91450 Major David Charles Leonard Shepherd, 67 Fd Regt RA

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Uncle Target, Jul 22, 2019.

  1. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Hoping to help others

    It seems some of you are experienced in this type of thing particularly with Italian contacts. Is there any way to confirm or otherwise the cause of death of a British Artillery Officer Major Shepherd Army Number 91450 taken prisoner on 10th December 1944 whose grave was found in Ferarra in May 1945 death date given as 25.12.45., He was assumed to have been snatched by the German 1st Paras and hit on the head, dying of his wounds. To get an unconscious man from Rovine, Monte Calderaro to Ferarra at 0400 in December without being seen or heard would not be easy, although it is situated near to a road/track. He does not seem to have been listed as a POW nor was his death notified at the time which I find strange, if as was reported, he died in a German Military Hospital. He now lies in Argenta Gap War Cemetery. Hard facts please as speculation could be hurtful to relatives. Could they make representations to find this information, if so where. A private message might be prudent. I have not used the facility yet but will try..
  2. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Will have a look at this and get back too you. What is the source of your information to date?

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  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    It is always a good idea to link the CWGC details to a post in situations like this - it stops others hunting for it

    Died 25/12/1944
    Service Number 91450
    Died 25/12/1944
    Aged 29
    67 Field Regt.
    Royal Artillery
    M C, Twice Mentioned in Despatches
    Son of The Ven. Arthur Pearce Shepherd, D.D., M.A., Archdeacon of Dudley and Canon of Worcester, and of Mary Elizabeth Shepherd (nee Rees), of Worcester; husband of Elsie Doreen Shepherd, of Sedgley, Staffordshire.

    UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945
    Name: David Shepherd
    Given Initials: D C L MC
    Rank: Major
    Death Date: 25 Dec 1944
    Number: 91450
    Birth Place: London (not otherwise specified)
    Residence: Dudley
    Regiment at Enlistment: Royal Artillery
    Branch at Enlistment: Royal Artillery
    Theatre of War: Italy
    Regiment at Death: Royal Artillery
    Branch at Death: Royal Artillery

    England, Andrews Newspaper Index Cards, 1790-1976
    Name: David Charles Lennard Shepherd
    Father's name: A P Shepherd
    Spouse's name: Doreen Willetts
    Publication Date: 10 Dec 1944

    UK, Recommendations for Honours and Awards Index, 1935-1990
    Name: David Charles Lennard Shepherd
    Publication Date: 21 Dec 1944
    Rank: Captain, Temporary Major
    Service Number: 91450
    Regiment or Unit: 67 Field Regiment Royal Artillery
    Theatre of Combat or Operation: Italy
    Award: Military Cross
    Date of Action or Award: 1944-1945
    Recommendation for Award for Shepherd, David Charles Lennard Rank: Captain,... | The National Archives

    David Charles Lennard Shepherd (1915-1944) - Find...
    David Charles Lennard Shepherd
    BIRTH 1915
    Hendon, London Borough of Barnet, Greater London, England
    DEATH 25 Dec 1944 (aged 28–29)
    Worcester Cathedral
    Worcester, City of Worcester, Worcestershire, England
    PLOT Memorial Window in the cloisters
    MEMORIAL ID 181243163 · View Source
    PHOTOS 1
    Major (sn: 91450), 67 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. Awarded the British Military Cross on 21 December 1944 and also recieved a posthumous award of the American Silver Star Medal.

  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Moved posts to new thread.
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  5. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Hoping to help others

    Everything TD has just posted plus comments from members of the Regiment.
    It is also mentioned in 1st Division book without name or details that a Battery Commander was taken when walking alone without an escort contrary to orders being bumped on the head.
    The story can be found in Richard Whitfield's Eyes and Ears of the Regiment and the sources he used.
    The men had obvious suspicions but were seemingly just rumours and totally unsubstantiated. I was an Army Cadet in the 1960's and was aware of it from the men that I met who were there..
    I was wondering if it was possible to find records either in the UK or Italy.
    His Grandson intends to go to Italy next year to follow his progress so it would be useful to know if there is anywhere else that he could look.
  6. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Casualty List No. 1631 dated 16.12.44
    Missing, date not reported

    Casualty List No. 1641 Dated 29.12.44
    Previously reported missing, date not reported, now reported missing believed POW 10.12.44

    Casualty List No. 1794 dated 28.6.45
    Previously reported missing believed POW 10.12.44 now reported died of wounds whilst POW in German hands (Italy) 25.12.44

    Gazette 23.9.43 Mention in dispatches
    Gazette 21.12.44 Military Cross, 266 Fd Battery, 67 Field Regt, RA

    From map reference the original place of burial would appear to be at Church of San Cristoforo alla Certosa, Ferrara

    Google Maps

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  7. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Hoping to help others

