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Francis Roger North (1894–1978)

by Marianne Eastgate

This article was published:

Francis Roger North (1894-1978), solicitor and soldier, was born on 13 April 1894 at Fairnie Lawn, near Ipswich, Queensland, second son of Robert Dundas North, a Queensland-born grazier of Northern Irish ancestry, and his wife Blanch Sarah, neé Thomson, from Cheshire, England. Frank attended Bowen House School, Brisbane, from 1904 and The Southport School in 1908-12. At the latter he played in the first football and cricket teams and was captain of tennis; he was to be president of the Old Southportonians' Association in 1922-23. On leaving school he was articled to William Hart, of Flower & Hart, solicitors, Brisbane, and in 1912 joined the 8th Oxley Regiment, Citizen Military Forces, being commissioned in June 1914.

On 3 June 1915 North enlisted as a private in the Australian Imperial Force. He was 5 ft 7 ins (170 cm) tall and weighed 144 lbs (65.3 kg). Commissioned on 24 August, next month he sailed for Egypt in the Ayrshire and on 21 November joined the 15th Battalion on Gallipoli. He transferred to the 47th Battalion in February 1916, rose to captain on 1 June and soon left for France. North fought at Gueudecourt and Pozières. On 11 April 1917 he was wounded in the leg during the battle of Bullecourt. After three months in hospital, he returned to Australia, having been twice mentioned in dispatches.

When North recovered, he refused the offer of demobilization or a post in Australia and asked to be sent back to his unit on the Western Front. He arrived on 28 March 1918 and was promoted temporary major twelve days later. From May he served with the 46th Battalion. For his inspirational command of two companies in an attack at Sailly-le-Sec, France, on 8 July he won the Military Cross. At Le Hamel on 8 August he displayed 'conspicuous gallantry and brilliant leadership of his company'. Recommended for the Distinguished Service Order, he was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross. Later in August, again severely wounded, he was admitted to hospital in London. His appointment terminated in Brisbane on 21 October 1919 when he held the honorary rank of major. At this time he also received the Efficiency Medal. As a result of his war injuries, he walked with a slight limp and the hearing in his right ear was affected.

North rejoined Flower & Hart and was admitted as a solicitor on 7 December 1921. He moved to Townsville in May 1923 and joined the firm of Roberts, Leu & Barnett (later Roberts, Leu & North). On 17 April 1929 at St James's Cathedral, Townsville, he married with Anglican rites Margaret May Craddock. North was closely involved in community, local government, church, returned soldiers', military and sports activities. He was chancellor of the Anglican dioceses of North Queensland (1927-71) and Carpentaria (1929-71). An alderman of Townsville City Council in 1936-39 he was foundation president (1948-67) of Townsville Citizens Association.

Having served as a legal officer in the C.M.F. in 1920-23, North was given command of the 31st Battalion, the Kennedy Regiment, Townsville, on 1 December 1924. Promoted lieutenant colonel in 1927, he led the regiment, except for four years, until 1940. Taking up full-time duty, from September he commanded the 11th Infantry Brigade with the rank of temporary brigadier. He served briefly in Brisbane as commander of the 7th Infantry Brigade in April-May 1942 and as investigating officer following the 'Battle for Brisbane' riot in November. That year he was appointed C.B. He had returned to Townsville in June to command No. 1 (North Queensland) Lines of Communication (Sub-Area). Ceasing full-time duty on 26 November 1945, he retired from the C.M.F. in 1951 as honorary brigadier but continued as honorary colonel of the Kennedy Regiment until 1959.

In 1953 North was appointed to the Royal Order of Vasa for his twenty-year service as honorary vice-consul for Sweden. Despite his bad leg, he played tennis for Townsville and was an 'A' grade cricketer and foundation president in 1927 of the North Queensland Golf Association. A successful racing greyhound, Brigadier North, was named after him. North retired from his law practice at the end of 1974 and moved to Brisbane. Predeceased by his wife in 1971, he died on 1 November 1978 in Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital and was cremated. Two daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • T. P. Chataway, History of the 15th Battalion (Brisb, 1948)
  • The Story of Scartwater (Brisb, 1956)
  • E. C. Rowland, The Tropics for Christ (Townsville, Qld, 1960)
  • T. M. Hawkins, The Queensland Great Public Schools (Brisb, 1965)
  • A. Smith, Roberts Leu and North (Townsville, Qld, 1986)
  • Reveille (Sydney), 1 Apr 1933, p 36
  • Crossed Boomerangs, 5, 1971, pp 191 & 192
  • B2455, item North F R, B883, item QX50080 (National Archives of Australia)
  • M. Eastgate, A Man Among Men: The Life of Francis Roger North (manuscript, privately held)
  • North family papers (privately held).

Citation details

Marianne Eastgate, 'North, Francis Roger (1894–1978)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 30 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne University Press), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


13 April, 1894
Fairney View, Queensland, Australia


1 November, 1978 (aged 84)
Greenslopes, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.