Lieutenant Fry is recorded on the Cheadle Hulme Memorial as T C Fry. This made identification difficult as no officer was listed in official records with those initials. It was possible to speculate, however, that his name had been listed by a friend, who knew him as Ted, rather than a close family member. The discovery of a newspaper report about the unveiling of the memorial has confirmed that he is this officer.
Charles originated from Dorset. His parents, Thomas and Anna Fry lived at “Baglake”, Litton Cheney, Dorset. He had been born on 26 December 1881. He attended Dover College between 1895 and 1901 and was head prefect in his final year. He gained a BA from Oxford University, attending Merton College and was President of the Boat Club in 1903/4.
In 1906, he secured a position as Assistant Master at Manchester Grammar School. He lived at Hill Top Avenue, Cheadle Hulme with his friend and colleague, Charles Merryweather (also remembered on the memorial). Shortly after the outbreak of war, he applied to become an officer. His address for correspondence was the School. His application described him as being 68 inches tall, 161.5 pounds in weight and with a chest of 38.5 inches. He wore glasses and had good vision with them.
At the time, he was a batchelor but, shortly after, he married Hilda Sophie. He left for France in 1915. On 24 July 1916, Charles was admitted to No 2 Red Cross Hospital in Rouen with a slight gunshot wound to his hand.
In mid-April 1917, Charles’ unit was near the village of Athies, on the outskirts of Arras. “D” Battery of the Brigade was established in May 1916 after a reorganisation of 3rd Division’s artillery. After January 1917, it was attached to the Army Corps and would have been sent wherever it was most needed. A Battery normally comprised 200 men, commanded by a Major. Charles would have been responsible for two of the Battery’s six 18-pounder guns.
The Brigade’s War Diary records the day “Chemical works, chateaux, Mount Pleasant Wood heavily bombarded. D/23 busy moving to new position. They have a direct hit on a gun team which kills Lt C E Fry, 2 farriers and 1 driver. 1 gunner wounded.”
After the War, Hilda was living at The Old Rectory, Evershot, Dorset. There is a brass plaque in the village church which commemorates Hilda and her older sister. It notes she died on 20 April 1964, in her 81st year, having lived in the village for 48 years. This would be consistent with her going to live near her sister after Charles had been killed. With no family living locally, Charles’ inscription on the memorial must have been arranged by a friend. It is also reasonable to assume that, in that case, he must have been known as Ted. He is also remembered on the School’s Roll of Honour, but is not recorded on the Evershot memorial.
(Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)