Monday, 13 June 2016

Dr. Hubert John Burgess Fry (1886 – 1930) – Doctor; Captain with the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War

Hubert John Burgess Fry – known as John – was born in 1886 in Bombay in India where his father, Thomas Burgess Fry, was employed by the Indian Forest Service.   His mother was Alice Rebecca Fry, nee Freeman.

Educated at Charterhouse School, John won a scholarship to Magdalen College, Oxford where he gained a First Class Degree.

In 1911, the family were living in Hampstead and John was studying medicine.

John joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was gazetted on 20th September 1914 to the 2nd London General Hospital with the rank of Lieutenant.   During the First World War John served on the Western Front in France.  

After the war John worked at the Royal Marsden Hospital as a pathologist, specialising in cancer research.  He met and married Dr. Gladys Maill Smith and they had three children.

In 1922, Dr Fry and his wife were invited by Richard Reiss to Welwyn Garden City which was being built at that time.   They became the City’s first doctors.   Sadly, John Fry died in 1930, leaving his wife with three small children.  

These are two of the poems written by Dr John Fry during the First World War.

“Upon this Muddy Stricken Field”

Upon this muddy stricken field you lie

With empty hands and staring eye

Gazing into the void above

Whence looks down the God of Love.


Torn, shattered, rent, this heap of clay

From which the soul has slipped away,

What little value had this thing

Whose part once played, away we fling.


Built of myriad, myriad cells

Within whose structure mystery dwells,

And from which mystery springs this life

With all its desolation, strife.


Oh! that a thing so wondrous wrought

Should by so little come to nought.

All that was built through ages past

Brought to an end like this at last.


“My Body”

 (Written before Bullecourt June 1917 with B.E.F. France)

Clod of clay.

Into the ditch with it,

Fling it away.

It has played its part

Had its brief day.

No tears over it, no regret.

No need now to fret.

Though thought has slipped away

Through the mesh of its net.


No use is it now

It can nothing devise

Nothing imagine,

Dumbly it lies.

Nothing to prize now

Though it seemed well enough

To do what was needed.

Get rid of the stuff.


Away with it then

It is nothing worth.

The most it can do

Is to fertilise the earth.


With many thanks to Ann Fox and Sue Evans, daughter and grand-daughter of Dr. Fry for the information and poems.   Photo of Dr. John Fry in his RAMC uniform in WW1.