George Joseph SHEPPERD MM

Poppy

SHEPPERD, George Joseph

Service Number: 589
Enlisted: 18 March 1915, Roma, Queensland
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: 26th Infantry Battalion
Born: Drayton, Queensland, Australia, 28 December 1892
Home Town: Drayton, Toowoomba, Queensland
Schooling: Toowoomba Grammar School
Occupation: School teacher
Died: Killed in Action, France, 3 July 1918, aged 25 years
Cemetery: Adelaide Cemetery Villers-Bretonneux
Adelaide Cemetery, Villers-Bretonneux (Plot I, Row B, Grave No. 14), France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Toowoomba Grammar School WW1 Bravery Deeds, Toowoomba Grammar School WW1 Honour Board, Toowoomba Grammar School WW1 In Memoriam Honour Board, Toowoomba Roll of Honour WW1, Toowoomba War Memorial (Mothers' Memorial)
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World War 1 Service

18 Mar 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 589, 26th Infantry Battalion, Roma, Queensland
24 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 589, 26th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
24 May 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 589, 26th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Brisbane
21 Nov 1915: Wounded Private, SN 589, 26th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli, GSW (left eye)
2 Mar 1917: Wounded Sergeant, SN 589, 26th Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages, 2nd occasion - GSW (right arm)
4 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 589, 26th Infantry Battalion, Broodseinde Ridge
1 Jun 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 26th Infantry Battalion
3 Jul 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 26th Infantry Battalion, "Peaceful Penetration - Low-Cost, High-Gain Tactics on the Western Front"

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Biography

George Joseph SHEPPERD was born on 28th December, 1892 in Drayton, Queensland

His parents were Samuel George SHEPPERD and Annie Mary McCLEVERTY

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"...2nd Lieutenant George Joseph Shepperd, MM, 26th Battalion, AIF, of Mount Clarendon Drayton, Qld. 2nd Lt Shepperd enlisted as 589 Private Shepperd on 18 March 1915 and embarked from Brisbane aboard HMAT Ascanius on 24 May 1916. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and awarded the Military Medal on 14 October 1917 for his part in the attack on Broodseinde Ridge, and heading the first party to reach the final objective despite being severely shaken and dazed by a shell explosion. He was killed in action on 3 July 1918, in France, aged 25." - SOURCE (www.awm.gov.au)

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout
 
Second Lieutenant George Joseph Shepperd
26th Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company, 7th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division. 

In the peaceful fields of the Somme on which the cross of sacrifice stands among the poppies, rest in peace, for eternity, a whole young generation of men who here, in the trenches and no man's land, served, fought and fell side by side for their country, for France for which they did and gave so much and who, for justice, for peace and freedom, gave their youth and their lives so that we could live.Gone but not and never forgotten, they stand today in silence but proud and tall behind the countless rows of their white graves between which roses and poppies grow and which remind us every day of what so many of these men did and sacrificed for us who will always watch over them with the greatest care, with love, compassion, respect and gratitude to keep the memory and the stories of these heroes alive so that they are never forgotten.

Today, it is with the highest respect and gratitude, that I would like to honor honor the memory of one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme who gave his life, his everything for our tomorrow.I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Second Lieutenant George Joseph Shepperd who fought in the 26th Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company, 7th Brigade, 2nd Australian Division, and who was killed in action 103 years ago, on July 3, 1918 at the age of 25 on the Somme front.

George Joseph Shepperd was born on December 28, 1892 in Drayton, Queensland, and was the son of Samuel George and Annie Mary Shepperd, had one brother and five sisters and lived in Dawn, South Street, Toowoomba, Queensland.George was educated at Toowoomba Grammar School and before the outbreak of the war, worked in Toowoomba and Roma as a school teacher.

George enlisted on March 18, 1915 in Roma, Queensland, as a Private in the 26th Australian Infantry Battalion, A Company, and received a two month training period at Enoggera, Queensland.
The 26th Australian Infantry Battalion and George embarked in Brisbane on May 24,1915 aboard the A11 Ascanius. After further training in Egypt the battalion landed at Gallipoli on September 4,it had arrived after the big offensive of August and took over garrisoning the front lines until the evacuation.On November 20, George was wounded by a bomb (grenade) with wounds to the face, including eye damage. His wounds were described as severe,he was evacuated to Mudros Island,Greece, and subsequently transferred to a hospital in Egypt. He made a remarkable recovery, with no apparent loss of sight. In March 1916 he was fit enough to join the battalion for its move to France and the Western Front.
In France, George suffered a series of infections that kept him away from the front for several months. This was a blessing in disguise as he missed the terrible trials of the battles at Pozieres in July and August. In mid-November George rejoined the battalion and was made Temporary Corporal. He endured the harsh winter and became a Temporary Sergeant in February 1917. About a week after this second promotion he was wounded "second occasion, gun shell wound right arm".This injury was severe enough to be a "Blighty" but it was classed as "mild" and gave him a furlough in England following his treatment at Reading Hospital.

