SHIRES, Harold Nelson
(Service number 2/2537)
|First Rank||Gunner||Last Rank||Gunner|
|Date||28 February 1894||Place of Birth||Geraldine, New Zealand|
|Date||25 August 1915||Age||21|
|Address at Enlistment||Care Union Bank Timaru|
|Previous Military Experience||6th Mounted Field Ambulance|
|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.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||8th Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||NZ Field Artillery|
|Date||13 November 1915|
|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|
|Campaigns||Egypt & Western European|
|Service Medals||1914-1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
|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.
Bank Clerk, Farmer, Salesman, Farm Appraiser and Valuer
|Date||27 July 1969||Age||75|
|Place of Death||Wanganui, New Zealand|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Karori, Wellington|
|Memorial Reference||Area 10, Block B, Row 9, Plot 4|
|New Zealand Memorials|
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.
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)
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Researched and Written by
Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
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