Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The 2/4th Battalion)

Research and Resources around the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry during WWI

Second Lieutenant Arthur Charles Fry

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire Light Infantry, By Captain G. K. Rose, M.C.

“At 10 o’clock I heard that Fry, the commander of No. I6 Platoon, had been hit by shrapnel on his way from Company H.Q. to the Sucrerie. To get him to the nearest shelter (C Company H.Q.) was difficult through the mud, and uncomfortable enough with 5.9s coming down close to the trench, but the men, as always, played up splendidly to assist a comrade. Soon afterwards, the doctor, in answer to a telephonic summons, appeared at my H.Q. On our way to reach Fry we were both knocked down in the trench by a 4″‘, which also wounded Corporal Rockall in the shoulder-blade. I regret that Fry, though safely moved from the trenches the same night, had received a mortal wound. In him died a fine example of the platoon officer. He met his wound in the course of a trivial duty which, had I guessed that he would do it under heavy shelling, I should have forbidden him to undertake. His type of
bravery, though it wears no decorations, is distinguished, more than all other, by the unwritten admiration of the Infantry.”

From: First World War in Headington & Marston Roll of Honour of St Andrew’s Church, Old Headington

Arthur Charles Fry was born at Tonbridge in 1892. He was the son of John Fry (born in Maidstone in the third quarter of 1867) and Annie Florence Dawes (born in Canterbury in c.1865). His parents were married in the Tonbridge Registration District in the first quarter of 1892 and had the following three sons:

* Arthur Charles Fry (born in Tonbridge on 6 November 1892)
* Bertram H. Jesse Fry (born in Tonbridge in the third quarter of 1894)
* John Eric Donald Fry (born in Horsemonden in the second quarter of 1900).

In 1891 Arthur’s father was a general smith and living with his wife at 52 Broad Street Canterbury. The family evidently soon moved to Tonbridge, and then on to Horsemonden by 1899. At the time of the 1901 census, when family lived near Horsemonden station, Arthur’s father described himself as a mechanical engineer.

In 1911 the family were living in Gillingham (at 216 Windmill Road), but Arthur (18) was then at Derby School, and living in Derby as the ward of Wilfred Ryan Johnson (39), a Clerk in Holy Orders.

On 14 October 1911 Fry matriculated at the University of Oxford from Hertford College. The Undergraduate Register records that he passed Responsions (preliminary examinations for entry) in Trinity Term 1911. He went on to pass examinations in Holy Scripture (then compulsory) in Michaelmas Term 1912 and Greek and Latin in Hilary Term 1913. In Trinity Term 1914 he passed examinations in the following “groups” of the Final Pass School: A1 (two books, either both Greek, or one Greek and one Latin) and C1 (The Elements of Algebra and Geometrical Trigonometry).

Poppy About six weeks after the start of the First World War, Fry gave up his studies to join the army. He commenced service on 19 September 1914, serving in the ranks of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Shortly after joining up, in the last quarter of 1914, he married Lucy Elizabeth Empson (born in the Faringdon Registration District in the third quarter of 1876) in the Epsom Registration District. He was 22, and she was sixteen years his senior. They do not appear to have had any children.

Fry may have come back to England from the war in need of recuperation, because Kelly’s Directory for 1916/17 (presumably published at the end of 1915) lists “A. F. Fry” as the gardener of Miss Davenport of Davenport House. He and his wife were living in the cottage that is now in the grounds of Headington School beside Headley Way, but was then in a quieter setting next to the Boundary Brook. It was presumably Fry, with his Kentish roots, who named it Bromley Cottage; but it was later known as The Boundary Cottage. It seems likely that he was a friend of Miss Davenport’s brother, Major Hugh Davenport, who was a Major in his battalion and also an Oxford man.

Under the War Decree (1) of 8 February 1916 Fry was exempted from further examinations. This decree appears in the University Gazette No.1483 Vol. XLVI. It states that “any member of the University who shall have been absent on Military Service and who at the termination of the period of his Military Service, or after he has been absent on such Service for not less than four Terms, shall either have kept or, … be deemed to have kept, twelve Terms by residence, and who shall be statutably qualified to the Examination in any Final Honour School, shall be permitted to supplicate for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts without passing any further Examinations, provided that he shall have paid the fee of three pounds in addition to the fees payable under the provisions of the Statutes.” Hence the degree of BA was conferred on Arthur Fry at a ceremony in Oxford on 8 July 1916.

Poppy Arthur Fry went back to fight as a Second Lieutenant in “D” Company of the 2nd/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He died in France at the age of 24 of wounds received in action at Ablaincourt on 28 February 1917, and is buried at Bray Military Cemetery at Bray-sur-Somme (I.C.16). He is listed on the roll of honour of St Andrew’s Church in Old Headington.
After the War

Arthur’s widow, Mrs Lucy Elizabeth Fry, continued to live at The Boundary Cottage after her husband’s death. The whole Davenport estate running along the north side of the Headington Road was sold to Headington School in 1920, but the school evidently allowed Mrs Fry to continue to rent the house, as she was still listed there in the 1947 Kelly’s Directory.

Initials: A C
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: “D” Coy. 2nd/4th Bn.
Age: 24
Date of Death: 28/02/1917
Additional information: Son of John and Anna Fry; husband of Lucy Elizabeth Fry, of The Boundary Cottage, Headington Hill, Oxford. Graduate of Hertford College, Oxford.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: II. C. 16.

General Directions: Bray-sur-Somme is a village about 9 kilometres south-east of Albert. Bray Military Cemetery is north of the village, a little west of the road to Maricourt.

The cemetery was begun in April 1916 by fighting units and field ambulances. In September 1916, the front line having been pushed further east, it was used by the XIV Corps Main Dressing Station and in 1917, the 5th, 38th and 48th Casualty Clearing Stations came forward and used it.


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2 thoughts on “Second Lieutenant Arthur Charles Fry

  1. I am flattered that you have quoted at length from my page on Fry at http://www.headington.org.uk/history/war/standrew/fry_arthur.html but it was pretty rough at that time and I am doing some work on it now.

    I am adding information to Fry’s page and there will be more after I have sent some more emails out. The main thing to note now is that I made a mistake with Fry’s mother and his parents’ marriage. His mother was Mary Annie Errey (born in Canterbury in 1865/6, registered Blean district first quarter of 1866) and she married John Fry in the Canterbury Registration District in the second quarter of 1890.

    I am very interested in the quotation you have with the details of Fry’s death, but am unclear who wrote this and would be glad to know

    • alandbower on said:

      Hi Stephanie

      The best resource I’ve found on this battalion is The Story of The 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry by Captain G. K. Rose, M.C. It’s freely available at: http://www.archive.org/details/24thoxfordshire00roseuoft

      The quote is from page 61.

      Are you responsible for the history section of http://www.headington.org.uk/? It’s a great site.

      I have recently started researching other members of the 2/4th that are listed on your site, to get a better understanding of what happened to them.

      All the best,


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