Sidney Shepherd


267581 Private Sidney Shepherd, 1st Bucks Battalion, Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, enlisted at Oxford shortly after the appeal against his conscription was rejected by tribunal in May 1916. He was drafted to 1 (Bucks) Battalion OBLI in ‘France and Flanders' with 145 Brigade, 48th Division. It took part in the Somme offensive, July-November 1916. In August 1917, in Flanders, it was ordered to take St Julien, near Langemarck in the opening battles of the ‘Third Ypres' offensive to advance the line to Passchendaele village six miles east. Sidney was one of 920 Other Ranks, led by 25 officers, moving up to the Line in mud and water up to their knees, on disintegrating duckboards. Rain and days of artillery shelling created a quagmire in which neither guns, men nor supplies could be shifted. After 24 hours in the Line they were withdrawn for two days, having lost 2 officers and 67 Other Ranks.

At 4.45 a.m., 16 August they were ordered again into attack. They faced abandoned German blockhouses which quickly became their only cover, flooded and contaminated with sewage and corpses. They could not keep up with the ‘creeping' barrage (100 yards every five minutes) and for the entire day they were exposed to heavy rifle and machine gun fire while being bogged down in mud, shellholes and filthy pillboxes with entrances facing the wrong way. Casualties were severe: 54 killed, 198 wounded, 14 captured and 71 missing, of whom Sidney Shepherd was one. The Battalion was relieved a day later. Sidney's name is on the Tyne Cot Memorial, 5 miles north east of Ypres.

He was baptised in Wheatley on 25 June 1878 along with his twin sister Mary Ann. He was the third son of Charles Shepherd, agricultural labourer, and Emily Munt, both born in Wheatley in 1844 and 1846 respectively. In 1891 they were living on Main Road, Shifford near Witney. In 1901 they were on High Street back in Wheatley, and in 1911 Emily is listed as a widow on Kiln Lane. Sidney was an agricultural labourer at the time of the 1901 Census and in 1911 a carter for a farmer. He was a brother to Charles and William Shepherd, both of whom also served, and returned. See also references to him in the Wheatley Tribunal and Wheatley in a World at War chapters.

Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
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