WILLIAM CHARLES SHEPPARD ~ Nelson RSA medals – only two more families to find.


Allan Sheppard sitting on his grandfather, William Charles Sheppard’s knee

In acknowledging the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli Landings in 1915, WW1 medals which had for decades lain undisturbed in the care of the Nelson RSA, were offered up for return to any direct descendant families who could prove their lineage and connection to the original medal recipients.   Between June and September 2014 about 50% of the medal groups (approx 12 medals) had been claimed however when no further inquiries were forthcoming for the remainder, I offered my ‘lost medal’ research service in an attempt to reunite the unclaimed medals with surviving kin.

This task proved quite difficult since of the veterans concerned, most had not originated from the Nelson/Tasman area, or had resided there only temporarily after the war and then left – addresses unknown.  Most were also unmarried and therefore had no natural heirs (children).  The majority of these veterans had at one time been members of the Nelson Returned Soldiers Club (predecessor of the present RSA) however for those who had no family, the custody of any medals usually fell to a family sibling, or their ‘Club’.  The spouse of those whom had married would sometimes deposit medals with the Club as a way of ensuring the memory of their loved one was acknowledged in perpetuity.  In the absence of anyone, veteran’s medals were sometimes deposited at RSAs by the public authorities responsible for executing deceased estates (e.g. Public Trust).  This was a far better solution as in some cases the medals would be sold or publicly auctioned to pay outstanding estate costs!

William Charles Sheppard (also Shepherd) was born in Ickleford, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England in October 1864.  William immigrated to New Zealand with his parents in 1882 settling in the Aramaho area of Wanganui.  William married Susan Hallson in Wellington in 1889 and by 1896 was running a butchery in Courtney Place, Wellington.  William and Susan moved to Ngatapa near Gisborne continuing to work as a butcher.  He also spent seven years as a member of the New Zealand Naval Brigade before resigning after being drafted for war service in 1916.  

Allan Sheppard (left) receives Pte. William Sheppard's medal from MRNZ's Brian Ramsay.

Allan Sheppard (left) receives Pte. William Sheppard’s medal from MRNZ’s Brian Ramsay.

12/4549 Private William Charles SHEPPARD was enlisted into the 2nd Battalion of the Auckland Infantry Regiment at 45 years of age, and embarked for England and France on 01 April 1916 with the 11th Reinforcements.  In France he was attached to the Australian Military Police (Traffic Control) and the Personnel Vetting Section.  In October 1916 he was admitted to the 3rd Australian General Hospital in Boulogne exhibiting serious symptoms of Myalgia (Rheumatics).  As a result, Pte Sheppard was evacuated on the Hospital Ship ‘Jan Croydel’ to the NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst, England.  By January 1917, he was Medical Boarded as being “unfit”, returned to New Zealand in March and discharged from the NZEF in June 1917as being “no longer physically fit for war service on account of pre-enlistment disability aggravated by active service”.  Pte Sheppard spent a total of 1 year and 41 days overseas on war service. 

PTE. William Sheppard's medals.

PTE. William Sheppard’s medals.

William returned to his wife, son and daughter in Stoke, Nelson where they had been living with relatives whilst William was overseas.  William continued to undergo treatment in Nelson for his Myalgia whilst he took up work as a butcher again.  Sadly, William’s wife Susan died unexpectedly in 1939 and as a result, William went to live with his son Leonard until he decided to return to England and live with his daughter Hilda.  William Charles Sheppard died at St. Phillips Hospital, London in March 1953, aged 79 years .

The following Obituary appeared in the Wanganui Chronicle in 1953: 

Sheppard, William Charles – “Originally came to NZ 71 years ago and settled with his parents in Wanganui. He was the only son of the late Mary Cooper who lived at upper Aramoho for many years.  As a youth he was apprenticed to the late Edwin Perrett who conducted a butchers shop in Wickstead Place.  Later he worked in Wellington. Served o’seas in WW1 and was invalided home settling in Stoke Valley Nelson. He lived with his son Len Sheppard before he departed for Britain where he took up residence with his daughter Hilda Short near Regents Park London. He enjoyed good health until his departure from NZ.  Mr Sheppard is survived by one son and daughter. His wife predeceased him by 14 years. There are 5 grand children and 16 great grand children.” 

For his war service, 19/4549 Pte. William Charles Sheppard was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal. 

william sheppard #2 (640x480)  William Sheppard (640x480)