Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

Search the Guide

To find information in this Guide please select one of the green coloured options.

To Select a Page Group when displayed, right click and select 'Open'.

Copyright Conditions Apply.

PILLOW, Henry Fenton (1893-1918) +

PILLOW, Henry Fenton (1893-1918)

Born in Geelong on 5 March 1893, the son of Henry and Harriet nee Fairman, of 'Minerva', Laurel Bank Parade, Geelong, he entered the College in 1909 where he became known as ‘Fen’. He had previously attended Newton and Flinders State Schools. In his final school year, 1912, he was in the 1st Football XVIII and 1st Rowing VIII.

On leaving school he undertook agricultural training at Dookie Agricultural College. He was a Trooper in 11th Australian Light Horse until 1913 and prior to that, a cadet in Captain Rushall's Mounted Cadets. He enlisted in the AIF on 2 March 1915, serving in the 13th Light Horse (LH) and embarked for Egypt on 28 May 1915 on HMAT A34 Persic. He served as an infantryman on Gallipoli until the Evacuation, then went to France where he was awarded the Military Medal (London Gazette 18 July 1917), for which the citation read: ‘At Niorchies on the morning of 15th April 1917, during the enemy attack on Lagnicourt and Louverval, Trooper Pillow displayed conspicuous gallantry in carrying out his duties as Mounted Dispatch Rider attached to the Signal Service of 3rd Australian Infantry Brigade. He carried important dispatches (sic) under very heavy shell fire to the Battalions in the line, most of the ground over which he had to work being in full view of the enemy.’

H F Pillow (Pegasus Dec 1918).

H F Pillow (Pegasus Dec 1918).

The Geelong Advertiser reported his experiences at the Front in July 1917:
'Tpr. Fen Pillow, writing to his parents, Mr and Mrs H Pillow, of Herne Hill, says he is very 'fit' and is receiving all his parcels. He sent his mother a present of some beautiful table linen from Belfast. He speaks very highly of the way 'the boys' appreciate all the Australian Comfort Funds do for them, not only in providing comforts, but food and entertainments. 'There is plenty of food in England,' he sys, for ordinary persons, though provisions are short. There is great comradeship between the Australian soldiers, and when one of them gets leave to go to 'Blighty' their pals see that they are all rigged out, and lend anything that is needed. Fen Pillow's hat has had two trips to Ireland, and is going for a third'

From 10 April 1917 to 27 April 1917 he continued to carry out signaller duties frequently under very hazardous conditions in a conspicuously gallant and able way. He refused a commission in August 1918. He died on 18 August 1918 at 55th Casualty Clearing Station of wounds sustained at Herleville, aged 25, when he was going out to recover wounded men in No-Man's Land.

This action is graphically described by Sgt Harvey, MM, in the unit history, Red and White Diamond. Cpl George Louis Wilkinson of 13 LH wrote to the Red Cross Information Bureau: ‘ He was in the 24th Battalion when he was killed, having transferred from 13th Light Horse about a month previously. He was stretcher-bearing at the time when he was carrying a wounded man out near Framerville and was sniped in the thigh by a poisonous bullet. I did not see the casualty, but he was taken to CCS at once at Daours, where he died. I cannot remember date of casualty. He was one of my greatest pals and I endeavoured to make special enquiry.’ Lt LG Bristow of 13th LH also spoke highly of him: ‘He had previously been transferred from this Unit to the 24th Battalion and at the time of his casualty I was also in the hospital, wounded. I can tell you of his appearance and personality though. About 25 years, six feet two in the air and weighing close on fourteen stone of hard bony manhood, full of dry humour and one of the finest types Australia has produced. Strong face, fair hair and merry grey eyes that looked straight at you. Christian names Harry in the Regiment, 'Fen' at home. Came from Geelong, Victoria, and was at Dookie Agricultural College before joining up early in 1915.’ ‘Fen’ Pillow was buried at Daours Communal Cemetery Extension, France —Grave V. A. 12.

His brothers, Albert Earnest Pillow (1886-1960) and Roy Nelson Pillow (1894-1918) both attended the School. The Fen and Roy Pillow Bursary was named in memory of the two brothers, 'Fen' and Roy, killed in World War I. A Collection of material about the Pillow Family is held in the School Archives.

Sources: Pillow Collection; Geelong Advertiser 21 July 1917 p5; Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. pp87-88 (citing The University of Melbourne: Record of Active Service of Teachers, Graduates, Undergraduates, Officers, and Servants (1926); Image, Pegasus December 1918; Education Gazette and Teachers’ Aid 15 May 1919 p64.
© The Geelong College. Unless otherwise attributed, The Geelong College asserts its creative and commercial rights over all images and text used in this publication. No images or text material may be copied, reproduced or published without the written authorisation of The College.