Shepherd – Rifleman Albert Edward

11 January 1897 – 23 October 1966:-

Albert was born in Royston, Yorkshire and, like his father before him, worked down the mines at New Monckton Colliery, where he was a pony driver. He was a keen amateur boxer and runner. He enlisted in the 12th Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps at the age of 17 on the day war broke out.

He saw action on The Somme, as well as in Passchendaele, and sustained a serious injury to his arm and was gassed on two separate occasions.

On the 20th November 1917 at Villers Plouich, when his company was held up by a machine gun at point-blank range, Private Shepherd volunteered to rush the gun and although ordered not to, ran forward and threw a Mills bomb killing two gunners and capturing the gun. The company, continuing its advance, came under heavy fire again, this time firing across the line of advance. When the last officer and NCO had become casualties, Private Shepherd took command of the company, ordered the men to lie down. He then went back some 70 yards to get the help of a tank which was used to give cover to their advance.

Despite asking for his return home to be kept quiet, he was met at the railway station by a large crowd of well-wishers. The village was decorated with flags and bunting and he was given a civic reception, as well as being carried the four miles from Royston to Barnsley by his fellow miners. In early 1920 he heard that he had been awarded the French Médaille Militaire, followed a few months later, in January 1921, with the news that he had also been awarded the Croix de Guerre.

Following his discharge, he returned to work in the colliery as a caretaker and retired in 1945. Upon his death, he was given a full military funeral. His medals are held at The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum, Winchester, having been donated by his widow in 1968.

Filed under: WW1