Baptised on 4 September 1881 but listed in Censuses as born in Wheatley the following year: son of James Shorter, agricultural labourer, and Ellen/Eleanor Messenger, both born in Wheatley. In 1891 they lived on Bell Lane, later on Church Road. Brother of Frederick, George and James ‘Jim' Shorter. A saw mill labourer in 1911, living in Blenheim, Wheatley, with Jim as then head of household. He appears to have joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner several years before the War, being posted to Singapore for three years and Ceylon for two and being discharged in 1909. He had become an acting unpaid Bombardier but later requested to revert to Gunner. Having signed up again, his name appeared on the Roll of Honour carried by the Oxford Times on 26 September 1914. He had married a widow, Lizzie Cannon, on 13 January 1913 at St. Mary's Church. Her maiden name was Stanley and she had lived in 1901 with her parents in Coombe Wood: see also mention of her under Rothwell Douglas.