No. 14/7567, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died of wounds on 11 April 1918 (aged 34)
Haringhe (Bandaghem) Military Cemetery, Belgium (Grave II. B. 3)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for
Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards (as Fryars)
Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour
In some records his surname is spelt Fryars and in others Friers.
William Fryers was born on 2 June 1883 at 10 Greenland Street, Belfast and he was a son of Robert and Agnes Fryers (nee Greer).
Robert Fryers worked as a labourer and he and Agnes had at least two children:
James (born 8 June 1880 at 8 Mary’s Market, Belfast)
William (born 2 June 1883 at 10 Greenland Street, Belfast)
William Fryers was a professional soldier and he and Elizabeth (Lizzie) Anderson were married on 30 August 1904 in Ballyblack Presbyterian Church. Lizzie Anderson was a daughter of William Anderson, a labourer.
The Fryers family lived at 36 Upper Movilla Street, Newtownards and later at 27 Queen Street, Newtownards.
William and Lizzie had at least six children, at least five of whom were baptised in Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards:
William (born 6 August 1906 in Movilla Street, Newtownards; died 13 August 1906)
Lizzie (born 29 January 1908 in Movilla Street, Newtownards; died 10 May 1910)
Minnie (born 11 March 1910 in Movilla Street, Newtownards; died 19 March 1910)
Robert Greer (born 22 March 1911)
William Anderson (born 13 November 1912)
John Herbert McMillan (born 26 August 1914 in Movilla Street, Newtownards)
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War William Fryers worked as a labourer and following his previous Army experience he re-enlisted in Newtownards in April 1915. He joined the Royal North Downs and went to France in January 1917.
After William Fryers died, the Chaplain, Rev William H. Leathem, wrote to William’s wife Lizzie and described the circumstances of his death. Rifleman Fryers was brought in to No. 36 Casualty Clearing Station in the early hours of the morning of 11 April 1918. He was suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. He was unconscious and unable to convey any message and he died at 8.30 am.
Lizzie Fryers placed a For King and Country notice in the 27 April 1918 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
Short was my race, long is my rest,
God took me when He thought best;
My time had come, I in a moment fell,
And had not time to say farewell.
Death to me short warning gave,
But quickly took me to the grave;
My weeping wife I left behind,
I had not time to speak my mind.
Lizzie Fryers placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the 12 April 1919 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
I pictured his safe returning,
And longed to clasp his hand;
But God has postponed the meeting;
It will be in the Better Land.
As in the previous year Lizzie placed the notice on behalf of herself and ‘three little sons’.
Rifleman William Fryers was 34 when he died and was buried in Haringhe (Bandaghem) Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Rifleman William Fryers is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial; in the PCI Roll of Honour for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards (as Fryars) and in the Belfast Book of Honour (Page 203).