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26/372 Lieutenant Alexander William Shepherd - New Zealand Rifle Brigade
 
Alexander William Shepherd born, on the 29th November 1892, was the eldest son of Captain A W & Mrs L A Shepherd. Captain Shepherd at the time of his son’s birth was serving in the Ordnance Corp of the Indian Army and the family were based at Simla (Shimla). Simia is located in the northern Indian state of Himachai Pradesh and was the summer capital
of British India.[i]
 
It is unclear when Alexander arrived in New Zealand but he registered for Compulsory Training in Nelson which would indicate prior to 1914. By 1915 Alexander was in New Zealand and working as a hospital attendant at Porirua Hospital.
 
On the 12th October 1915 Alexander enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) entering Trentham Camp
as 26/372 Rifleman Shepherd, B Company of the newly formed 4th Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. After
basic training Rifleman Shepherd sailed from Wellington, on the 5th February 1916, for Egypt.
 
Rifleman Shepherd’s company then was transported to England for future training for service on the Western Front. Rifleman Shepherd was promoted to Lance Corporal in August 1916 before proceeding to France where he was posted
to B Company, 3rd Battalion NZRB. Lance Corporal Shepherd was promoted to Corporal in March 1917.
 
Corporal Shepherd, while in the field, was nominated for officer training and returned to England starting the course
in April 1917 and passing out as 2nd Lieutenant Shepherd on the 2nd June 1917.
 
2nd Lt Shepherd returned to the 3rd Battalion as was appointed as a company officer with a confidential report, dated 11th November 1917, noting:[ii]
 
‘Suitable to be promoted to Platoon Commander – a capable and promising officer,
performing his duties in a thorough and practical manner. His word of command is
weak but should improve as he gains experience.’
 
2nd  Lt Shepherd was wounded a month later and was evacuated to England for treatment returning to his unit in
January 1918. On the 21st March 1918 the German army launched their Spring Offensive ‘Operation Michael’ and the
NZ Division was rushed from the rear to plug a critical gap in the Allied front lines, fighting to hold the Germans on the
old, 1916,  battlefields of the Somme. 
 
 
 
 
Kiwi Troops take a break 6th April 1918
 
 
 
 
On 26th April 1918,near Meteren, Lt Shepherd was again wounded with bullet wounds to the right arm and chest and was evacuated to England. 2nd Lt Shepherd would remain in hospital in England until September 1918 when he again returned to France to rejoin his unit in the final months of the war.
 
 
Following the 11th November 1918 Armistice 2nd Lt Shepherd was attached to NZ Command and promoted in December to Lieutenant.
 
On 27th January 1919 Alexander William Shepherd married Norah Hermonie Ethel Villers, Norah was the eldest daughter of Major and Mrs Villier of Simla, India, the Shepherd and Villier families knew each other from time spent in India.
Norah was a very ‘modern’ lady having studied at Dublin University and obtaining a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) LL B (Legal) degree. Lt & Mrs Shepherd remained in London until July 1919 when Lt Shepherd returned to New Zealand on the troopship SS Briton, Norah may have followed later.
 
Lt Shepherd was demobilised on 21st August 1919 but remained on the Reserves list.[iii]
 
Alexander initially returned to Nelson farming at Stanley Brook, Nelson before moving to the Waikato and then Auckland. In Auckland Norah, in 1923, became involved in Martin’s Business College.[iv]  Later both Alexander and Norah
became principles in the Auckland Business College a firm they successfully ran into the 1950’s.
 
Alexander and Norah had at least one child[v] with Norah dying in 1973 and Alexander in 1979.
 
Notes:
Defence Act 1909 required the registration of all males 18 – 21 for service in the Territorials.
 
References:
Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: 26/372 Lieutenant Alexander William Shepherd.
Papers Past online
NZ BDM Online
 
Photos:
Kiwi Troops take a breather on the front line at La Sgny Farm 6th April 1918 – Royal New Zealand RSA Collection: Alexander Turnbull Library ½-013089-G text and background
 
[i] British India – Wikipedia
[ii] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: 26/372 Lt A J Shepherd.
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand – Military Files: 26/372 Lt A J Shepherd.
[iv] Commercial Colleges (3 March 1923 ) New Zealand Herald
[v] Engagements Catchpole – Shepherd (27 April 1945) Auckland Star
 
 
 
Kiwis take a break April 1918