Profile

SHIRES, Harold Nelson
(Service number 2/2537)

Aliases Born Shiers
First Rank Gunner Last Rank Gunner

Birth

Date 28 February 1894 Place of Birth Geraldine, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 25 August 1915 Age 21
Address at Enlistment Care Union Bank Timaru
Occupation Bank Clerk
Previous Military Experience 6th Mounted Field Ambulance
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mr William Shiers, (father), "Burdale" Geraldine
Religion Church of England
Medical Information 5 foot 11 1/2 inches tall, weight 149 pounds (68 kgs), chest 33-36 1/2 inches, fair complexion, grey eyes, fair hair, good teeth.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 8th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship NZ Field Artillery
Date 13 November 1915
Transport HMNZT35 Willochra
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With 13th Battery NZ Field Artillery, Divisional Ammunition Column
Last Unit Served With 6th Battery NZ Field Artillery

Military Awards

Campaigns Egypt & Western European
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date

Discharge

Date 14 June 1918 Reason No longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

26 Feb to 13 Aug 1917 - sick in various hospitals France. 29 Jan 1918 - gun shot wound to right hand - admitted to Casualty Clearing Station (CCS); transferred to hospital at Etaples; 2 Feb transferred to UK via Hospital Ship 'Brighton'; admitted to Military Hospital at Bethnal Green; 21 Feb transferred to No.1 NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst.

Post-war Occupations

Bank Clerk, Farmer, Salesman, Farm Appraiser and Valuer

Death

Date 27 July 1969 Age 75
Place of Death Wanganui, New Zealand
Cause
Notices
Memorial or Cemetery Karori, Wellington
Memorial Reference Area 10, Block B, Row 9, Plot 4
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Harold was born at Geraldine on February 28, 1894, the youngest of twelve children, of William (1834-1918) and Kate (1850-1916 nee O’Shanessy) Shiers. Harold’s father was born in Yorkshire, England, and went out to Victoria, Australia, in 1853, where he was employed on the construction of railways and visited the various goldfields in Victoria. In 1861 he left for New Zealand where he was attracted to the “rush” at Gabriel’s Gully, but soon took up work on laying rails in the Lyttelton tunnel for a short time before crossing over to the West Coast prospecting for gold for the Provincial Government. More work for the government followed in Canterbury on roading, rail and harbour tasks before he took up employment as overseer and clerk with the Geraldine Road Board.

Harold was educated privately and at the Geraldine and Temuka High Schools, after which he joined the staff of the Union Bank of Australia in Timaru. Prior to enlisting at Timaru on August 25, 1915, he had been a member of the 6th Mounted Field Ambulance and was posted to the NZ Field Artillery. His father William of “Burdale,” Geraldine was nominated as his next of kin. Harold was described as being single, Anglican, 5 foot 11 ½ inches tall, weighing 149 pounds (68 kgs), with a chest measuring 33–36 ½ inches, and having a fair complexion, grey eyes, fair hair, and good teeth. After initial training at Featherston Camp, Gunner Shires left from Wellington with the 8th Reinforcements and 2nd Reinforcements Infantry NZ Rifle Brigade, on November 13, 1915, aboard (HMNZT35) Willochra. The ship was travelling in convoy with (HMNZT36) Tofua, making a combined total of 2,585 troops, arriving at Suez, Egypt on December 18.

Further training followed at Moascar where, on March 3, 1916, he was posted to the 13th Battery and promoted on March 25 to acting Bombardier. On April 7 he embarked from Alexandria for France. A transfer to the Divisional Ammunition Column in the field took place on July 6, before being again transferred to the 2nd Brigade on August 26. On February 26 1917, he relinquished the appointment of acting Bombardier and, until August 13 1917, spent time sick in various hospitals before re-joining the 6th Battery in the field.

In January 1918, Harold’s unit was in the Ypres Salient where, on the 29th, he received a gunshot wound to his left hand. Gunner Shires was admitted to the Casualty Clearance Station (CCS) in the field before transfer to hospital at Etaples. He was then transferred on the Hospital Ship Brighton to England on February 2, and admitted to the military hospital at Bethnal Green, where he had 3 fingers amputated. On February 21, he was transferred to No1 NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst where further surgery on his hand took place. After a medical board on March 14, he was found unfit for further service and placed on the NZ Roll. He boarded the SS Marama at Avonmouth on April 6, arriving in Auckland on 17 May 1918. His father William had received advice that his son Bombardier Harold Nelson Shires, Howitzer Battery, NZFA, was returning to NZ after receiving gun-shot wound to his right hand (Press April 5, 1918).

After having served a total of 2 years and 294 days, Harold was discharged from the army on June 14, 1918, as no longer physically fit for war service on account of wounds received in action and awarded a pension of fifteen shillings ($1.50). He later received the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medals for his service.

In 1919 Harold was living at 169 Princes Street, Dunedin, employed as a bank clerk. The Otago Daily Times of April 30, 1921, reported that on April 5, at First Church by Rev Graham Balfour, Harold Nelson Shires of “Oruru” Kaitieke, married Dorothea Ewing, elder daughter of Doctor R Stuart Stephenson of Dunedin. Dorothea was born on February 28, 1897, daughter of Ralph Stuart (1867-1924) and Annie Forsyth (1870-1933 nee Ewing) Stephenson.

In 1928 Harold was farming at Kaitieke, but by 1935 was at 13 Wesley Road, Wellington, occupied as a salesman. Dorothea had unfortunately died on June 30, 1934. Moving on again Harold was at 49 College Street, Wanganui, in 1938 working as a farm appraiser. From 1949, until his death aged 75 on July 27, 1969, Harold then resided at 25 Great North Road, Wanganui, where he continued to work as a farm valuer.

Harold is buried with his wife Dorothea in the Karori Cemetery, Wellington. Two of his brothers also served during World War 1: 2/1093 Corporal Samuel Nelson Shires who served with the NZ Field Artillery at Gallipoli; and 78255 Rifleman Francis William Shires served in England with the NZ Rifle Brigade.

Sources

Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [January 2018]; New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at http://nzef.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=232333; Assorted records at Ancestry.com [January 2018]; Timaru District Council cemetery records at https://www.timaru.govt.nz/services/community-and-culture/cemeteries/cemetery-search; "The fallen and wonded: personal notes" in the Press 5 April 1918 p7, "Marriages" in the Otago Daily Times 30 April 1921 p8, and "Deaths" (Dorothea Shires) in the Evening Post 30 June 1934 p1, courtesy of Papers Past at https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/; Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], 1903 at http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-Cyc03Cycl-t1-body1-d6-d90-d2.html; Obituary of William Shires at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~NZLSCANT/OBITS.HTM (January 2018)

External Links

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Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

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