Monday, 30 April 2018

Private William Leslie Killion - brother of Thomas Arthur Feeney

The story of Private Thomas Arthur Feeney was published on Anzac Day 2018.  You can read it here.  After reading this, his great niece, Christine, told me about the First World War experience of Thomas's younger brother, William Leslie Feeney.

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
News of the fate of their sons was slow to be relayed to William and Elizabeth.  This letter is from William's service records.  Dated 14 July 1917, it reads-

"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.

William returned to the family home at 43 Carrington Road Marrickville and worked as a labourer.   He lived with his parents until their deaths.  William retired to the Central Coast of NSW and died on 12 September 1987.  

Please contact me if you have a photo of William or can share any stories with his Feeney family.

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