4th Battalion, AIF
Date/Place of Birth: 1880, Rocky Ponds via Harden, NSW
Date/Place of Death: 15 April 1918, France
Biographical details: William Feening was born in 1880 the son of John and Martha (nee Barker) Feening. He was educated at Narromine before the family moved to the Penrith area. On enlistment, Feening was listed as a municipal employee.
Service details: Feening enlisted on 16 November 1914 and was allocated to the 2nd Reinforcements, 4th Battalion. It is believed that Feening sailed to Egypt aboard A48 HMAT Seang Bee which left Sydney on 11 February 1915. On 10 April 1915, Feening embarked on the Lake Michigan for the trip to Gallipoli. The 4th Battalion took part in the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915 as part of the second and third waves and were actively involved in the defence of the beachhead. In August 1915, along with the rest of the 1st Brigade, the 4th Battalion led the charge at Lone Pine. On 3 September 1915, Feening suffered concussion and was admitted to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station with pyrexia of unknown origin and was later listed as dangerously ill. Two days later, he was transported aboard the SS Neuralia to Imbros, a Greek Island used as a staging post for operations on the Gallipoli peninsula and was admitted to the 25th Casualty Clearing Station, and later transported aboard the HS Oxfordshire to a hospital in Malta. He was transferred to the King George Hospital at Stamford, England n 24 September 1915. Feening’s date of discharge from hospital was not noted on his service record. However, he was listed as being transferred from Abbey Wood convalescent hospital, Kent to Monte Video in Weymouth on 5 May 1916.
On 28 July 1916, Feening was transferred from No 2 Command Depot Perham Downs to the 1st Training Battalion at Weymouth and was debited 5 shillings for loss of kit. Feening left for the Western Front on 31 July 1916 and after a brief time at No 1 Australian Divisional Base Depot rejoined the 4th Battalion at the Somme on 12 August 1916. On 6 November 1916, Feening received a gunshot wound to his left foot and was admitted to the 5th Field Ambulance before being transferred to the 4th General Hospital. Feening was transferred to England aboard the HS Panama on 10 November and admitted to the 1st Southern General Hospital, Birmingham two days later. Feening was later transferred to the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital on 23 January 1917. He was discharged and went on furlough on 5 March 1917, reporting to Wareham on 20 March 1917. On 29 April 1917, Feening was transferred to the 62nd Battalion, then based at Windmill Hill Andover, as part of the AIF’s expansion to meet increasing commitments on the battle field. On 18 June 1917, Feening was admitted to the 16th Field Ambulance and was later hospitalised at the 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital, Fovant with venereal disease. Feening returned to his unit on 20 July 1917 and reported to No 1 Command Depot at Bulford on 11 August 1917. After the huge losses at Messines, it was decided to disband the 6th Division battalions including the 62nd Battalion and on 1 October 1917, Feening proceeded overseas to join the 4th Battalion as a reinforcement, rejoining his unit the following day in the Ypres sector. By April 1918 the 4th Battalion was in the line trying to halt the German Spring Offensive. On 10 April 1918, Feening was found guilty of being drunk and was awarded 14 days confinement to barracks and forfeited 14 days pay. On 13 April 1918, Feening suffered gunshot wounds to the head and hands. According to a fellow soldier a shell dropped in the trench at Strazeele, near Hazebrouk burying some of the men. Feening was severely wounded and taken to the 9th Field Ambulance before being transferred to the15th Casualty Clearing Station at Ebblinghem where he died two days later.
Memorial Details: Feening is commemorated on Memorial Panel 40, 180 Ebblinghem Military Cemetery and on the Honor Roll at Victoria Park, St Marys.
National Archives of Australia Search: B2455, Feening W 1351
Nepean Times 12 February 1916, p4
Soldier’s letters: Mr H Feening, of Penrith, is in receipt of a letter from his brother, Private W Feening, written from King George Hospital, London. Extracts are:-
I suppose you will be surprised to hear I am in London. I got sick at Gallipoli – so they sent me to King George Hospital. I have been here 12 weeks – in bed 11. I am up now, and Feeling a lot better. I had fever and concussion at base of brain, caused through a shell. I got blown up and buried – had a very narrow squeak of being killed. I have been driving in a motor car three times, and out to tea and concerts at different places. Some of the “toffs” send their motor cars to the hospital and take us out for a drive – a very nice change from being in bed so long. What I have seen of London so far I like alright. I went out to Buckingham Palace and had a look through the King’s stables and state coaches. Some very nice horses are there; one horse is 23 years old – a find big horse; “Old Dad” they call him. The harness is very nice; two men do nothing but look after it. One of the coaches weight four and a half tons; they drive eight creamy horses in it, and when the horses are attached to it is 120 feet long; it has been in six Coronations. It had not been used for 40 years till the late King Edward came to the Throne. I think I will be here for Christmas, and then go to some convalescent home, and then I don’t know what they will do with me. I put in 21 weeks at Gallipoli.