    Thanks you very much. The map is a good find the CWGC give the reference but we couldn't find a map to suit. From memory there were three Brits buried there.
    The oddity is the date Casualty List 1794 28.6.45 Would this be normal as surely if he died in a Military Hospital on Christmas Day 1944 they would have notified Red Cross at the time so that his family would know asap. Certainly before June 1945. I suppose a head injury might have taken 15days to cause death due to compression on the brain but one can see why the rumours persisted.
    He spoke some Italian and was familiar with Bologna and Northern Italy the War Diary states that he wouldn't be there long and would soon escape. The question was did he die in the attempt.
    The MC and Silver Star were for his actions on 3/4th Feb 1944 at Anzio when the Gordons lost two companies. A third was retaken along with their German escort..
    David Shepherd BC 266 Bty was based in the Gordons HQ calling in the Divisional Artillery for support and Captain K Jupp Commander of C Troop 266 Bty was with one of the Companies calling in close support, his OP Carrier driver got an MM for continuing to call despite being under direct heavy fire. They brought in casualties on their carrier to the revised Defensive positions.
    The MiD was earned at Point 144 near the Medjez-Tunis Road after the Battle of Banana Ridge. I will pass this on to Major Shepherds Grandson. I am not sure that there is more that can be done but if anyone has any ideas please let me know.
  8. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    A few questions come to mind...

    So, Major Shepherd was captured whilst out walking alone. Where was he walking alone? I presume you have a copy of the War Diary for December as you have quote it, saying that 'he wouldn't be there long and would soon escape'. Could you please post a copy of this diary?

    Where did the information come that he was 'bumped on the head'?

    Was it common practice for German military hospitals to send lists of enemy deceased to the IRC? If so, I have yet to come across an instance of this. The IRC mentioned the deceased in their reports on Italian military hospitals up to the Armistice but there were very few visits afterwards when these hospitals had been taken over by the Germans.

    What makes you think that a delay of six months between a serviceman being reported missing believed POW and his appearance on a casualty list is unusual? Sometimes it could take years.

    Finally, has the family sent for a copy of his service record? Italian hospital admission records can only be issued to next of kin. It is necessary to find out which hospital he was admitted to.

  9. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Hoping to help others

    1. He was walking from his OP to Gordons TAC HQ
    2..Information source unknown
    3.That is the question I am asking to which you have kindly replied
    4. as Q3
    5. Remains to be done

    Thank you for your prompt and friendly advice. I see no reason to proceed further. Situation resolved.
  10. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I am pleased that you are satisfied with what has been said so far but my curiosity has been aroused and I am going to try to find out which hospital in Ferrara was being run by the Germans, and if the casualties from this hospital were buried in the large cemetery at La Certosa.

    I am currently researching the fate of all British and Commonwealth servicemen who died in enemy held territory in Italy, both Prisoners of War and members of the Special Services, and had already noted the three 'unusual' burials in Argenta Gap War Cemetery.

    I am going to check out the cemetery now and will edit this post with a link,


    From Wikipedia:

    Ferrara Charterhouse (Italian: Certosa di Ferrara), of which the present Church of San Cristoforo alla Certosa was previously the monastic church, is a former charterhouse or Carthusian monastery built in Renaissance style, located on Piazza Borso 50 in Ferrara, Region of Emilia-Romagna, Italy. The monastery was suppressed in the time of Napoleon, but the church was reconsecrated in 1813 and remains in use. The site also accommodates a large municipal cemetery, which was established in 1813.

    I could now try to contact the municipal cemetery to find out from which hospital Maj. Shepherd and the others were brought in from.

    Second edit: have emailed the cemetery with the concentration form.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  11. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Hoping to help others

    Once again a splendid job from the experts on site.
    I was not sure as to the procedures re POW's but wrongly assumed that the IRC were present to check hospital records and the Germans were efficient in following procedures.
    Being an officer I thought that he might have been treated the same as RAF POW's. The following night 9 Gordons were taken from a house between Monte Calderaro and Monte Cerere including an officer. They were obviously assessing the quality of the British opposition who had replaced the Americans. The Battle then erupted for Monte Cerere involving the Argylls and Indian units as well as 1 Div. before they had a chance to become familiar with their surroundings.
    I have experienced a small number of POW stories one of whom died in a German Hospital on the French/Belgian border where it took 3 months to be notified of the death. They ended up assuming he died of an infection as several previous correspondences said he was alive. That was assumed to have been due to the circumstances surrounding the Dunkirk withdrawal.
    I have also the accounts of men captured at Banana Ridge who received very good and rapid medical treatment at the hands of the Germans in Tunisia. The Officers and Sergeants escaped when Tunis fell but some of the lower ranks were taken to Bizerte then on to Sicily up through Italy and finally sent to Germany and Austria by train.
    Some came back from Poland having been next door to Auschwitz whilst two escaped and got back home six months before the Regiment came back.
  12. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Thanks to all contributors for an interesting topic.

    The family might glean some more information from Red Cross in Switzerland via this link -

    Requests for information about people held during Spanish Civil War or the Second World War: Quarterly limit reached

    It’s a free service and it takes about 4 months to get a reply by post from ICRC. An online application form will appear on the site about 8am BST 23rd September so I’d suggest the family check the site every 30 minutes from 8am as the application window will likely have closed by mid morning if past application windows are anything to go by.

