Shepherd WH


27/691 Private W.H. Shepherd, 27th Battalion (Tyneside Irish) Northumberland Fusiliers was killed in action 28 April 1917 and is buried at Fampoux British Cemetery,[1] east of Arras, France.  He was about 34 years old and is commemorated on the St. Helens Colliery Memorial Cottages and on the War Memorial in St. Andrew’s churchyard, South Church, Bishop Auckland.

Family Details

William Shepherd was born 1883 (Barnestone?) in Yorkshire.  To date, his family has not been traced but in 1911 he lived with his aunt, Mary Atkinson and cousin, Margaret Atkinson at 7 Dent Street, Tindale Crescent.  He worked as a colliery labourer. [2]

Service Details

William Henry Shepherd enlisted at Bishop Auckland [3] and served with the Northumberland Fusiliers, 27th (Service) Battalion (4th Tyneside Irish) being given the regimental number 27/691.  The battalion was formed at Newcastle in November 1914 by the Lord Mayor and came under the orders of 103rd Brigade, 34th Division.  It landed in France in January 1916.[4]  The following served with the 103rd Brigade:

  • 24th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers (1st Tyneside Irish)
  • 25th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers (2nd Tyneside Irish)
  • 26th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers (3rd Tyneside Irish)
  • 27th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers (4th Tyneside Irish)
  • 103rd Machine Gun Company joined 27 April 1916
  • 103rd Trench Mortar Battery joined 18 February 1916

Following extremely heavy losses incurred by the Brigade during the attack at La Boiselle on 1 July 1916, the Brigade was attached to 37th Division between 6 July and 22 August 1916.[5]  The Division remained on the Western Front throughout the war and up until Private Shepherd’s death 28 April 1917 took part in the following engagements:

1916, phases of the Battle of the Somme: [6]

  • The Battle of Albert 1-13 July
  • The Battle of Bazentin Ridge 14-17 July
  • The Battle of Pozieres Ridge 23 July – 3 September
  • The Battle of Flers-Courcelette 15-22 September

1917, phases of the Arras Offensive: [7]

  • The First Battle of the Scarpe 9-14 April
  • The Second Battle of the Scarpe 23-24 April
  • The Battle of Arleux 28-29 April

The 34th Division was part of the 17th Corps, Third Army under Allenby.  Whilst the Canadians were successful in capturing Vimy Ridge, British formations struggled as the Arras Offensive raged on.  One position which proved troublesome was the Arleux Loop at the village of Arleux-en-Gohelle.  A preliminary offensive was launched on the morning, 28 April aimed at eliminating the Loop and linking together the 2 salients which had been formed on the 23 April by advances north and south of the Scarpe.  On 28 and 29 April, British and Canadian forces fought a bitter battle at Arleux in an attempt to secure the southeast flank of Vimy Ridge.  Three Divisions of the Third Army attacked astride the river and the British 2nd Division assaulted opposite Oppy.  On its left the 1st Canadian Division stormed the Arleux Loop and in the words of the British Official Historian was, “the only tangible success of the whole operation.[8]   Whilst this objective was achieved, casualties were high. [9]

28 April: the 27/Northumberland Fusiliers lost 4 officers and 42 other ranks, one being Private W.H. Shepherd killed in action and another 4 other ranks died between then and the end of the month.

27/691 Private W.H. Shepherd was awarded the British War and Victory medals. [10]


27/691 Private W.H. Shepherd is buried at grave reference B.33, Fampoux British Cemetery, near Arras.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] 1911 census

[3] Soldiers Died in the Great War







[10] Medal Roll card index


SHEPHERD W.H. Headstone


SHEPHERD W.H. Medal Roll

Medal Roll

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  1. Pingback: ST.HELEN’S | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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