In 1926, as a memorial to their former member and vice-president, members of the University Dramatic Society donated £10 to establish a collection of works in Australian literature. The Fryer collection was maintained in the English Department until the 1950s when it became part of the University of Queensland Library." John Denis Fryer Collection, UQFL23, Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library (


"FRYER.- At Springsure, 7th February, 1923, Lieut. J. D. Fryer (Jack), Lieut., A.I.F., aged 27   years.

"I have fought the good fight."  

(Deeply regretted by his sorrowing relatives and friends.)" - from the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin 10 Feb 1923 (