Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Fry, Alfred Narroway (1892–1979)

by H. D. Evans

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Alfred Narroway Fry (1892-1979), cornet player, cartage contractor and farmer, was born on 11 March 1892 at Mount Egerton, Victoria, fourth child and elder of twins of Bertram Waterman Fry, an English-born bricklayer, and his wife Annie, née Narroway, from South Australia. Raised in a strict Methodist home, Alf and his brothers were taught to play the cornet, baritone and euphonium; they joined a junior band and participated as individuals in competitions at State level. Bertram took them on long bush expeditions, allowing Alf and his twin Ernest to carry firearms from the age of 9. About 1904 the family moved to Coolgardie, Western Australia. Alf worked locally as a clerk for the stockbrokers Hummerston & Co., at Albany for Dalgety & Co., and with the Fremantle Harbour Trust.

Five ft 9 ins (175 cm) tall with grey eyes and brown hair, Fry enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 23 September 1914 and sailed for the Middle East with the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade. He served at Gallipoli, where he was wounded, and on the Western Front. In 1918 he completed flying training and on 18 December was commissioned in the Australian Flying Corps. Promoted lieutenant in March 1919, he arrived home in January 1920 and his appointment terminated on 20 April.

After captaining the 8th Battery football team during World War I, Fry played Australian Rules for South Fremantle. He also belonged to the Perth City Brass Band and came third in the State's solo cornet championship in 1922. That year he bought land at Quininup in partnership with James Kerath. When group settlement of English immigrants began at Northcliffe in 1924, Fry secured a contract to carry equipment and supplies there from the railway station at Pemberton, 20 miles (32 km) away, and to convey the settlers' dairy-farm produce on his return journeys. For nine years in his Vulcan truck he encountered appalling road conditions in winter and the danger of mechanical failure in any month. Tales abounded of the transport and illicit sale of liquor, of Alf's irrepressible humour and of his stentorian cornet blasts on his early morning departures. At St Paul's Anglican Pro-Cathedral, Bunbury, on 6 April 1926 he married a hospital matron Beryl Eileen Norton (d.1949); they were to have a daughter and two sons.

Having won the Western Australian soprano cornet championship and been second player in the winning sextet in 1926, he partnered E. J. McCormack next year to win the duet championship on euphonium and cornet. Fry played in countless recitals and performed The Last Post and Reveille at ex-servicemen's funerals far and wide. In 1933 the railway extension to Northcliffe made cartage contractors redundant: Alf joined a short-lived wheat-farming venture at Nungarin before returning to his Quininup farm. A fire on Anzac Day 1954 destroyed the home and most of his possessions. He rebuilt on the same site.

For twenty-two years Fry had belonged to Manjimup's football club and cricket association. He was president (for five years) of the local Returned Servicemen's League band, inaugural president of the Quininup Workers' Club and a district bushfire officer. In 1975 he moved to Moonya Lodge, a home for the frail aged. Survived by his sons, he died on 4 June 1979 at Manjimup and was buried in the local cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • J. P. Gabbedy, Group Settlement, vol 2 (Perth, 1988)
  • People (Sydney), 5 Mar 1958, p 38
  • Blackwood Times, 6 Jan 1922
  • private information.

Citation details

H. D. Evans, 'Fry, Alfred Narroway (1892–1979)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/fry-alfred-narroway-10255/text18137, published in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 23 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

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