In May 2016 I received an e-mail from a reader of this site who kindly sent me an image of a gravestone that was in Darnall Cemetery Sheffield

SHEPHERD. Darnall Cemetery.
Also of 2nd LIEUT. JOHN ARNOLD SHEPHERD, R.A.F. youngest son of the above who after the loss of his right foot in France, was accidentally killed whilst flying at Dover July 28th 1918, aged 23 years, and was interred in Burngreave Cemetery.

Photo courtesy of Sheffield Soldiers of the Great War

SHEPHERD. Burngreave Cemy.
To the memory of 2nd LIEUT JOHN ARNOLD SHEPHERD, beloved son of JAMES A. & JESSIE SHEPHERD, who after the loss of his right foot in France joined the R.A.F. was accidentally killed whilst flying from Dover July 28th 1918, aged 23 years. ĎAt restí.

The Sheffield Indexers have a burial record for John

SHEPHERD, John Arnold (Lieutenant Royal Flying Corps, age 28).
Died at Swingate Downs; Buried on August 2, 1918 in General ground; Grave Number 298, Section KK of Burngreave Cemetery, Sheffield.
Parent or Next of Kin if Available: . Remarks: Flying accident:Attending Minister, W R Turner: Removed from Guston, Near Dover Parish.
Plot Owner: James Armstrong SHEPHERD of 27 Goddard Hall Rd.

Swingate Downs was a WW1 airfield that was operational through out the Great War and Guston near Dover (Kent) was a nearby village. The inference from the both the memorial and the burial record is that John had an accident whilst taking off or landing at the airfield. - 

"2Lt John Arnold Shepherd (spelt as 'Sheperd' in Airmen Died) of No 53 Training Squadron RAF was killed in an accident while flying Avro 504K D8832 on 28 July 1918."

An Avro 504K the plane John was flying on 28th July 1918 - photo courtesy of Andrew Fogg (Shuttleworth Collection) 

I then accessed John's medal card and service record

Medal Card
First name(s) John Arnold Last name Shepherd
Service number 19163 
Rank Private, Second Lieutenant
Corps Suffolk Regiment, General List, Royal Flying Corps
Service record Soldier Number: 19163, Rank: Private, Corps: Suffolk Regiment
Service record 2 Soldier Number: 19163, Rank: Private, Corps: General List
Service record 3 Rank: Second Lieutenant, Corps: Royal Flying Corps
Archive reference WO372/18 - Archive reference description Campaign Medal Index Cards and Silver War Badge Cards

John joined up at Scarborough on 1st September 1914 and was posted as a a Private to the 13th Reserve Cavalry Regiment  - the Hussars of the Line.  But on 5rd June 1915 he was transferred to the Third Battalion of The Suffolk Regiment. In the 309 days John was in the Hussars he never left England. But within a month of being transferred to the Suffolks he was posted to France(6th July 1915). He lasted three months before he was wounded on 3rd October 1915 at Brandhock France. This was part of the now infamous Battle of Loos where the British Army suffered many thousands of casualties for no gain - a familiar story that would be repeated in the years to come.   

The B 103 states that John that John suffered a gun shot wound to the right foot and leg that necessitated an amputation of the limb. He was then shipped back to England via Dieppe. He spent the next year convalescing but over a year later on 30th November 1916 he was discharged from the Army on the grounds that he was no longer physically fit for military service. But the discharge did not stop John from enlisting with the Royal Flying Corps on 11th September 1917 where he was given a temporary commission as a Second Lieutenant


But at least John was buried back in his home town of Sheffield. This is from the Yorkshire Telegraph and Star dated Wednesday 31st July 1918 that announces Johns tragic death and interment on Friday 2nd August 1918 


1911 Census


CWGC Website

Sheffield Indexers

Sheffield Soldiers of the Great War

RAF Museum

Battle of Loos Wikipedia


Yorkshire Telegraph and Star dated Wednesday 31st July 1918

This page was last updated on 18/11/16 17:50

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