A last, hur­ried em­brace then a life lost to war

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - CAMERON ALLEN

WORLD War I sol­dier James Frier’s brother-in-law, Clar­rie Hey, was the last fam­ily mem­ber to see him alive.

Lance Cor­po­ral Hey was re­turn­ing from bat­tle at Der­nan­court, France, when he spot­ted Pri­vate Frier in pass­ing.

The pair were given per­mis­sion to break ranks and em­brace on the road.

Frier was later re­ported as miss­ing in ac­tion while fight­ing as a mem­ber of the 26th Bat­tal­ion.

His mother, Jemima Frier, penned a let­ter to him fol­low­ing his dis­ap­pear­ance.

“To my dear boy, I have got word that you are miss­ing … Dad and every­body all send their love to you. Oh Jim, come back to me. God bless you my dar­ling boy.”

An eye­wit­ness ac­count would later re­veal that Frier had been shot in the neck by ma­chine­gun fire and buried in a ceme­tery near the Al­bert-Amiens Rd.

The wit­ness de­scribed him as a quiet, well-built man, with ginger hair and small mous­tache.

“On May 28 we were on pa­trol about 9pm and got quite close to the Ger­man out­post,” Queens­lan­der Harry Warne told the in­quiry into Frier’s death, while a fur­ther wit­ness said he had been hit by ma­chine­gun bul­lets and died in­stantly.

The records were up­dated to read that Frier had been killed in ac­tion on May 28, 1918, while on pa­trol in no man’s land.

Great niece Lyn Kirk­wood and her brother have vis­ited the grave in the Der­nan­court Com­mu­nal Ceme­tery Ex­ten­sion in France.

“We read him the let­ter from his mother and left a copy of it there with a poppy,” Mrs Kirk­wood said.

“It was a very emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence. James’s mother adored him; she was a very lov­ing woman.”

Mrs Kirk­wood’s fa­ther, Ge­off Frier, 94, was born six years af­ter his “Un­cle Jim’s” death in France, but grew up hear­ing all about him.

Ho­bart-born Frier had joined up in Au­gust 1915, aged 22.

He had worked as a painter and was a soc­cer player for South Ho­bart.

Dur­ing his war ser­vice he was wounded in ac­tion, hos­pi­talised with der­mati­tis, and fined for be­ing ab­sent with­out leave.

His sis­ter-in-law, Eva Lip­scombe, was a mem­ber of the fam­ily in­volved in es­tab­lish­ing the Sol­diers’ Me­mo­rial Av­enue in 1918.

James Youl Frier is re­mem­bered at tree 478 on the av­enue and is com­mem­o­rated on the Ho­bart Town Hall hon­our roll.

Pic­ture: CHRIS KIDD

PAY­ING TRIB­UTE: Geoffrey Frier and his daugh­ter Lyn Kirk­wood next to the me­mo­rial for Pri­vate James Youl Frier, left, at the Sol­diers’ Me­mo­rial Av­enue.

RE­MEM­BERED: James Frier, left, was killed by ma­chine­gun fire while serv­ing in France.

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