By mid-1917 George was not surprisingly identified as a brave soldier with future leadership capacity. Before he returned to France after his furlough he was sent to the 2nd Army Central School for a five-week course. He rejoined his unit on September 17,just in time for the Battle of Passchendaele.On October 4, George was awarded the M.M. (Military Medal) for his actions described in this citation:

"589 Sergeant Shepperd for gallantry and devotion to duty during the attack at Broodseinde Ridge on 4/10/17. Early in the attack this NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) was severely shaken and dazed by the explosion of a High Explosive shell but pulling himself together with a great effort, continued to attack with determination, and headed the first party to reach the final objective. The spirit he displayed had a very fine effect on his men, and certainly assisted greatly in making the attack a success."

George was one of six men in his battalion awarded the Military Medal for that day’s major attack. Following his efforts in the "Broodseinde stunt", George was selected for officer training. The selection form filled in by his superiors described him as "a very steady man", twice wounded and away from home for nearly three years. George travelled to Cambridge to join the No. 2 Officer Cadet Battalion. He graduated in May 1918. As a Second Lieutenant he was posted to General Infantry Reinforcements, whereupon, perhaps not by accident, a vacancy was found for him back at the 26th Australian Infantry Battalion. George rejoined the battalion, for the sixth time, on June 16, 1918.

The frightening reality for George was that he was now in one of the most dangerous jobs in the army ,a junior infantry officer. The writer Robert Graves, a British lieutenant in 1916, wrote that the life expectancy of an infantry lieutenant on the Western Front was six weeks. George led a patrol into No Man’s Land near Villers-Bretonneux on the night of 2/3 July. The battalion diary records that he was hit by "chance machine gun fire" and killed. There were no other fatalities and his men brought his body back with them. He had been a junior officer at the front for 17 days and was 25 years old when he died.
Today,Second Lieutenant George Joseph Shepperd rests in peace with his men, comrades and brothers in arms at Adelaide Cemetery, Villers-Bretonneux, Somme, and his grave bears the following inscription "With all the company of heaven".
George, in the prime of your life you answered the call of duty and joined the ranks of a whole generation of courageous men who enlisted with honor under the flag of Australia and who, together, marched with determination and conviction in the north of France, in the Somme, where they fought and served with pride and were many never to return home and for all that you have done for us, for Australia, for France and for humanity, for all that you gave, I would like, from the bottom of my heart to say thank you and express to you my gratitude that we will always have for you and your country with which we are united in the strongest and the most exceptional of the friendships that were born over a hundred years ago, in the blood and the trenches of the Somme.Young and proud, they moved forward through fields of red poppies which, under tons of shells, fire and steel, became gigantic fields of death scarified by miles of trenches and barbed wire in which fought and fell millions of these young men, a whole generation that was lost in four years of a war that was hell on earth and in which together they showed their courage and perseverance and did their duty in brotherhood and camaraderie that united them.In the mud, in the cold, among the rats, they lived day and night under artillery, under incessant bombardments, in the interminable expectation of a new assault which, like many others before, broke in successive waves under enemy machine gun fire.Their hearts trembling under the infernal rhythm of the shrapnel exploding above their heads, they stood firm, shoulder to shoulder and found the strength to fight in each other and fought with the greatest determination for every position under hurricanes of fire, they lived with fear, deep and present at every moment but which they never showed, a fear which they overcame in their good humor and mateship in a war which tried to take away their humanity.They faced the brutality and deviousness of increasingly deadly weapons that rained down on them death and destruction under clouds of poisonous gas and flamethrowers but despite these horrors, pains and fury, they never backed down and held the line with the greatest bravery, sometimes until their last breath in bayonet fights, sharing death in the trenches and shell holes in which lay friends and enemies.Brave among the bravest, they fought like lions alongside their friends and comrades, united for their country and gave their today for freedom and peace, for our tomorrow and side by side, at the first whistle, they came out of the trenches and followed their officers, their brothers, their fathers on the battlefield, they moved forward under a hail of bullets, under a hail of relentless shrapnel,they charged under storms of shells which pulverized everything in gigantic flames which shook the ground and the hearts of thousands of young men who, in this hell, in this endless nightmare, saw their best friends who fell one after the other in horrific bloodbaths but never stopped,they went towards their destinies all together with admirable courage and in the poppies, their faces towards the sky, they fell with the pride of having done all they could and of having given their lives alongside exceptional men , a generation of heroes for whom we will always be grateful and who today rest in peace under the sun of the Somme.Young they were and young they will always be beside their brothers in arms who watch over the old battlefields of the Somme where they paid the supreme sacrifice and will never be forgotten because I would always watch over them with the highest respect and love, their stories and their memories will never cease to live in our hearts and in the flame of remembrance that will never cease to shine and that I will always carry high and proud walking through the rows of their graves in the white and peaceful cities of the Somme who will never forget who these young men were and all they did for our country, they will never cease to live.Thank you so much George,for everything.At the going down of the sun and in the morning,we will remember him,we will remember them.

I would like to sincerely thank the Toowoomba Grammar School Old Boys Association without which I would never have been able to write this tribute.

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