RIP Wilf Shaw, Veteran, 6th Green Howards

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by 4jonboy, Mar 21, 2018.

  1. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have to report the passing of forum member Wilf Shaw, aged 98, my dear friend and Veteran of 6th Green Howards. His family have told me he passed away very peacefully in the early hours of this morning, Wednesday 21st March in hospital. He had enjoyed exceptional health for his age until a few weeks ago, when the breathing difficulties he had had trouble with during the past eighteen months worsened quite dramatically.

    I visited him at home in Oldham just less than two weeks ago, and even though he was quite unwell, he still managed to have a cheerful smile and a warm welcome for me; as usual we chatted and laughed and tried to put the world 'to rights' and he never lost his sense of humour.

    He first contacted me through the forum around the Autumn of 2012. I don't know why he messaged me in particular; maybe he had been browsing the forum as he was a lurker, not a poster; but probably wanted to make contact with someone whose father had served in WW2 also. We messaged and e-mailed regularly and finally met at his home in February 2013, just before his 93rd birthday.

    Wilf was a true gentleman, with a very dry sense of humour and I always enjoyed the stories he told me; he could recall most things-names of men he served with and the places he visited. We didn't always talk about his war years, in fact we often discussed the latest news, politics-he was an avid reader of books and newspapers and had always something to talk about, so I think in the 5 years I knew him we were never short of conversation.

    Wilf was always very generous with his time. Regular forum members will recall our few meetings with Paul Cheall at the cafe in Debenhams in Manchester. He never seemed to tire of Paul's questions and queries about his time in the Green Howards and the stories Wilf told were always told with some little funny anecdotes which had Paul and I in stitches and I do often wonder what the staff in the cafe thought we were getting up to for hours sat in there!

    There are so many things I could say but cannot put into words right now about the wonderful gentleman Wilf was, but I feel privileged to have met such a kind man and I am proud to have called him my friend.

    RIP My old, soldier friend. I shall miss you very much. :poppy:

    Signaller 6th Green Howards 1940.jpg Wilf April 2017 (4).JPG
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
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  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    I'm so sorry to hear this news Lesley, as you quite rightly say, you have been blessed to have met such a man. :poppy:
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  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    What sad news.

    My condolences not only to his family but also to his friends particularly you Lesley as well as Paul C.
    I enjoyed reading the periodic updates and photos on the British Veterans thread when you met up with Wilf.
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  4. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian Patron

    Thank you for sharing the sad news with us, Lesley. May he rest in peace. :poppy:
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  5. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Sad news, Lesley.
    He was a funny bugger!
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  6. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Sorry to hear the sad news Lesley.
    Please pass on my condolences to his family

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  7. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Great guy. Great sense of humour. Will be sadly missed. RIP.
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  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    :poppy: RIP Wilf :poppy:

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  9. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    Thanks for notifying us Lesley and for that heartfelt tribute.

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  10. Hugh MacLean

    Hugh MacLean Senior Member

    My condolences to his family and friends. RIP Wilf.
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  11. paulcheall

    paulcheall Son of a Green Howard

    I too feel very sad at Wilf's passing. I was surprised to find, when I checked, that I've corresponded with Wilf since 2011 and have met up with him several times in more recent years, sometimes with Lesley, who has been a stalwart friend to Wilf for a long period. In all those times Wilf has proved to be a fantastic raconteur, if that's the right word, and had an impressive recall of all his exploits - the macabre, the tragic and the funny. Wilf had a very full war and fought as a signaller with 6th Battalion the Green Howards, 50th infantry division, in the British Army. He fought in many campaigns including fighting for Monty’s 8th army in Alamein, Wadi Akarit in Tunisia, Sicily and of course Normandy. He was wounded twice and still returned to battle! In recent years Wilf was awarded the Legion D'honneur by the people of France for his services in Normandy in 1944.

    I bless the day I met Wilf and am thankful that I could chat with him as much as I did, for talking to Wilf was the next best thing to speaking to my own late Dad, also of the 6 Green Howards, and who fought in most of the same battles as Wilf. Thanks to the inspiration I received from Dad and Wilf, I've been privileged to receive several other war memoirs which I've been able to cover in my podcast, including the letters of Fred Zilken, a best pal of Wilf's.

    Wilf once said that someone reckoned he was the last surviving Green Howard who fought in the second world war. It would be good if anyone reading this can advise further. I'm going to be writing to the Green Howards museum at Richmond about this.

    Meanwhile, I can think of no better tribute to pay to Wilf than to cite the words of Fred Zilken in one of his letters to Wilf, in which he said, "You were never in a panic, Wilf. I remember when you came over to the Mortars you were composed and didn’t give a damn about enemy shells or mortars! You were always a rebel, Wilf, and it was those types of blokes who won this bloody war for us - if it had been for me, the war would still have been going on now!"

    Goodbye, my old chum and, in your own words, "keep trespassing" wherever you may be. You'll be badly missed.

    RIP Private Shaw W
    Called up on 13 June 1940
    6th Battalion, Green Howards
    Born 6 Feb 1920, Died 21 March 2018, Aged 98

    If anyone would like to listen to the chats we had over coffee with Wilf, they can catch up on the not-for-profit podcast I produce at, or find it on iTunes or any podcast player.There is a special page for Wilf at Coffees with Wilf Shaw, where you can find all his episodes plus some photographs. At the time of writing, there is at least one more recorded meeting yet to be released plus Wilf's personal memoir which I'm working on to produce as an audio book - it's called Bright Burns the Memory and the proceeds will go to the Green Howards museum in Richmond, Yorkshire, and the Salvation army.


    Attached Files:

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  12. Recce_Mitch

    Recce_Mitch Very Senior Member

    :poppy: Wilf Shaw RIP :poppy:

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  13. Deacs

    Deacs Well i am from Cumbria.

    So sorry to hear this news lesley please pass on my condolences to his family :poppy:
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
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  14. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Very sad news, Lesley. I know that especially you and Paul Cheall knew Wilf well.

    It’s always difficult to know what to say about WWII veterans you meet, whether in person or just on this forum, who pass. They are in fact just ordinary people who lived in extraordinary times and did extraordinary things. Our lives today would all be the lesser without them and their deeds. All of them are/were modest.

    I guess it’s just a case of chin up, pick up yer kit and march on... that’s what Wilf did. He missed 50 Div’s BEF sojourn, but was with them through the Western Desert campaign - the Gazala Gallop, El Alamein, Mareth, Wadi Akarit, then to Sicily, and then D-Day on Gold Beach through to Operation Market Garden and The Island. Paul’s father was also with the BEF and then with 50 Div all the way through. No British Infantry Division did more for this country than 50 Div. It’s hard to feel ‘worthy’ in contrast with the soft lives we have now.

    But Wilf and all the guys who served in WWII earned that for us. I will never forget them.

    RIP Wilf Shaw, 6th Bn Green Howards, 69th Infantry Brigade, 50th (Northumbrian) Division.


    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
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  15. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    :poppy: Wilf Shaw :poppy:


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  16. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Rest In Peace Wilf

    Lesley & Paul, you have some great memories of him to treasure forever .
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  17. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

  18. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Very sorry to hear that Wilf has gone. I didn't know that he had gone all the way from Gazala to the Island, but as a historian of Fifty Div who knows the casualties suffered along the way I can't imagine that many in the 50th could have matched that. And to think that he not only survived all that but lived on for another seventy plus years...that's truly extraordinary. Some blokes are born blessed, it seems.
  19. Oldman

    Oldman Very Senior Member

    Lesley & Paul
    Sorry to hear of the loss of your friend and veteran Wilf Shaw, treasure the memories and laughter.
    Condolances to his family and friends

    RIP Wilf
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  20. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    As a veteran Wilf lived to be a grand old age and was able to recount and pass on his personal experience of serving his country.

    At one time it was common to meet and work with many who had military service during the critical times for the country...those numbers are dwindling from a time when the British Isles were threatened to be overrun by the New Order......June 1940 a time when Britain alone was a free nation in Europe....future uncertain and it must have featured largely in the minds of all who served or were conscripted.

    Wilf represented those young men and women who were called to arms to serve in what was a largely a civilian army.

    Wilf's photographs indicate a man who appears to be jovial character and at ease with the passage of must have been a pleasure to know him.

    Rest in Peace Wilf :poppy:

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