Guest blogger: Simon Farley, Fryer Librarian.
‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ John 15:13, KJV
Remembering Walde Gerard Fisher (1894-1918) and Charles Robertson Wonderley (1894-1918) friends and students together at The University of Queensland who both graduated with firsts in Classics on the same day and who lost their lives on this day 100 years ago.
Born 24th August 1894 in Horsham, he won a Government Grammar School scholarship to Ipswich Grammar in 1908 and a University scholarship to The University of Queensland in 1913. Matriculating in March 1913, Walde attended UQ’s St. John’s College. He graduated with First Class Honours in Classics in 1916. He enlisted on the 28th February 1916 with the 42nd Battalion and embarked for active service on 5th June 1916. He was appointed Lance-Corporal on 28th January 1917, 2nd Lieutenant on 28th February 1917 and Lieutenant on 28th September 1917.
Walde Fisher was killed in action at the age of 23 near Amiens at Sailly-le-Sec, France on the 5th April 1918. His papers are held in UQ’s Fryer Library and at The Australian War Memorial.
Born 5th October 1894 in Toowoomba, he studied at Toowoomba Grammar and matriculated March 1913 to study Arts at UQ. He graduated with First Class Honours in Classics in 1916. He enlisted 11th March 1916, eventually serving in the 47th Battalion and embarked for active service 24th January 1917. Appointed Lance-Corporal on 22nd August 1917, he was awarded the Military Medal for his actions in which he was wounded on 12th October 1917. He was killed in Amiens, France, at the age of 23 on the 5th April 1918. His Uncle was the distinguished WWI commander Brigadier-General JC Robertson DSO.
Information taken from “Faces of the Fallen” compiled by University Archivist, Bruce Ibsen: https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:371797.
As noted by Sophie Church on page 38 of A Soul Unsheathed: the life and death of Lieutenant Walde Fisher, “Charlie and Walde shared remarkable similarities. Like Walde, Charlie, who was younger by just two months, was Dux of his school, Toowoomba Grammar, in both 1911 and 1912. As members of their respective First XV rugby teams, the two boys had on occasion met on the football field during their schooldays. They were both open scholarship winners in 1912 (Charlie topped the State). Beginning their studies in the Faculty of Arts together in 1913. In 1916, Charlie and Walde enlisted and trained together, joining different battalions, but later finding themselves in near proximity in France. By an incredible twist of fate, their lives ended simultaneously. They were killed in action on the same day and they now lie buried less than 10 kilometres apart, among the remnants of the Western Front, not far from Amiens. ‘Endowed with brilliant gifts, of high ideals and resolute character, he was of those who are the hope of their nation,’ recorded the University Magazine of Charles Wonderley, who had been awarded the Military Medal. At the uncharacteristically somber Commem in 1918, when the University’s Roll of Honour was sorrowfully read, Charles Wonderley and Walde Fisher were just two of the names so achingly familiar to those who listened with bowed heads. ‘Those imperishable names whose memory serves us to try to carry on the task they have had to leave to us, whose devotion and example set the standard and spirit of the University.’”
Photographs of Walde and Charlie’s headstones taken by University Archivist, Bruce Ibsen when paying his respects during a visit to the Somme battlefields in 2017.
Simon Farley – Fryer Librarian, The University of Queensland