Henry Arundel Cheney
UNIT SERVED: 10th / 50th Battalion
Service Number: 806
Henry was the son of Henry and Margaret Cheney, of Prince’s Road, Mitcham South Australia. He was born at Northallerton, Yorkshire in England and his brother Edward Lloyd Cheney was also killed in the war. At the time of enlistment Henry was just over 24 years of age. He was 5 feet and 7 inches tall and identified with the Church of England at the time of enlistment.
Henry enlisted with his brother Edward on the 28th of August 1914 just two weeks after the declaration of war. Both brothers departed from Adelaide on the HMT Ionian on March 2nd, 1915 and proceeded to Egypt to join the MEF prior to the Gallipoli Campaign. As members of the 10th Battalion the brothers were part of one of the first battalions to land on the Gallipoli peninsula and begin the famous Anzac campaign. Henry was promoted to Corporal on July 1st. On the 25th August Henry was admitted sick to hospital with diarrhoea and transferred to Mudros. He was diagnosed with dysentery and then transferred to Malta. In the summer months of July- September sickness was rife amongst the troops on the peninsula with many medical evacuations as typhoid and dysentery added to the horrific living conditions in the trenches. Life in the trenches was ghastly made even more so with plagues of flies and the lack of clean water exacerbated the already daily suffering of the men. Henry was eventually transferred to Epson hospital in the UK on the 15th of September.
While in London Henry was AWOL for 2 days and was detained for 72 hours and forfeited 6 days’ pay. After several months in England it was back to Egypt for Henry landing in Alexandria from the ‘Kingstonian’ at the start of March 1916. In April of 1916 he was transferred to the 50th Battalion from the 10th.
With the closure of 1915 and the beginning of a new year of the war, the 50th Battalion was formed out of the 10th, and became one of South Australia’s most well -known units. From March to June 1916, Edward’s unit was stationed in Egypt ready for transfer to the horrors of the Western Front. On the ‘Arcadian’ on 12th of June, Henry joined his brother Edward and disembarked in the south of France at the port of Marseilles to join the many units of the AIF which would ultimately join the BEF in France and Belgium. On the first of July Henry was promoted to sergeant and then paradoxically 5 days later was on a charge of … ‘neglect of duty as an NCO in that he failed to report men of his unit whom he found to be disobeying a routine order which had been promulgated to all ranks of the unit. Award- severe reprimand.’ Henry’s bad luck with illness continued with another hospitalisation on the 3rd of August and later being transferred to Etaples with a sprained ankle on the 16th. The sprain must have been serious as he was moved to Harefield in England for nearly a month. October and November involved training at the Command School for Henry before embarking on the ‘SS Invicta’ at Folkestone to return to Etaples in France. Henry re-joined his unit on the 7th of February 1917 only to be Killed in Action on the 2nd of April 1917. Like so many of his peers, he was lost in action never to have his own grave. He is remembered with 11,000 of his countrymen on the Australian National Memorial at Villers Bretonneux. Henry was age 26. He was the great uncle of Stephen Downs, Mount Barker South Australia.