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Lewis, Frederick George (1886–1918)

Frederick George Lewis, c. 1916 photographer unknown

Frederick George Lewis, c. 1916 photographer unknown

from Bank of NSW Roll of Honour

FREDERICK GEORGE LEWIS was born at South Brisbane on 30th January, 1886, the son of Mr. J. R. H. Lewis and Mrs. Lucie Lewis. He was educated at the Brisbane Boys’ Central School and the Brisbane Grammar School. Entering the Bank’s service on 17th September, 1903, at Brisbane, he was promoted in March, 1907, to ledger-keeper at Toowoomba, Queensland; in October, 1910, he was promoted to teller at Gympie; and in December, 1911, returned to the Brisbane Branch.

Frederick George Lewis enlisted in October, 1915, and was selected for training in the Officers’ School. Early in January, 1916, he was gazetted second-lieutenant and was appointed to D Company, 42nd Battalion, with which unit he sailed from Australia in the following June.

After service in England, he was promoted to lieutenant and went with his battalion to France. While there he took part in many minor operations, and on the morning of the great mining feat at Messines, he was wounded by a shell fragment and gassed. Recovering rapidly in the Wandsworth Hospital, London, he was able to rejoin his battalion early in September.

As Lieutenant Lewis had been successful in arranging entertainments for the men in camp, on the transport, and later, behind the lines in France, he was selected by General Monash to command the 3rd Divisional Concert Party, organized to provide entertainment for the division during the winter. Lieut. Lewis’s party, named the “Cooees,” gained a high reputation for efficiency and popularity. During the operations in the spring and summer of 1918 the Cooees were frequently in the fighting line.

The toll of officers of the 42nd Battalion was so heavy, that in August, 1918, Lieut. Lewis was recalled to his unit, and at once went into action as acting-captain. He had already been recommended for a captaincy. He was engaged at Mont St. Quentin on the morning of 1st September, when his company, entrenched in a large shell-hole, were awaiting supports. Lieut. Lewis, anxious for the safety of his men, went forward to direct the fire of some Stokes’ Trench Mortars on to a nest of enemy machine guns; while doing so he was shot in several places and died at once.

Colonel Woolcock spoke of him as a keen, painstaking officer, full of dash and courage, and caring for his men like a father. The Methodist Chaplain, Major Mills, paid a tribute to his memory as that of one ‘‘whose courage and devotion to duty made him, not only a fine officer, but in the truest sense of the word, an Australian gentleman.” The Roman Catholic Chaplain, Father H. W. Jones, also spoke of him as “one of Nature’s gentlemen, loved and esteemed by officers and men.”

Original Publication

  • Bank of New South Wales Roll of Honour, 1921, p 232-233

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Citation details

'Lewis, Frederick George (1886–1918)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/lewis-frederick-george-22640/text32219, accessed 28 January 2021.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Frederick George Lewis, c. 1916 photographer unknown

Frederick George Lewis, c. 1916 photographer unknown

from Bank of NSW Roll of Honour