Ashville Cenotaph: SHEPHERD N
Ashville Memorial Hall: Norman Shepherd, Duke of Westminster’s Regiment
Norman served in the 2nd/16th Battalion of the London Regiment. The 1st/16th Battalion of the London Regiment started out life as the Royal Westminster Volunteers in 1787 and in 1908 became incorporated into the newly established London Regiment when they were known as the 16th (Queens Own Westminster Rifles) Battalion London Regiment. The 2nd/16th Battalion was created on 1st September 1914 and was similarly titled. During the Great War most battalions with the suffix 2nd were “reserve” battalions and never left the UK, having been created for training purposes to supply reinforcements to the front line battalions and also to act as a home defence force. This was not the case for the 2nd/16th (Queens Own Westminster Rifles) London Regiment who saw active service in three theatres of war – initially the Western Front and then Salonika & Palestine before finally returning to the Western Front.
Norman was born on 12th September 1891 in Harrogate. His parents were Joseph Shepherd & Hannah Annakin. Hannah was one of the daughters of Robert Annakin, a Primitive Methodist lay preacher and sister of the Rev George Annakin. She was also one of the elder sisters (Robert had 14 children) of Isabella Annakin, the mother of Clement Chippindale making Norman and Clement first cousins. Joseph Shepherd ran a roofing business, describing himself as a “slater and slate merchant” on the 1901 & 1911 census returns. He was also a Harrogate town councillor and was mayor in 1919/20. The family were members of the Dragon Parade Primitive Methodist Church and at the time of the 1901 & 1911 censuses lived in nearby Dragon Avenue.
Norman entered Elmfield College at the start of the 1902 autumn term when he was just aged 11. He left at the end of 1907 when he would have been aged 16. After leaving Elmfield he became a Civil Servant in London. The London Gazette of 2nd December 1913 reported Norman had been assigned to the Colonial Office as a “Second Division Clerk”.
None of Norman’s official war records seem to have survived but he did get a write up in volume 4 of De Rugivny’s biographical records of those who fell in the Great War. The following is a slightly edited extract:
“Norman joined the Queen’s Westminster Rifles in May 1915; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from June to November 1916, when he proceeded to Salonika, and subsequently took part in the Palestine Campaign; entered Jerusalem; was recommended for a commission, and was killed in action at Achior, 2nd January 1918, while helping a wounded comrade. Buried at Bishop Globat’s Protestant Cemetery, Jerusalem. He was made a Sergeant on the field at Salonika, and received special mention for conspicuous gallantry.”
At the start of the Great War Palestine was part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire and so, at the time of his death, Norman and his comrades would have been fighting Turkish troops. Other reports show the 60th Division, of which the 2nd/16th Battalion were part, entered Jerusalem on 9th December 1917 and then held a line to the north of the city. On the 27th December they successfully repelled a determined counter-offensive by the Turks. Subsequently the Turks were forced to retreat 7 miles where the 60th Division held a new line at Bireh until mid-February 1918. Two other sources (Forces War Records and see below) state Norman “died of wounds” received in action. So probably he was wounded on 27th December 1917 or the days immediately afterwards and subsequently died on 2nd January 1918.
I can find no reference to Achior as a place or Bishop Globat and his cemetery. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission state he is buried in the Jerusalem War Cemetery, 4.5 kilometres north of the walled city and situated on the neck of land at the north end of the Mount of Olives, to the west of Mount Scopus. The Cemetery contains 2,437 Great War burials of which 2,186 were from the United Kingdom, 144 from Australia, 51 from South Africa, 34 from New Zealand, 16 from Germany, 4 from Italy and 2 from India.
The Harrogate Herald of 21st April 1920 contained the following article (again with some slight editing):
“A solemn yet inspiring service was held at the Dragon Parade Primitive Methodist Church on Friday evening, when a brass memorial tablet was unveiled by the Rev T Gladwyn, of Reading, which had been erected in memory of Sergeant Norman Shepherd, youngest son of Alderman and Mrs Shepherd, by his brothers and sisters. Before the Great War Sergeant Shepherd was in the Colonial Office, London, and during that time was a regular attender at the Harringay Primitive Methodist Church.
The service commenced with the singing of the hymn “He liveth long who liveth well”, followed with prayer by the Rev E McLellan, who added some commendable remarks on the young soldier’s consistent and cheerful life. The Rev T Gladwyn then unveiled the tablet, which is fixed in the centre of the church on the right-hand wall, and read the inscription:
‘To the glory of God and in proud and loving memory of Sergeant Norman (Norrie) Shepherd, youngest son of Alderman J and Mrs Shepherd of this town, 2/16 London Regiment, Queen’s Westminster Rifles, who died January 2nd, 1918, of wounds received in action before Jerusalem. Interred in the Jerusalem Military Cemetery. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.’
Returning to the pulpit the Reverend gentleman paid high tribute to the sterling qualities of the deceased. When they heard what had happened to Norman Shepherd he said they were all shocked and their sympathy went out to the bereaved. Referring to the memorial, he said he felt it was a beautiful record in a beautiful place of a beautiful life. When he came to London he went to his (the speaker’s) church, and his behaviour was such that it was distinct and an asset to the congregation. He spoke of his loyalty and cheerfulness and urged them to let Norman Shepherd’s life be theirs and endeavour to display that same spirit and same deportment that they might have the triumphant life which always lived and ended in translation and not death.
Mr Arthur Annakin then sang impressively the solo ‘Be thou faithful unto death’.
The Rev E J T Bagenal, of York, referred to the deceased’s happy home life, and said he was one of the most active and earnest workers in connection with Harringay Church, and displayed the same standard of conduct when he joined the army. They were not surprised when his Major wrote and said that he was a man that could always be relied upon. His death, he said, was a distinct call to them to consecrate themselves afresh. He trusted his beautiful life would have such an influence on their lives and the church, that they would be ready to dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ. Their sympathy went out to the father and mother and family.
The service concluded with the hymn, ‘Peace, perfect peace’.
Mr J H Marlow presided at the organ. The tablet is the work of Mr Jesper, of Prospect Crescent.”
Norman or Norrie as he was obviously commonly known had four elder siblings – Hezekiah (b 1883), Joseph (b 1885), Mabel (b 1887) & Agnes (b 1899). Hezekiah & Joseph both saw action in the Great War and survived. I presume Arthur Annakin was a relation on his mother’s side.
Norman was commemorated for a second time in the Dragon Parade Church as an article in Harrogate Herald of 30th November 1921 shows:
“Memorial tablet in porch of the Dragon Parade Church
The tablet, which is surrounded with an artistic raised border, bears an oval wreath in relief, and the names of the fallen in raised letters in the centre as follows : ‘In honoured memory of the men of this church who fought and died in the Great War. A Bradley, H Bennison, B Bousedale, R Houseman, E [Could be K or H] Hardcastle, A Hood, W A Long, W Macintosh, M Maude, E Middleton, R Preston, N Shepherd, G Topham, W H Weighill, R Wegg. On to the City of God’ “.
The Dragon Parade Church has subsequently been demolished – hopefully the memorial tablets were transferred to another Methodist Church in Harrogate.
Norman is still commemorated on the Harrogate Town War Memorial.
I am again indebted to Tony Cheal and his “Harrogate People & Places” website for the newspaper articles.