17th Battalion, AIF
Date/Place of Birth: 1894, Penrith, NSW
Date/Place of Death: 31 August 1918, St Quentin, France
Biographical details: Alfred Skeen was born in Penrith in 1894, the son of Thomas and Mary Ann (nee Wilson) Skeen. After attending Penrith Superior Public School, Skeen worked as a coal miner around the Lithgow district and enlisted for active service at this locality.
Service details: Skeen enlisted on 5 January 1916, and trained at the Lithgow Depot Company until being transferred to Bathurst Depot Company on 18 January 1916. On 9 March 1916, Skeen was allocated to the 13th Reinforcements, 17th Battalion before being transferred to the 14th Reinforcements, 17th Battalion on 17 April 1916. After several months of training, Skeen embarked on A18 HMAT Wiltshire on 22 August 1916 bound for England. While on board the transport ship, Skeen was hospitalised with mumps from 17 September until 7 October 1916. He disembarked on 13 October 1916 at Plymouth and was taken on the strength of No 3 Command Depot the same day. On 4 November 1916, Skeen marched into the 5th Training Battalion at Rollestone, England and embarked for France aboard the Golden Eagle on 13 December 1916 . Skeen joined his unit on 18 December 1916. From 17 April until 25 April 1917, Skeen was hospitalised in France with an unknown illness. He suffered gun shot wounds to his right arm on 3 May 1917 and was treated at the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station before being transferred to the 12th Convalescent Hospital at Rouen, France on 4 May 1917. On 2 June 1917, Skeen embarked for England aboard the Western Australia and was hospitalised at the Military Hospital, Tooting with gun shot wounds to the right arm and trench fever, an illness caused by lice infestation in the trenches and characterised by a range of symptoms including a rash, fever, severe headaches and muscular pain of the trunk and legs (particularly the shins). On 25 June 1917, Skeen was discharged from hospital and was sent on leave until 9 July 1917. Skeen was sent to No 1 Command Depot, Perham Downs England. On 27 September 1917, Skeen transferred to the Overseas Training Depot and by 19 October 1917, embarked aboard the Longbridge Deverill for France. After a period of time with No 2 Australian Divisional Base Depot, Skeen rejoined his unit on 27 October 1917. Skeen was killed by a gun bullet through the heart during the battle of St Quentin on 31 August 1918.
Memorial Details: is commemorated on Memorial Panel 84, 511 Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, France and on the Roll of Honor at Memory Park, Penrith.
Australian War Memorial First World War Nominal Roll
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
NAA: B2455, SKEEN A 5416.
Nepean Times 21 September 1918, p2, c3
Fallen Heroes – Private Alfred Skeen
Since the above was written, word has been received by Mr T A Skeen, of Penrith, through Rev N M Lloyd, that his son, Private Alfred Skeen was killed in action on 22nd August. The deceased hero, who was 24 years of age, was educated at the local Superior High School. He enlisted for active service at Lithgow, and sailed for England about three months later. Private Skeen was a native of this town, and a fine stamp of Australian manhood.