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Robert Frater


Robert Andrew Frater, No. 12/1026, Auckland Infantry Battalion: died of wounds, 30 April 1915.

Lieutenant Robert Frater is one of 18,058 New Zealanders who died as a result of First World War service and are listed on the Roll of Honour.

Born in Auckland in 1891 to parents Robert and Martha, Robert Frater was a young man of 23 when war broke out in August 1914. A former student at Auckland Grammar School where he had excelled at sport, he was studying at Auckland University College and working at Frater Brothers, his father’s land agency and sharebroking firm, when he enlisted just six days after war was declared. 

Frater began his war service as a private with the Auckland Infantry Battalion but quickly moved up the ranks, becoming a sergeant in September 1914 and a second lieutenant in March the following year. His promotion to lieutenant was in the pipeline barely a month later. Frater was with the Main Body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force which left the Dominion in October 1914. Their destination was initially unknown but soon they arrived in Egypt, where Frater – like many New Zealand soldiers – took the opportunity to take in the sights on his leave days, visiting the pyramids and sphinx at Giza with fellow students of Auckland University College. Soon the time for sightseeing was over and Frater found himself taking part in the landing at Gallipoli.

Frater was in command of a machine gun section during the landing. Robert Steele, a machine gunner in Frater’s section, described the scene as they fought their way up from the beach:

Lt Bob Frater gave the order for us to advance and collect… over the ridge in the next gully. We were under a perfect hail of shrapnel and bullets… [1]

While leading his men forward Frater was badly wounded. He managed to get back to the beach and was evacuated to the transport ship Seeam Chow, but died at sea five days later, on 30 April. The following day Frater’s promotion to lieutenant was confirmed. Frater is remembered in several different memorials. Frater Avenue on the North Shore in Auckland was named in his memory in 1917.

Frater Road sign

Further information

[1] Private R.B. Steele, quoted in Christopher Pugsley, Gallipoli: the New Zealand Story, Raupo Books, North Shore, 2008, p.122


Auckland Libraries 
Sir George Grey Special Collections 
Reference: AWNS_19150506_p039_i002_b

Frater Ave sign image, Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge, 2011

How to cite this page

Robert Frater, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated