Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Stories from the Great War ............ the Shaw family and their loss of five sons ..... no. 2 the Western Front

Even from the distance of a century the impact of the Great War continues to reverberate through most families.

The five brothers
Few I suspect cannot account for one family member who either joined the Colours or was engaged on essential war work.  In our case we can count seven from our immediate family and in the course of the book I wrote many of those I interviewed had stories of grandfathers and great grandfather’s who had fought on all the battle fronts, including the Italian one, and of grandmothers who had done their bit in the munitions factories, as Red Cross nurses, or working on the land and on the trams.*

In the case of Pam it was her five great uncles.  She told me, “We grew up with their memories as part of our lives. “

And she also passed over an account written by one of her relatives of the five men, all of whom died during the conflict.

The article written by the son of Thomas Shaw is undated and there is no clue where it was published, but it must post date 1986 because there is a reference to the Queen’s birthday of that year.

Thomas Shaw
The piece is short but details the fate of all five. Two had left for Australia before 1914 and they both enlisted in the Australian army.

Of these Jessie died at Gallipoli in 1915 and his brother John who was a Lieutenant in the 20th Battalion, 9th Brigade of the Australian Force was on May 3 1917.**

On the same, day, the eldest son, Rifleman Thomas Samuel Shaw, aged 32 of the 8th King’s Royal Rifles was killed during an attack on German positions in a wood.

His body was never recovered.

Thomas was the father of the author of the article, who added, “With Uncle Jessie at Gallipoli, three brothers were killed on May 3; Private James Friend Shaw was to be the third brother to be killed in 1917, overstating his age to enlist.  

He was with the 20th Battalion London Regiment which was in Ypres area.  Uncle James was killed in action on August 3 1917 aged 20.”

Jessie Shaw
In the previous year Lance Corporal Henry James Shaw was killed during the Battle of the Somme.  He was 29.

By any measure the loss of five sons must have been very difficult and it underlines the sacrifice that was made by so many.

Their father lived in New Cross.

In time I will devote some time to researching the five men, their families and the life of their father, mother and sister.

All of whom will have stories that should be told.

Location; London, Gallipoli and the Western Front

Pictures; from an article written by the son of Thomas Shaw, and kindly supplied by Pam White Prosser

*Manchester Remembering 1914-18,

**The Shaw family and the Great War,

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