McFee, Leonard Cleveland

Last updated on 02-Jun-19

Leonard Cleveland McFee


3343 Pte. Leonard Cleveland McFee was born in Hawthorn in 1887 to William Thomas McFee and Annie Aspinall.He had worked for Captain Lock on the ketch Trucanini and was oystering at Rhyll with his brother Allan at the start of the war. 


He enlisted with the 10/14thBattalion on 5th July 1915 and trained at Broadmeadows.  He transferred to the 10/6th Battalion on 2nd August then 7/22nd on 25th November.Len embarked for Egypt on HMATCommonwealth on 26th November 1915.He transferred to the 7th Battalion at Serapeum, Egypt on 24th February 1916.


He embarked Alexandria for Marseilles 23rd March 1916 and entered the front line trenches in France on 3rd May.  The battalion’s first major action was at Pozieres in the Somme between 23-27thJuly.  Len was admitted to the 5th General Hospital Rouen with shell shock on 26th July.  He rejoined the unit in Belgium on 3rd September.

“After Pozières the battalion manned trenches in the Ypres salient in Belgium, before returning to the Somme valley.  It saw out the horrendous winter of 1916-1917 rotating between training, working parties and duty in the trenches.”

Australian War Memorial web site.

Len was sick to hospital on 9th January and was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital Wandsworth with trench feet on 25th January 1917.


He marched in to No. 2 Com. Depot Weymouth from Perham Downs on 5th March 1917.


Len transferred to the 17th Field Ambulance, part of the newly formed 6th Division on 16th June 1917 however the Division was short lived as a result of manpower shortages and it was disbanded in September 1917 without seeing action. 


Len returned early to Australia on HMAT Port Darwin in January 1918 suffering from trench feet.


He married Margaret Galvin Hawse in 1923 at Ballarat and they lived in the former Heard home at Rhyll.


After the war Len worked on the local ferries and gained his River and Bay Masters Certificate in 1929.  He was master of the ferries Plover, Ventnor, Genista, Narrabeen, Alvina and Estelle Star.


He enlisted again in the Second World War on 26th June 1941 serving at Ballarat, Victoria as a Sapper with the 5 Army Troops Coy.


Len died in May 1963 and was cremated at The Necropolis, Springvale.


Leonard Cleveland McFee is commemorated on the Phillip Island RSL Book of Honour and the Phillip Island RSL Roll of Honour.