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Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Pte 3637 19y6m 25 Aug 1915 5 May 1916 DW 2 & 7

Private Donald Richard Shields (1896 - 1916)

Shields Brothers Booklet

The Shields Family

Charles and Donald Shields were sons of Alfred Henderson Shields, a carpenter, and his wife Harriet née Dunn.  Their parents had married in 1885 in a house in Amelia Street, Fortitude Valley after emigrating when they were children, Alfred from Scotland and Harriet from Cornwall. To earn a living during the early twentieth century it had been necessary for Alfred and Harriet Shields to move with their young, growing family to Albion, Nanango and Woody Point before returning to Fortitude Valley and later settling at Sargeant Road (now Sargent Street) New Farm.  Three of their ten children died in infancy; their youngest child was Dorothy Jean, their only surviving daughter.

Charles and Donald were nearly seven years apart in age.  Both attended Fortitude Valley State School where Mr Hardcastle was the Head Teacher.  Both went off to the war but did not return.

In 1925 Alfred and Harriet Shields moved to Bribie Island where Alfred continued his carpentry trade and played bowls at Bongaree in the days before a bridge connected the island to the mainland.  Mrs Shields died there in 1934.  Alfred Shields was 90 years old when he died in 1953.  His grave is in Toowong Cemetery.

Early Life

Donald Shields was the third surviving son of Alfred and Harriet Shields.  He had three younger brothers and a younger sister.  He was born at Fortitude Valley on 7 February 1896 and attended Fortitude Valley State School.  In his youth he served in junior cadets and senior cadets in the Citizen Defence Force acquiring the rank of corporal.  He gained employment as a draper.

Enlistment and service 

As soon as he reached the age of 19 years and six months and with his parents’ permission, he enlisted in Brisbane on 25 August 1915 in the AIF for service beyond the limits of the Commonwealth of Australia.  His mother, Mrs Harriet Shields of Sargeant Road, New Farm was next-of-kin and his religious denomination was Presbyterian.  Private Shields was allotted to reinforcements for the 25th Battalion and commenced training at Enoggera Camp before embarking per HMAT1 Kyarra from Brisbane on 3 January 1916.  

After further training in Egypt while camped at Moascar, Private Shields was transferred to the 2nd Pioneer Battalion and his unit left Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force in France via Marseilles late in March.  While in action at Armentières just over a month later on 5 May 1916, Private Donald Shields was wounded by shrapnel and admitted to No 8 Casualty Clearing Station in France where he died of wounds to the head and a bleeding knee. His burial was conducted by Rev. Anthony Finn the next day at Bailleul Cemetery.

Donald’s brief military service had begun and ended while his brother Charles was serving in Europe. One wonders if news of Donald’s death might have triggered Charles’s decision to end his own life.

Donald’s effects were sent in a package to his grieving parents - disc, wallet, cards, diary, belt, metal wrist watch (broken) and coins (5).  Mr Alfred Shields signed forms of receipt when the British War Medal was delivered to his New Farm home in November 1921 and the Victory Medal in February 1923.  As mentioned in Charles' story, in a separate letter dated 19 October 1920 on behalf of each of her beloved sons, Mrs Harriet Shields asked that the Cross of the Christian faith be inscribed on the memorial tablets on her sons’ graves, with the words in John 15, verse 13.  She was advised however that the number of letters must not exceed 66, each space between words to count as an additional letter.  

Donald is remembered with honour however at the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, beautifully maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in France, at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and in Saint Andrew’s Church in Brisbane.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

1. His Majesty’s Australian Transport 

• National Archives of Australia, World War 1 military records 
• Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Embarkation Rolls, Unit histories and images where cited
• Commonwealth War Graves Commission, memorial records
• Ancestry on line
• Noonan, David, Those We Forget: Recounting Australian Casualties of the First World War, Melbourne University Press, 2014
• Australian Electoral Rolls, 1905 - 1949
• Brisbane City Council, cemetery records
Brisbane Courier, 21 March, 1885, page 1
Courier-Mail, 13 April 1953, page 10

Written by Noel E. Adsett, Brisbane.  June 2017 ©



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