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John Frederick MC NAUGHT MC

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Capt 4426 34y 15 Jul 1915 30 Jul 1919 5

John Frederick McNaught MC (1881-1954)


John Frederick (’Fred’) McNaught was a Brisbane dentist who was awarded the Military Cross for bravery in action at Meteren, France on 19 July 1918, while serving in the 9th Infantry Battalion of the AIF. The citation for his Military Cross was:

Captain McNAUGHT conducted the advance of a Company. His skill and coolness under the direct fire of snipers and machine guns won the admiration of all ranks and was largely responsible for the success achieved. Later with two men he captured two enemy machine guns and crews, thereby removing obstacles which threatened his men during the work of consolidation. He was eventually wounded whilst supervising the consolidation at final objective.

Family background and early life

Fred was born in Brisbane on 5 August 1881, the fourth son of John Ure McNaught, a bookseller and publisher, and Eliza Ann (nee Bothamley). His grandparents Daniel and Barbara McNaught were amongst the first wave of Scottish immigrants to Queensland, arriving in late 1848, and Daniel worked as manager of the joinery works of his brother-in-law - businessman and contractor John Petrie.

As foreman carpenter for Petrie Daniel worked on many construction projects such as Parliament House and the Supreme Court. In addition, he was active in politics, a long-term member and Deacon in the Wharf Street Congregational Church, and a magistrate of the colony.

John Ure McNaught and his family were also members of Wharf Street Church and John followed his father in being a Deacon there.  He was a member of the Queensland Recruiting Committee formed in June 1915, which was notable for being initially an independent and privately funded body of citizen volunteers, as opposed to its counterparts in other States. On his death in 1924, John was noted as having been an ‘old and highly respected resident of Brisbane’.

Training as a dentist

Fred trained as a dentist under his older brother Arthur in Bundaberg, and was registered by the Queensland Dental Board in August 1905.  By 1908 he was working in Charleville, Queensland.  The Australian Dental Association (Qld Branch) (ADAQ) records Fred and his brother Arthur attending the Third Australian Dental Congress which was held in Brisbane in 1912.    In late 1913 Fred returned to Brisbane and the family home in Augustus Street, Toowong.

War service

On 15 July 1915 Fred had an advertisement appear for the letting of his suite of offices in Federal Chambers, Queen Street and went to enlist in the AIF.  Fred had served for 18 months as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Battalion of the militia and was initially made a Sergeant in the AIF.  

On 27 October 1916 he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, and embarked on the Wandilla in Brisbane on 31 January 1916 as part of the 14th reinforcements for the 9th Battalion.

March 1916 was spent in Egypt and then via Marseilles, Fred reached the 9th Battalion in France on 25 May 1916. The 9th took part in the Battle of Pozieres and the initial attack was successful in taking the village on 23 July 1916.  

Wounded in action

Fred suffered a gunshot wound to his right leg and shrapnel wounds in his arm in that attack. Fierce fighting continued over the ensuing days and Fred was one of what was a total of 17,000 Australian casualties by the end of the battle.

Fred was promoted to Lieutenant on 3 August 1916 while in hospital, and was able to return to the 9th on 18 August.

Fred succumbed to pneumonia in late February 1917 and it took a significant period to recover sufficiently to return to action, which he did in August 1917.  

Soon after his return he was made a Captain (20 August 1917). Then in the following month the 9th was engaged in the Battle of Polygon Wood in Belgium, where on the third day of the attack Fred was buried by a shell explosion and suffered scalp lacerations. He returned to duty after a few days.

In June 1918 Fred was hospitalised for ‘debility’, but returned after a month. The following month his actions in the Meteren sector on 19 July led to the award of the Military Cross, as well as his third wounding in action - a serious gunshot wound to his left shoulder. It took until October before Fred could convince the medical staff that he was well enough to return to duty.

The Armistice took effect on 11 November 1918 and the huge process of returning the troops to Australia extended well into 1919. Fred returned to Australia on the Suffolk, arriving back in the middle of 1919.


Fred resumed his dentistry practice and the postal directory of 1926-1927 shows his surgery situated on the 2nd Floor of the Kodak Building, 250-252 Queen Street Brisbane.   Another dentist who also had her practice on the 2nd floor of the Kodak Building and is listed on the honour boards is Martha Burns.

On 23 October 1929, Fred married Eileen Mary Russell in the Corpus Christi (Roman Catholic) Church in Nundah. The couple lived in Evans Street, Nundah for many years. Fred was involved in the Queensland branch of the Australian Dental Association and in Returned Service affairs. Eileen was the organiser of fundraising activities for the Nundah and district branch of the Red Cross during the Second World War, as well as being involved with the Ladies Auxiliary of the Dental Association.


Fred died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 72 on 28 June 1954. His fellow 9th Battalion veterans placed a notice in the papers ‘in respectful and Proud Memory of their Old Comrade and Friend’.  He was cremated at Mt Thompson, with Presbyterian rites, and his ashes interred there.

Select bibliography
• Australian War Memorial
• National Archives of Australia
• Queensland births, marriages and deaths registers
• Queensland electoral rolls
• Queensland Heritage Register, Queensland Heritage Council, Mountview House entry 602317
• Queensland State Archives – blog on ‘Recruitment and Enlistment’ 28 February 2014
• Courier Mail (Brisbane) 16 October 1940 p9
• Sunday Mail (Brisbane) 29 December 1940 p6
• The Brisbane Courier 15 July 1915 p10
• The Telegraph (Brisbane) 25 September 1924 p12; 8 July 1930 p19; 12 July 1930 p16; 18 October 1930 p15; 4 February 1932 p12; 13 November 1935 p6; 29 August 1940 p9; 18 October 1940 p5 
• Postal Directory 1926-1927, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
• Image:  Kodak Building, Queen Street, Brisbane courtesy of Museum Victoria.

Compiled by Ian Carnell November 2015.  Additions and images by Miriam King 2023, 2024©



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