Samuel Shepley, Private 11055, 8th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Died of wounds 6th April 1916 in Mesopotamia (Iraq), aged 40
Samuel Shepley was baptised on 18th July 1875 at St Peter’s Church, Windmill Street, Macclesfield, the son of Sarah Ann Shepley, a silk winder of 1 Gosling Street, Macclesfield (off Cuckstoolpit Hill). By 1881, six year old Samuel was living at 58 Watercotes with his mother and two year old brother Arthur; and in 1891 the family had moved to 61 Watercotes and Samuel was employed as a fustian cutter.
In January 1892 Samuel joined the 4th (Militia) Cheshire Regiment, receiving service number 2263. He was described as 5 feet 6½ inches tall, with a 32 inch chest, fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He also stated that he was a Roman Catholic, and he was 18 years old – although he was not yet 17!
Samuel married Hannah Whittaker on 12th July 1896 at St Peter’s Church, Macclesfield. He stated that he was employed as a labourer, and lived at 61 Watercotes. By 1901 the couple were living at 3 Court 2 Lower Bank Street with their children Bertha (3) and Arthur (2), and Samuel’s mother; Samuel was again employed as a fustian cutter. Ten years later they had moved back to Waterside and were living at 1 Court, 2 House with their children Bertha (13), Sarah Ann (9), May (5) and Ernest (3); sadly, four other children born to the couple had died. Another son, Sidney, was born in 1911.
Samuel’s wife Hannah died of pthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis) on 14th February 1916 while Samuel was away fighting in Mesopotamia (now known as Iraq), leaving his eldest daughter Bertha, aged 18, the responsibility of taking care of her siblings.
Samuel was working as a riveter when he attested at Macclesfield soon after the start of the war on 17th August 1914; he joined the 8th Cheshire Regiment, which came under orders of 40th Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. His army service records described him as a man of 5 feet 8½ inches tall, weighing 147 pounds, with a 34½ inch chest, grey eyes and dark brown hair, and had a tattoo mark “S S”. He said he was a Church of England worshipper, and was 29 years old (he was actually ten years older).
By October 1914, the 8th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment was training at Draycott Camp in Chisledon, Wiltshire, and in February 1915 they moved to Pirbright for further training. Whilst still in England undergoing training, Samuel was reprimanded a number of times, including being “drunk & creating a disturbance at Southampton Railway Station”, “not going to bed when ordered”, “insolence to a NCO”, culminating in forfeiting 7 days pay on 29th May 1915 for “I. Breaking out of barracks whilst a defaulter; II. Absent from 2.30pm until apprehended about 10.50pm by the Military Police at Byfleet; III Attempting to travel by rail without a ticket.”
Samuel departed England’s shores with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, travelling via Egypt to Gallipoli, arriving there on 26th June 1915. On the 9th November he was sent to hospital at Suvla with jaundice, rejoining his Battalion on 1st December 1915. The Battalion was evacuated from Gallipoli in January 1916, moving to Egypt.
On 14th February 1916 the Battalion embarked at Port Said bound for Basra, Iraq, arriving two weeks later on 28th February. On 5th April 1916 Samuel suffered a gunshot wound to his buttock which severed an artery, and he died later the same day at the 19th British Field Ambulance Station in the Persian Gulf.
Samuel’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Courier of 17th June, 1916:
PRIVATE S SHEPLEY – Information has been received by his family that Private Samuel Shepley, of the 1/7th Cheshire regiment, has died of wounds. Private Shepley was 42 years of age, and he formerly served in the local Militia. He went out to the Dardanelles last June, and subsequently went to Egypt. A sad circumstance is the fact that last February his wife died leaving five children, the eldest of whom is 19 years of age.
Private Samuel Shepley has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. 14 and 62 of the Basra Memorial, Iraq. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Samuel Shepley, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.