Alfred Shepherd

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For the Australian politician named Alfred Ernest Shepherd, see Ernie Shepherd (politician).
Alfred Seymour Shepherd
Born (1893-04-13)13 April 1893
Nowra, New South Wales, Australia
Died 20 July 1917(1917-07-20) (aged 24)
France
Arras Flying Services Memorial Pas de Calais, France
Allegiance British Empire
Service/branch Australian Imperial Force
Royal Flying Corps
Years of service 1915–1917
Rank Second Lieutenant
Unit 30th Infantry Battalion AIF
46th Infantry Battalion AIF
No. 29 Squadron RFC
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross

Alfred Seymour Shepherd, DSO, MC (13 April 1893 – 13 July 1917) was an Australian fighter ace of World War I. He was credited with ten aerial victories. A civil engineer by profession, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915, and served with infantry battalions in France. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and was posted to No. 29 Squadron, operating Nieuport fighters. After barely two months at the front, during which his victories earned him the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order, he was shot down and killed by a German ace in July 1917. He was buried in France.

Early life and infantry service[edit]

Alfred Seymour Shepherd was born to James and Emma Shepherd on 13 April 1893 in Nowra, New South Wales.[1][2] Educated at Bomaderry School, Shepherd went on to study at the University of Sydney, graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering degree; he also served four years in the Sydney University Scouts.[2][3]

Shepherd was employed as a civil engineer and living in Petersham, New South Wales, when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Warwick Farm on 8 September 1915.[1][3] He was commissioned a second lieutenant on 1 December.[4] Promoted to lieutenant in the 30th Battalion on 16 January 1916, he sailed with the unit's 4th Reinforcements for the Middle East on 11 March.[5][6] In May he was transferred to 46th Battalion, and deployed to France the following month.[4] After service with the infantry, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) on 22 October 1916.[4][7]

Aerial service[edit]

Single-engined military biplane parked in a field
Nieuport fighter, which equipped No. 29 Squadron RFC beginning in March 1917

On 25 April 1917, Shepherd was posted to No. 29 Squadron RFC as a Nieuport fighter pilot.[4] Operating from Le Hameau, the squadron had only re-equipped with Nieuports in March.[8] In little more than two months Shepherd claimed ten aerial victories, starting with an Albatros D.III on 11 May, and was awarded the Military Cross (MC).[9][10] The citation for his MC, promulgated in the The London Gazette on 16 August 1917, read:[11]

2nd Lt. Alfred Seymour Shepherd, R.F.C., Spec. Res.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. While on balloon attack he came under heavy fire from a rocket battery. He attacked this battery from a low altitude, silencing it, and dispersing the gunners. He then returned to the attack on a balloon, and fired all his ammunition, and though his machine was badly hit, crossed the line at 100 feet.

Shepherd was promoted to captain and appointed a flight commander on 13 July 1917.[4] One week later, having just been awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), he was shot down and killed in action by German ace Alfred Niederhoff, of Jasta 11.[10] Shepherd's ten victories included four aircraft destroyed and six out of control.[9] He is interred at the Arras Flying Services Memorial at the Pas de Calais, France, and commemorated at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.[12] The citation for his DSO, gazetted on 17 September 1917, read:[13]

2nd Lt. Alfred Seymour Shepherd, M.C., R.F.C., Spec. Res.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on numerous occasions when engaged in combat with hostile aircraft. Though surrounded by enemy machines, he continued to fight for nearly an hour with the utmost gallantry and determination against two hostile formations, finally bringing down one of the enemy out of control. Within a month he brought down seven hostile machines completely out of control.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cutlack, The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War, xxvii
  2. ^ a b "Australians honoured". The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney: National Library of Australia). 31 July 1918. p. 12. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Australian Military Forces, Shepherd, Alfred Seymour, pp. 1–2
  4. ^ a b c d e Garrisson, Australian Fighter Aces, p. 101
  5. ^ Australian Military Forces, Shepherd, Alfred Seymour, p. 4
  6. ^ "First World War Embarkation Rolls – Alfred Seymour Shepherd". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  7. ^ Australian Military Forces, Shepherd, Alfred Seymour, p. 14
  8. ^ Franks, Nieuport Aces of World War 1, p. 21
  9. ^ a b Newton, Australian Air Aces, p. 55
  10. ^ a b Franks, Nieuport Aces of World War 1, p. 24
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30234. p. 8382. 14 August 1917. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  12. ^ "Commemorative Roll – Alfred Seymour Shepherd". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 14 March 2014. 
  13. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30287. p. 9557. 14 September 1917. Retrieved 26 February 2010.

References[edit]