Elizabeth Stuart Fryer
Elizabeth Stuart Fryer [Liz] was born in 1884 and was the eldest of the Fryer children. She worked as a teacher in Springsure and had a major role in Jack's education and that of her other brothers as well.
During the war, Liz was one of the major recipients of letters from her brothers. While they did not typically give her descriptions of the fighting, they did sometimes confide in her of small intimacies about girls in the Springsure area in whom they had a romantic interest.
She delayed her marriage to Jim Gilmour until after the war in 1919, as once married, women were no longer eligible to teach. She undertook home duties on Meteor Downs station. Until the final years of her life, she retained an active interest in literature and history, especially that of the Springsure district. Liz died in Townsville in 1984.
William Thomas Fryer
William Thomas Fryer was born in 1887. He was the second born in the family and the eldest son. At the time of his enlistment, in June 1915, he gave his occupation as labourer.
Will did virtually all of his military training and front line service with Jack in the same battalion, the 49th. From mid-June 1916 he specialised as a “bomber” (grenade thrower). In early September 1916, at the Battle of Moquet Farm, near Pozières, Will was badly wounded in a charge. He saw no further action, recuperating in hospital in France and in England. He returned to Australia in May 1917.
After returning from the war, his father gave him his selection, Yandina, between Springsure and Rolleston. Will continued to work in the area though was doubtless limited by a pronounced limp as a result of his wound. He died the day after his 59th birthday.
Charles George Fryer
Charles George Fryer, born in 1889, was the third born in the family. At the time of his enlistment, in October 1915, he also gave his occupation as labourer.
After his arrival in France in June 1916, he regularly sent cards and letters. He particularly favoured the embroidered silk cards. In a letter to a friend at home, "Billy", he described in rather graphic detail the experience of being in battle – descriptions he tended to eschew when writing to family members.
Charles was wounded on a number of occasions and suffered badly from trench foot. On 5 April, while his battalion (the 49th) was in action at Noreuil, he was killed. His military records give no detail of how his death occurred.
Henry Hardy Fryer
Henry Hardy Fryer, born in 1892, was the fourth born in the family. He was the last of the eligible Fryer boys to enlist – in March 1916. Like Charles and Will, he gave his occupation as labourer.
After training at Fraser’s Paddock (now Enoggera), Henry shipped for England in September 1916 and landed there in late December. Tall and strong, Henry was later described by one of his cousins as “the life and soul of the place with his merry blue eyes and smiling face”. He went to France in late January where he fought with the 47th Battalion.
At the Battle of Messines, Henry was wounded in the left elbow and was repatriated to England. Henry returned home in September 1917.
After the war, Henry became a well-respected wool classer and was very active in the community, through involvement in the RSL, Jockey Club and on the Hospital Board. Henry died in 1990. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren still live in Springsure.
Parents and younger siblings
The Fryers were an Anglo-Irish, Australian family who settled in Springsure, Central Queensland in the 1880s. Charles George Fryer was born in 1854 in County Wexford, Ireland. Rosina Fryer (née Richards) was born in Rockhampton 1865. Together the couple raised seven children, including Richard Alexander James b.1899 and Walter Ponsonby b.1906.
The Fryers were not a financially wealthy family, however, it is obvious in their letters that they shared a different kind of wealth – a wealth of affection. Their letters and cards show a close-knit and loving family with a deep attachment to their home and community in Springsure.
In the winter of 1914 they could never have predicted that the forces of world politics would wreak havoc the way they did. Of the four sons who went to war in 1914, one was killed and three were wounded. Jack died less than four years after his return to Australia. While the fighting stopped officially in November 1918, the collateral damage and deep trauma caused by the war was ongoing.