Indigenous Australian, Frederick Walter WRIGHT, Depot
Frederick Walter WRIGHT was born in Bourke, NSW in 1894 to Louisa Wright and James. In July 1915 he volunteered to serve with the first AIF, while troops were still fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Fred soon found himself at Enoggera military camp, just outside Brisbane, assigned to the 9th Reinforcements for the 9th Infantry Battalion.
Fred’s time with the military was tumultuous, the military authorities expected him to bow to the discipline of military life, but Fred was leading a parallel life as the boxer ‘Friday Wright‘.
While he was ‘in camp’ Fred made sure he was available to compete against his regular opponent Charlie Dickson, with, or without permission. In October 1915, a boxing stadium or ‘soldiers stadium’ opened on the outskirts of the army camp at Enoggera. One of the main attractions for the night was Friday Wright and his opponent Tommy Ryan.
Fred Wright, flew in the face of military discipline and in March 1916, having tested the length of their tolerance, it was recommended that he be discharged and cease any further involvement with the armed forces.
The Queenslander Pictorial, 1 July 1916, p.22
The officer at the time, Lieutenant Harris, listed a string of ‘offences’ and asked that he be transferred, but this was soon taken to be a request for discharge, which was quickly approved.
A telling comment on his service record is as follows: “The ways of a big town have almost demoralized him.”
We don’t know if that really was the case, or whether it that he was a man of proud Aboriginal heritage that ‘bettered’ his opponents – whatever colour or heritage – by facing them in the ring, and then celebrated his success.
The officer who recommended his discharge also thought he was a ‘half caste Maori’ which is why under the laws of the day, he was permitted him to sign up to fight for his country.
Frederick Walter Wright was discharged from the AIF in March 1916 and he continued his life as a boxer into the 1920s.
Read more …
Service record: WRIGHT, Frederick Walter
Boxing in Brisbane. The Telegraph, 16 September 1915, p.7
A.I.F. “White City”. The Brisbane Courier, 20 January 1916, p.6
Queensland’s Indigenous Servicemen
One of the soldiers in SLQ’s HistoryPin collection
Marg Powell & Des Crump | QANZAC100, State Library of Queensland