432040 Private William James McLeod Shields – 21st Battalion, 2nd NZEF

William James McLeod Shields was born on 7th September 1904 in Treverton, Canterbury the only child of Kate Ethel
and William James Shields.[i]

William (Bill ) must have moved up to the Lower North Island prior to 1935, as his 1941 Attestation papers note, he was
a single man and had served six years with the Territorial Unit, 6th Manawatu Mounted Rifles.  Bill was living in Auckland and working as a linesman for the Auckland Electricity Company. Bill gave his sister-in-law Mrs Lepper as his Next of Kin[ii].

It was not until 8th June 1943 that Bill entered military camp with the 10th Reinforcements.  432040 Private Shields is
listed as a married man with two dependent children with his wife Elsie May Shields his next of kin.[iii] The couple were living in Onehunga, Auckland and Private Shields was employed as a driver for the Auckland City Council.

Private Shields remained in New Zealand until March 1944 and was attached to various army camps in New Zealand as
a Driver, New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC). Driver Shields left New Zealand on 31st March 1944 with the 11th Reinforcements, 2nd NZEF.

On arrival Driver Shields was transferred to the NZ Infantry
Training battalion reverting to Private Shields. On 28th July
1944 Private Shields was sent to Italy as reinforcements and
in the field joined the 21st Battalion on 12th August 1944 at
Empoli. Empoli had just been captured by the 21st (Auckland)
and 26th (Maori) Battalions as the Allied Forces pushed
towards Florence[iv].

         21st Battalion move up via Emilia, Italy  January 1945
The 21st Battalion moved up to the River Po and accepted
German Forces surrender in the Latisana area, Adriatic Coast
in May 1945 as part of the end of hostilities in Italy.

While the 21st Battalion was involved as part of the NZ Division
in keeping the peace in Treiste by July 1945 it was time to look at the logistics of repatriation to New Zealand. It was not until 27th December 1945 the Private Shields boarded the Dunbar Castle to be shipped back to New Zealand. Private Shields was finally discharged on 17th March 1946.

Bill returned to his family in Auckland the 1949[v] Electoral Rolls Bill is listed a driver in Auckland City. The family moved
to the Porirua Area in the late 1950’s – early 1960’s with the development of the new areas.

Elsie May Shields died on 2nd February 1967[vi] and is buried in the old Porirua Cemetery. Bill remained in Titahi Bay until the 1970’s when he returned to Auckland where he died on 6th July 1982[vii].

William James McLeod Shields’s body was returned to Porirua so he could be interred with his wife.

Kate Ethel Shields died following the birth of her son. William James Snr married Alice Jessie Smith.
 It is possible that Elsie May Lepper who’s husband died in 1935 married he brother-in-law.

21st Battalion-The Official History of NZ in the Second World War
1939 – 45: NZETC
NZDF Archives
Paperspast Online
NZ Electoral Rolls

Shields grave Porirua Cemetery (Melanie Macdonald)
21st Battalion moving up via Emilia, Italy January 1945:
Nat Library DA-08028-F
21st Battalion with captured German Naval equipment Latisana May 1945:
Nat Lib DA-09280-F

[i] NZ BDM
[ii] NZDF Archives: 432040 Private William James Shields
[iii] NZDF Archives 432040 Private William James Shields
[iv] 21st Battalion History
[v] NZ Electoral Roll
[vi] Porirua Cemetery Database online
[vii] NZDF Archives 432040 Private William James Shields

21st Battalion at Latisana with German Naval units in the background