Poppy In memoriam Poppy

Company Quartermaster Sergeant John Henry Shaw



John Henry Shaw was born on 1 August 1889 at Mounthill, Raloo, near Larne, County Antrim, the second of twelve children of grocer (later also farmer and auctioneer) John Shaw and his wife Mary (née Campbell). At the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Ballyrickard Beg, Raloo, with his parents and six of his nine surviving siblings, and working as a grocer's assistant.

Shaw enlisted in the North Irish Horse in 1908 or 1909 (regimental number unknown), serving with A (Belfast) Squadron. On completion of his four years with the regiment he elected not to rejoin, and in July 1913 emigrated to Canada.

On 16 February 1916 at Edmonton he enlisted in the Canadian infantry (No.904005). He gave his address as 11927-93 Street, Edmonton, and his occupation as clerk. Posted to the 194th Battalion, he was immediately appointed to the rank of acting Company Quartermaster Sergeant, probably due to his previous military experience.

Shaw sailed for England with his regiment on 14 November 1916. On 25 January 1917 at Bramshott he transferred to the 9th (Reserve) Battalion. Later that year, seeking an opportunity for front-line service, he agreed to revert to the rank of private, embarking for France on 4 October. There he was posted to the 49th Battalion (Alberta Regiment), Canadian Infantry. Joining the unit in the field on 13 October, he was posted to B Company.

Just seventeen days later, on 30 October, the 49th Battalion took part in an attack during the last days of the Passchendaele offensive. According to its war diary:

Battalion attacked the German front & support lines at 5.40 A.M., the following being the disposition, 'B' & 'C' Companies forming the First Wave from Right to Left, supported by 'D' & 'A' Companies in two lines of sections at 30 paces distance. Morning very clear & bright, heavy opposition met with, causing very heavy casualties, the intermediate objective was gained & held in spite the most trying conditions from enemy machine guns & shell fire.

The Battalion's casualties from 28 to 31 October were 16 officers killed or wounded, 118 other ranks killed, 280 wounded and 29 missing. Shaw was among the missing and was later presumed to have died on 30 October. Having no known grave, he is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlanderen, Belgium, Bay 30, Stone D.



Image kindly provided by Steve Rogers, Project Co-ordinator of the The War Graves Photographic Project, www.twgpp.org.