Thomas Arthur and William Leslie are the two oldest sons of William Feeney (our Jane's nephew and son of her brother, Thomas) and Elizabeth Marion Faulds who had 12 children.
William was born on 14 June 1897 at Marrickville. He enlisted on 6 March 1916, eight months after his older brother Thomas, and joined the 13th Infantry Battalion, 19th to 23rd Reinforcement of the Australian Imperial Force. The unit left Sydney on 22 August 1916 on the HMAT Wiltshire A18 bound for England and further training. William arrived in France in mid February 1917 and was reported missing on 11 April 1917. Less than a month later, on 5 May 1917, Thomas was killed in France.
William was taken prisoner by the Germans and imprisoned at the Prisoner of War Camp near Limburg, a small German town, 50 miles north-west of Frankfurt.
|Prisioner of War Camp, Limburg, Germany|
"Would you kindly give me any information concerning Pte ? W Feeney and Pte T A Feeney who have been missing since May the 5th and the other since April 11. We have not heard any more of these boys. Hoping you will be able to tell us something."
The response, dated 24 July 1917, informs William and Elizabeth that their sons are both still missing.
We're unsure of when they were informed of Thomas's death. However, by September 1917, William's fate was known and Elizabeth was advised that he was a British Prisoner of War and "suffering from sickness and muscular rheumatism".
The "official" advice that William has been taken a prisoner of war was sent to Elizabeth on 9 January 1918.
William's Australian Red Cross file shows there was some communication from him which was reaching his family by mid 1918. While this appears to come from another Prisoner of War Camp, William remained at Limburg. Here he tells his parents-
"I have only been receiving parcels since last January 23rd. I am keeping in the best of health."
It's unlikely that he would have known of the death of his older brother until he was repatriated to England on 15 December 1918. William returned to Australia on 26 April 1919 and was discharged from the army on 5 June 1919.
Please contact me if you have a photo of William or can share any stories with his Feeney family.