    Good Luck.

    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  13. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Hoping to help others

    I was reluctant to raise this on a forum but it seems to be a solution to finding if there was more to the case. I am satisfied with the fact that it was not unusual to know nothing of the facts but there is always that nagging thought . He was not just any Artillery Major. He was known for his attachment to the Gordons. He also pioneered a technique known as Upper Register Firing where they built special gun pits to raise the elevation of the 25 pounder guns to be used like a mortar in the Wadis of Anzio. This was also used to effect on the Gothic line at San Clemente.
    Perhaps I have a vivid imagination: There were many Gordons captured at Anzio and many Italian Paras with the Herman Goering Division who claim to have gone home to the Senio Valley to await the Allies. One claimed to have organised an ambush on an American patrol on Monte Calderaro:
    During the war the fascist regime in Northern Italy fielded the 1st Parachute Arditi Regiment Folgore, which also fielded a Nembo and a Folgore battalion.
    "I am going to tell you this story today, since it is October 29 and exactly 73 years ago, the then seventeen year old Alfio, meanwhile passed from the Nembo of Commander Edoardo Sala to the 1. Rgt. Fallschirmjäger Scultz Rennacke, showed allies and enemies the value of the Italian soldier, earning on the Gothic Line the coveted German decoration EK2 - Eiserne Kreuz 2. Klasse - Iron Cross of 2nd Class and saving 16 Fallschirmjäger from an ambush of the American Rangers at Monte Calderaro".
    Has this any credible connection with the activities in December 1944. I cant quite remember where this came up probably when I searched Monte Calderaro 1944. There were also some videos on youtube similar in content which have since disappeared.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  14. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Hoping to help others

    Sorry to be a bore but it was David Charles Lennard Shepherd a la the Obituary placed by his parents and the Memorial in Worcester Cathedral. NOT Leonard. If that was from the CWGC they got it wrong.

    . DCLS  BC 266 Bty.jpg
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
  15. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    If Maj Shepherd’s grandson would like to see and understand what happened to 6 GORDONS on the night 3-4 Feb 44 at Anzio, I will be running a battlefield study there in 2020.

    He can reach me through www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk


  16. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    Here, here. I would agree with Steve.

    Top chap who has submitted a request on my behalf & (It would have been hard-work for me to do it) regarding the job that i have.

    Stu. Fingers crossed.
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  17. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    You've lost me. I thought we were trying to establish what had happened to Major Shepherd .

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  18. Stuart Avery

    Stuart Avery In my wagon & not a muleteer.

    The following night (9 Gordon's): should that not be the 6? Here are the diaries of 67 Field Rgt R.A. Uncle Target, it is handy to show your sources for the information that you have given ( no hard feelings at all!) Not had the chance to resize the map that goes with the diaries below which is shown in the History of FIRST DIVISION Florence to Monte Grande. I'm thinking its Map 10 b.
    rsz_p8060654.jpg rsz_p8060655.jpg

    I've checked the (6 Gordon's) for this period & i don't think its worth posting any of them. Your man does get a mention on the 10th of December, but the Adjutant does not go into much detail. Click on the images. Diaries from that nice chap called Scott.;)

    I would like to find out what happened to Major Shepherd, but I think it may not come to light.

    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  19. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Thanks for posting the war diary. I feel we've now got a primary source to go on. As you say, there's not much, but what there is tells us something.

    10 December: 'The search party found Major Shepherd's tin hat lying on the track ' is an improvement on him having been 'bumped on the head'. Only a witness to the scuffle or an admissions register from a hospital could have verified the he had suffered a head injury. Hence, no one knows what actually happened to Maj. Shepherd and whether he was injured whilst being captured.

    This comment in the War Diary is also very interesting:

    'We all expect to see him again, as he knows Italy very well, speaks Italian and would not be a pacific prisoner.' (my italics)

    I think these statements are somewhat different.

    And another point, whilst I'm being pernickety, the newspaper cutting says he died in a German Field hospital but the Casualty list has another version:
    Let's hope I get a reply from the cemetery in Ferrara,

  20. Uncle Target

    Uncle Target Hoping to help others

    Don't get too pernickety or you will see the name Major Rose. The A/CO 6 Gordons was Major Clapham Major Rose it seems was with the Argylls. according to the Gordon Highlanders Museum.
    In photos with Major Shepherd he is Lt Colonel Clapham named by officers of the 67th on two separate occasions.
    Re comment above: 9 Gordons refers to eight o/r's plus a lieutenant captured not the battalion. Just cant get the staff these days!
    I await your response with baited breath Vitellino, thank you for your interest in this conundrum. I have been looking into this for some years contacting various organisations in the UK and Italy to no avail. It is a mystery that the men of the Regiment failed to solve. One wrote to the Gordons thirty years ago, others visited the Apennines but perhaps the answers might be available here.

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