Private Patrick Fahey +
St Patrick’s Catholic School Roll of Honour
Born: 1891 - Pakenham, Victoria
Enlisted: 16 November 1915 aged 24
Unit: 31st Battalion, 4th Reinforcement (SERN: 2316)
Served: Egypt & Western Front
Killed in action: 16 October 1917 - near Ypres, Belgium
The final brother to enlist was Patrick, who like his brothers was educated at St Patrick’s Primary School. Patrick enlisted in November 1915 at Maitland West NSW where he was working in the mines. Patrick’s job was as a “wheeler” leading the ponies that hauled the ore carts (1). Patrick was originally assigned to the 4th Reinforcement, 31st battalion, but ended up being transferred to the 5th Pioneer Battalion, the same battalion as his brother Thomas (2). So it is highly likely that the two brothers served side by side on he Western Front (3). He was taken on strength with the 5th Pioneer Battalion on 21 July, just after the disastrous Australian attack on the German lines at Fromelles. On 19 August 1916, Patrick was wounded in action, suffering severe gun shot wounds to the shoulder and hip. He did not return to his unit until late December 1916. On 15 October 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), Patrick was severely wounded in action again, this time in the stomach and thigh. At the time, the Battalion was engaged in work around the Dickebush, Westhoek and Zonnebeke area. According to the Battalion’s war diary, the C Coy started work on drainage and repair of the road from Zonnebeke to Molenaarelsthoek, while enemy shelling at Westhoek was bad all day (4). Patrick was evacuated to the 2nd Canadian casualty clearing station, but died of his wounds the following day, and was buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, where Jack Clancy, another digger who attended St Patrick’s School, is also buried. Amongst Patrick’s personal effects returned to his mother Margaret were a religious book and scapulars, perhaps in part reflecting the faith development he received years before at St Patrick’s (5).
The surviving records do not provide us with any sense of the grief and loss Margaret must have felt at losing Patrick. With his death coming less than a year after Thomas’s, it must have been absolutely devastating for her. While the small military pension she received would have helped Margaret make ends meet - her second husband had also died in 1916 (6) - it would have provided little comfort as she mourned two sons buried in a far away land. In her grief, Margaret erected a small memorial to Patrick and Thomas in Pakenham Cemetery in the family plot where their father and grandfather are buried.
(1) & (6) Narre Warren & District Family History Group (2016), pp. 38-9
(2) & (5) NAA B2455, FAHEY, P
(3) Pakenham Gazette 27/4/2016, p. 20
(4) AWM 4 14/17/20 War Unit Diary 5th Australian Pioneer Battalion - October 1917 p. 2