John Fry was born in 1923, educated at Felsted and joined the 22nd Dragoons from Sandhurst in 1943.

On 12 October 1944, he was posted to the 4th Hussars who were east of the River Marecchia and preparing for the final assault on the River Po.

The weather, however, deteriorated to such an extent that operations were suspended adding to which the Regiment was in the process of having two Squadrons, ‘A’ and ‘C’, converted to Kangaroos, troop-carrying turretless Shermans. For this purpose, the Regiment moved back to the Ancona area and John joined ‘B’ Squadron at Castel d’Emilio.

At the end of December, the Regiment moved back into the line at Ravenna. The Squadron Leader, Maj John Ogier, sent him to 2nd Troop for acclimatisation and he was placed in the lap gunner’s seat in the Troop Leader’s Shennan.

John was, in today’s vernacular, a very laid-back individual with a distinct musical bent. He arrived at 2nd Troop complete with a tuning fork which he rapped repeatedly on various surfaces intoning the relevant notes. He fitted in very easily and was a most popular addition to the Troop.

On one occasion the Troop was billeted in a village called Prati whence it sortied daily to support the Ist Welch Regiment on the River Senio. During the night the guard woke the Troop Leader to report that strange noises were emanating from the derelict church on the far side of the village.

After collecting the Troop Sergeant and all suitably armed, they made their cautious way there only to find John Fry seated at and playing the remains of the organ.

On another occasion when the Squadron was attacking positions along the River Senio, the Troop Leader gave orders to his gunner to engage the enemy with the coax machine gun, but he trod on the wrong button and fired the main armament by mistake. John’s head projecting from the lap-gunner’s hatch was only feet from the muzzle of the 75 as a result of which his hat soared feet into the air. He was deaf for some time afterwards.

But these events should not convey the impression that John was nothing other than a valued member of the Troop and contributed greatly to its efficiency and its morale. At the end of hostilities, he remained with ‘B’ Squadron in Austria and subsequently in Trieste when the Regiment moved there in November 1945.

On leaving the Regiment in 1946 John was able to concentrate on his true love of music. For some 30 years, he was involved with the Suffolk Music Festival, latterly as President. He had a fine tenor voice and in 1978 won the Suffolk Vocal Championship.

He was a long-time member of the Bury Cathedral Choir and also composed much church music.

When the 4th Hussars Dining Club was formed in 1994 John was an enthusiastic member and missed very few annual dinners.

He was an immensely popular officer and will be sadly missed by his comrades in arms.

John died on 24 October 2007.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. Italy 1943-5 timeline