Profile

SHIRES, Samuel Nelson
(Service number 2/1093)

Aliases Born Shiers
First Rank Gunner Last Rank Corporal

Birth

Date 3 December 1879 Place of Birth Timaru, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 20 October 1914 Age 34
Address at Enlistment Panitu Station, Whananaki
Occupation Shepherd
Previous Military Experience Royal Australian (NSW) Artillery Regiment (deserted in 1900)
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mr Harold Nelson Shires (brother) Union Bank, Timaru, New Zealand
Religion Church of England
Medical Information 6 foot 1 inches tall, weight 178 pounds (81 kgs), chest 38-40 inches, fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, bad teeth.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 2nd Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship NZ Field Artillery
Date 14 December 1914
Transport HMNZT15 Knight of the Garter
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Howitzer 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 1 April 1916 Reason Medically unfit

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

12-18 Jan 1915 - aboard ship - influenza. 16 Jun 1915 - admitted to 1 Australian Stationary Hospital at Mudros with shingles; 27 Jun transferred to Hospital Ship 'Dunluce Castle' and admitted on 3 Jul 21 to General Hospital in Alexandria with typhoid.

Post-war Occupations

Shepherd & Farmer

Death

Date 5 November 1950 Age 70
Place of Death Wanganui, New Zealand
Cause
Notices
Memorial or Cemetery Aramoho Cemetery, Wanganui (Ashes)
Memorial Reference Rose Garden A, Row 2, 10255
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Samuel, second son of William (1834-1918) and Kate (1850-1916 nee O’Shanessy) Shiers, was born at Timaru on December 3, 1879. His 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.

Samuel’s education record is not known, but was possibly privately educated and attended Geraldine and Temuka High Schools like his siblings. When he was 20 years old, the New South Wales (Australia) Police Gazette reported that 2989 Gunner Samuel Nelson Shires, born in Canterbury, New Zealand, had deserted after less than one years’ service, from the NSW Artillery Regiment. In 1904 he applied to join the New Zealand Permanent Force Artillery, stating he had served in the Royal Australian Artillery at Sydney but this application does not appear to have been successful. By 1905/1906 he was back in Geraldine working as a stockman, and then in 1911 was found at Tahunaroa, Whatatutu, in the Gisborne district, employed as a shepherd.

When Samuel enlisted at Gisborne on October 20, 1914, he was working as a shepherd for Mr Humphrey Bailey at Panitu Station, Whananaki, and nominated his youngest brother Harold, who was working at the Union Bank, Timaru, as his next of kin. Samuel was described as being aged 34, 6 foot 1 inch in height, single, Anglican, with a chest measuring 38-40 inches, weighing 178 pounds (81 kgs), of fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, and had bad teeth. Within a week of entering Featherston Camp on October 26, he was promoted to Bombardier (Corporal) and posted to the Howitzer Battery. On December 14, 1914, he left from Wellington aboard HMNZT15 Knight of the Garter with the 2nd Reinforcements NZ Field Artillery. The ship travelled in conjunction with HMNZT13 Verdala and HMNZT14 Willochra. They steamed to Western Australia, where on December 28, they assembled with the fleet of the Second Convoy, leaving for Suez, Egypt, on December 31, arriving at Alexandria on January 28, 1915. During the passage Samuel was admitted from 12 to 18 January to the sick bay with influenza.

On disembarking February 2, Samuel’s unit went into camp at Zeitoun, which was about 6 miles from Cairo. From here they carried out further battery training, including manoeuvres and live firing excises, before embarking for the Dardanelles from Alexandria on April 12, 1915. The 4.5 inch howitzer battery landed shortly after the landings on April 25, and was soon in action. Although not as destructive as the 18 pounder guns, their range (6300 metres) and ability to fire at a higher angle, was invaluable in the hilly terrain of Anzac. After some weeks in action Samuel was taken sick in the trenches at Gaba Tepe, and was evacuated and admitted to the 1st Australian Stationary Hospital on Mudros on June 16, diagnosed with shingles. On June 27, he was put aboard the Hospital Ship Dunluce Castle and transferred to the 21st General Hospital at Alexandria where he was admitted on July 3, with typhoid. After treatment he was found unfit for further service and, on September 25 1915, boarded the SS Tofua at Port Said for his return to New Zealand. Arriving at Dunedin on October 26, he was granted two months sick leave which he spent at his home in Geraldine.

In March 1916, Samuel was again medically boarded and passed fit for active service but this was short lived as he was found to have a weakened heart. He was finally discharged from the army on April 1 1916. Having served a total of 1 year and 160 days, Samuel was later awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

Samuel returned to the Wharerata area where he was employed as a shepherd and in November 1916, under the Discharged Soldiers Settlement Act, was granted a section of 508 acres at Retaruke in the Kaitieke County. In 1930, he married Gwenneth Mabel Rudman (1904-1951), daughter of Robert Edgar (1872-1931) and Mabel Hayward (1877-1955 nee Salmon) Rudman. Her father Robert (Victoria College Wellington, MA, BA, MSc, and Headmaster) was regarded as one of the leaders of the teaching profession in New Zealand.

Samuel and Gwenneth continued to farm at Kaitieke until he died at Wanganui on November 5, 1950, aged 70 years. Samuel’s ashes are interred in the Aramoho, Wanganui Cemetery. In 1951 Gwenneth remarried to William Morris Fenton.

Two of Samuel’s brothers also served during World War 1: 2/2537 Gunner Harold Nelson Shires, NZ Field Artillery served in Egypt and Western Europe; 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=232335; "Personal" Column in the Temuka Leader 6 April 1918 p2, "More wounded men" in the Taranaki Herald 21 October 1915 p4, "The Tofua" in the Otago Daily Times 28 October 1915 p2, "Engagements" in the New Zealand Herald 11 September 1929 p17, and "Land Board" [land grants] in the Dominion 29 November 1916 p5, courtesy of Papers Past at https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/; 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; 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

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