Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Archie and John Fedderson

219 Private Archibald Ernest Fedderson, 7th Infantry Battalion, left Australia with the first contingent in October 1914. He had been born in Casterton, although his Danish grandfather had settled in the Yackandandah area in the 1850s. By 1910 the family was living in Munro Street, Coburg. The family’s connection to the area continued after the war, until the death of his brother Ewen in 1963.

Archie Fedderson was a 20 year old electrician (he was a dynamo attendant) when he enlisted. His was not an easy war. He was wounded at Lone Pine in May 1915 with a bullet wound to his right side and chest. In August  1915, he received a bomb wound to the head. The next month he was sent to hospital with kidney trouble. Then in July 1917 he sustained an injury to his foot. In April 1918 he was wounded in action again and in July that year he was hospitalised with influenza.

His father, stung by the listing of his April 1918 wounding as the second time he’d been wounded, wrote to the authorities on 1 May 1918 saying that it was actually the third time his son had been wounded and said:  ‘I have no other object in writing this than to let, if possible, the public see how many times previously wounded men have to return to the line to fight for strong able-bodied men who stay at home.’

Archie Fedderson was a member of the Coburg Presbyterian Church and it is through the church newsletter (‘The Presbyterian Chronicle’) for July 1915, that a small glimpse of the early part of his war emerges. Note that in this account of his wounding, he mentions Wen Shore, whom I wrote about a short time ago.

Image courtesy Coburg Historical Society.

Archie Fedderson survived all this and returned to Australia in 1918. He is remembered on the Town of Coburg Honour Board located in the Coburg Town Hall. He lived another 19 years, dying on 17 May 1937 aged only 40.

Archie’s younger brother was 4570 Private John Jorgen Fedderson of the 14th Infantry Battalion. He enlisted in September 1915 as an 18 year old clerk. In an attempt to fool the authorities about his age (he clearly didn’t have his parents’ consent), he enlisted as John McKinnon and it wasn’t until January 1918 that his ruse was discovered. He was wounded by mustard gas in France in October 1918 and returned to Australia in May 1919.

Image courtesy Coburg Historical Society.

John Fedderson was an old boy of Coburg State School and is featured in the school’s Soldiers Book, which is now available online through the Moreland City Libraries local history catalogue. He also attended Coburg High School and is remembered on the school’s Roll of Honour.

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