The AIF Project

William Henry SHIERS

Regimental number3907
Place of birthNorwood, South Australia
SchoolNorwood and Cowandilla Public Schools, South Australia
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationLabourer
AddressHilton PO, Hilton, South Australia
Marital statusMarried
Age at embarkation30
Next of kinWife, Mrs H M Shiers, Hilton PO,
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date11 August 1915
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name10th Battalion, 12th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/27/3
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on board RMS Malwa on 2 December 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll10th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 23-25 July 1916
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
60
Family/military connectionsBrothers:1739 Pte Alfred Ernest SHIERS, 50th Bn, returned to Australia, 19 December 1919; 6587 Pte Arthur Robert SHIERS, 10th Bn, returned to Australia, 16 June 1919; 3906 Pte Richard Dick SHIERS, 10th Bn, returned to Australia, 11 May 1919; [27] Lt Walter Henry SHIERS AFM, Australian Flying Corps, returned to Australia, 30 October 1919.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked from Adelaide, 2 December 1915. Admitted to 4th Auxiliary Hospital, Cairo, 17 January 1916 (mumps); discharged, 19 January 1916.

Proceeded from Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 29 March 1916; disembarked Marseilles, 4 April 1916.

Reported wounded in action, 29 July 1916; then reported wounded and missing in action; Court of Inquiry, 19 June 1917, determined fate as 'killed in action'.

Wife, Mrs Shiers, wrote to Base Records, 24 January 1917: '...In your letter of 18 December 1916 you reported that the Commanding Officer could not confirm that my husband had been killed in action. I have since heard from the Adelaide Red Cross that they received a statement from Pte O'Connell - he saw my husband lying dead at Pozieres on 25th July 1916 covered with a waterproof sheet. I hope you will kindly do your best to find the real facts of the case, the suspense is worse than the truth.'

3906 R.D. SHIERS wrote to Mrs Shiers, 2 August 1916: 'Dear Hilda, I hope this letter finds you in the Best of Health as it leaves me at present. Well Hilda you must exuse this short letter from me this time as I Relacy Dont no what to put in it. Well Hilda I am more than sorrey for you and the children. But Hilda Dont let it worrey you old girl it was for the Best. Cheer up and look on the Brighter side of things. I hope that you and your children wont be in the want for anythink. I hope they will Respect a widow and children. Hilda Dont take things to Hart. Hilda I have wroght to all telling them to pay you a visit more than what they were doing. I dont no of any more to speak about. I do but we are not allowed to put it in. I am going to tell you Hilda that Brother Bill got killed strate out he never lingered and was Buerried Respectable so Dont take things to heart of me telling you this. I am truly your Brother in law, Dick.'

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

'In Memoriam' column, local newspaper, 1917: 'Sunshine passes, shadows fall,/ But love's sweet remembrance outlasts all./ He was a hero, noble and true,/ And wore the colours, purple-blue./His duty nobly done.' Inserted by his loving wife and four little children [Millicent, Leslie, Phyllis, Lawrence

. Second entry reads: 'Our thoughts they often wander/ To the grave so far away, /Where they laid our darling brother/ Just one year ago to-day. /Inserted by his loving father and four brothers on active service abroad; also sister and brother-in-law, E. and J. Hocking.'

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