Private Harold SHACKLEFORD

Wellington Regiment,
New Zealand Expeditionary Force
1st Battalion
Service Number:
Date of Death:
17 September 1916
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 8

Personal History:
Harold was born at Lincoln, Canterbury, New Zealand in 1887/8, the son of Rev. Lewis John Shackleford (Baptist Minister) and Eleanor Mary (née Roberts) Shackleford. He had three younger brothers and sisters, Minnie Kathleen, Lionel Hampden and Nora, and in 1901 (Census RG 13/3896) were living at 16 Pimlico Road, Clitheroe, Lancashire. (N.B. All the other children were born in different parts of the U.K., probably reflecting the nature of the father's Ministry or his research, and possibly why Harold was born in New Zealand. This may also be the link to Buxton.)
In 1911 (Census RG 14/25420) Harold's parents and siblings had moved to 25 Drummond Avenue, Layton, Blackpool, but he was not with them, nor appears on the Census. As he enlisted in New Zealand it is likely that Harold had returned to the country of his birth.

At the  time of his enlistment Harold's parents' address was recorded as 66 Granville Road, Blackpool. Harold's father, Lewis John Shackleford, died on the 13th April 1917 at "Taranaki", Vernon Avenue, Blackpool. Probate Records show he left his entire estate of £900 5s 0d [£900.25 - equivalent to about £45,000 today - 2016] to his widow, Eleanor. (see Footnote below)

It is possible at some time the family had moved to Buxton where he could serve as a Minister, or that Harold's mother had retired to the town after her husband's death - hence the inclusion of their son's name on the Memorial. However, CWGC Records show that after the War Eleanor was back living at 25 Drummond Avenue, Blackpool, where she died in the December quarter 1927.

Military History:
Harold enlisted into the 1st Battalion, the Wellington Regiment in New Zealand. At the time of his enlistment he was living in Oporua, Featherston, New Zealand. Unfortunately, Harold's Service papers, held in the 'New Zealand Defence Force, Personnel Archives' are marked "Restricted Access".

The New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) of just under 8500 men, all volunteers for overseas service drawn from the recently raised Territorial Force, sailed from home on the 14th October 1914 and on the way linked up with an Australian brigade. The original intention of sailing to England was changed, and together they arrived at Egypt on the 3rd December 1914.

On the 2nd February 1915 the NZEF were engaged in defending against a Tuirkish attack on the Suez Canal until the 1st April 1915 when the Division received orders to prepare to make an amphibious assault at Gallipoli. Harold embarked with the 4th Reinforcements from Wellington, New Zealand, on the 17th April 1915 on board either HMNZT 21 (Willochra); HMNZT 22 (Knight Templar) or HMNZT 23 (Waitomo) bound for Suez, Egypt. Meanwhile the Division landed at what was to become forever known as ANZAC Beach on the 25th April 1915.

On the 8th August 1915, in what was a key date for New Zealand history, the NZEF assaulted Chunuk Bair. Harold's Battalion lost 300 Officers and men on that day - almost all commemorated on the Chunuk Bair Memorial.

The New Zealand History of the Battle reads:
"The Auckland Battalion tried first and failed. The commander of the Wellington Battalion, [Lt. Col. William] Malone, refused to sacrifice his men in a daylight attack and insisted on waiting until night. Malone was a tough but respected commander from Taranaki who regularly put himself on the line for the welfare of his men. He allegedly told his superior, Brigadier-General Johnston: ‘We are not taking orders from you people … My men are not going to commit suicide.’

The Wellington Battalion occupied the summit before dawn on 8 August. With the sunrise came a barrage of fire from Turks holding higher ground to the north. A desperate struggle to hold Chunuk Bair ensued. It was not until after dark that reinforcements, the Otago Battalion and the Wellington Mounted Rifles, arrived. By then only 70 Wellington Battalion men remained out of 760. Malone had been killed by an Allied shell at about 5 p.m. The New Zealanders were relieved on the night of 9/10 August by British battalions, but these quickly succumbed to a counter-attack led by Mustafa Kemal, who was to become the founding President of Turkey." [Lt. Col. William Malone was killed in action later in the day - 8 August 1915.]

The Battalion withdrew from Gallipoli in late 1915 and reformed as the New Zealand Division in February and March 1916. In April 1916 the New Zealand Division moved to France and remained there for the rest of the War gaining a reputation as being among the best of the formations under British command, fighting in many of the major actions of the war including The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, 15th - 22nd September 1916, a phase in The Battle of the Somme, which began on the 1st July 1916.

From the 15th to 22nd September 1916 the New Zealand Division attacked and captured a heavily fortified German position, known as the 'Switch Line', located between High Wood and Flers. On the 16th the German counter-attack was repulsed.

Harold was one of 94 Officers and men from the 1st Battalion to be killed in action during this Battle - 14 on the 17th September. All but 17 of the men have no known grave and are commemorated with Harold on the New Zealand Memorial at Caterpillar Valley.

· In addition to being a Minister, Harold's father, Lewis John, was also a Geologist and a Malacologist, (a scientist who studies Mollusca mollusks).
  His book "The Story of the Great Ice-Age in the Ribble Valley and the Fylde" has the Preface: " Reverend Lewis J. Shackleford was the Honarary
  Secretary of the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. In the early 1900s his residence was "Taranaki", Vernon Avenue, Blackpool."
  Some of his collection (especially Marginella) is exhibitted in the Manchester Museum Mollusc section.

· I am grateful to Grant Tobin for the photo of Harold's grave
· New Zealand War Graves Project
· New Zealand Online War Memorial, Nominal Roll Vol 1, Page: 653

Link to CWGC Record
The Caterpillar Valley Memorial
Pt Harold Shackleford's name on the Memorial
.... about the Battle of Flers-Courcelette