Home Learning Activity The Fry Family Story

The Fry Family Story

Background information for students

Fry family further pictorial material, 1870-1945

Alan Fraser Fry was born in Sydney in 1895. He enlisted in December 1914 and left Australia in February 1915 with the 13th Battalion on board the transport "Seang Bee". He remained in Egypt in hospital with influenza and malaria while the Battalion went on to Gallipoli. He was invalided back to Australia and returned to Egypt with the 10th reinforcements, 13th Battalion in late 1915. Alan Fry reached France in June 1916; he was wounded on the 13 August and died the following day at the South Midland Clearing Station, Warloy.

Dene Barrett Fry was born in Sydney in 1893. A keen amateur naturalist since boyhood, he joined the Australian Museum as a cadet in 1908 and studied zoology at Sydney Technical College; he was a member of the Linnean Society of NSW and the Australasian Ornithologists' Union. He left the Museum in 1914 to study science at Sydney University and was appointed Junior Demonstrator in Zoology in 1915, but left the University in May to enlist with the Australian Imperial Forces. After one voyage to England and Egypt with the Army Medical Corps he transferred to the Infantry in 1916. He trained at Liverpool and Duntroon and left Sydney in August 1916 with the reinforcements to the 3rd Battalion on board the transport "Wiltshire". Dene Fry was killed in action at Hermies, France, 9 April 1917.

Their much younger brother James Rollo Fry (known by his family as Rollo and, later, Bill) would join the RAAF in World War II and on the 13 June 1944, returning from a bombing raid in Germany, Bill Fry and all the crew were killed when their aircraft was shot down over Holland.

Student Activities

Research task

Use the sources provided, your own knowledge and other sources to answer the following questions.

  • What do we know about Alan and Dene Fry from this collection of sources?
  • What was the attitude of the Fry brothers to joining the armed forces?
  • Did their attitude change during the course of the war?
  • How do you think the Fry brothers will be remembered by their family and friends?








Syllabus Information

The Making of the Modern World

Depth Study 3 Australians at War:World Wars I and II (1914-1918, 1939-1945)

The making of the modern world from 1750 to 1918. It was a period of industrialisation and rapid change in the ways people lived, worked and thought. It was an era of nationalism and imperialism, and the colonisation of Australia was part of the expansion of European power. The period culminated in World War I (1914 - 1918) and World War II (1939 - 1945)


An overview of the causes of the wars, why men enlisted and where Australians fought (ACDSEH021, ACDSEH095, ACDSEH024)


  • explain why Australians enlisted to fight in both wars 

Significant events and the experiences of Australians at war (ACDSEH108) using sources, students investigate the following features of each war: 

  • a specific campaign, eg the Western Front 1916 and the New Guinea campaign 1942
  • a specific event/incident, eg the Battle of Hamel 1918 and the Fall of Singapore 1942

Significance of the wars to Australia (ACDSEH110)


  • explain the impact of the wars on returned soldiers/civilians 


HT5-5 identifies and evaluates the usefulness of sources in the historical inquiry process

HT5-7 explains different contexts, perspectives and interpretations of the modern world and Australia

HT5-9 applies a range of relevant historical terms and concepts when communicating an understanding of the past

HT5-10 selects and uses appropriate oral, written, visual and digital forms to communicate effectively about the past for different audiences


Comprehension: chronology, terms and concepts
  • Read and understand historical texts
  • Sequence historical events to demonstrate the relationship between different periods, people and places
  • Use historical terms and concepts in appropriate contexts

Analysis and use of sources

  • Identify different types of sources
  • Identify the origin, content, context and purpose of primary and secondary sources (ACHHS169, ACHHS187)
  • Process and synthesise information from a range of sources as evidence in an historical argument
  • Evaluate the reliability and usefulness of primary and secondary sources for a specific historical inquiry

Perspectives and interpretations

  • Identify and analyse the reasons for different perspectives in a particular historical context

Empathetic understanding

  • Interpret history through the actions, values, attitudes and motives of people in the context of the past


  • Ask and evaluate different kinds of questions about the past to inform an historical inquiry
  • Plan historical research to suit the purpose of an investigation
  • Identify, locate, select and organise information from a variety of sources, using ICT and other methods

Explanation and communication

  • Develop historical texts, particularly explanations and historical arguments that use evidence from a range of sources
  • Select and use a range of communication forms (oral, graphic, written and digital) to communicate effectively about the past for different audiences and for different purposes


Cause and effect
  • Intended and unintended causes and consequences of a particular historical event or development

Empathetic understanding

  • The actions, values, attitudes and motives of people in the context of the past


  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Ethical understanding

Background information for teachers

National Archives of Australia – World War I servicemen records.

Australian War Memorial – researching World War I service personnel.

Arthur John Moore Burrowes letters and postcards to his family, 26 January 1918-15 September 1919
'If anything else is added the post card will be destroyed'

Keeping the secrets of battles fought, won and lost, makes for very clinical correspondence from ‘over there’. Reading between the lines about the realities of life in the armed forces must have been very difficult for the recipients of such scant morsels of information. It isn’t exactly a wordy message but I am sure it would have been happily received back home with the first line kept intact. See postcard.

Ph: +61 2 9273 1414
Fax: +61 2 9273 1255

State Library of NSW
Macquarie Street,
Sydney NSW 2000,

Media Enquiries