WW1 John Alfred Shirtcliffe

John Alfred Shirtcliffe [1]

Lance-Corporal John Alfred Shirtcliffe, was the only son of Mr J and Mrs Elizabeth Shirtcliffe, of Lillington Road, Remuera, was born 26 June 1896.

He was educated at the Newton West and Remuera schools in Auckland. He served in the military cadets and when he enlisted on 22 August 1916, he was apprenticed as a trainee painter to Kerkin and Company, Remuera. [1]

He was a Private with 20th Reinforcements, Auckland Infantry Battalion, A Company, New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He was 20 years old, 5ft 11 inches, fair complexion, blue eyes and brown hair and on 9 September 1916, he was promoted to Lance Corporal. He sailed on the ‘Port Lyttelton’ on 7 Dec 1916 and arrived on 18 February 1917 in Plymouth, Devon, England. He was twice wounded, the first time on 22 June 1917 and again on 13 August 1917. He re-joined his Unit after recovery on both occasions.

John Alfred Shirtcliffe [2]

On the 4 October 1917, the New Zealanders’ objective was Gravenstafel Spur, the first of two spurs from the main ridge at Passchendaele (the other was Bellevue Spur) in Belgium. Once again artillery played a big part in the success of the attack, which was made by Brigadier-General Charles Melvill’s 1st Brigade and Brigadier-General Herbert Hart’s 4th Brigade. Although the going was difficult — ‘The mud is a worse enemy than the German’, divisional commander Sir Andrew Russell complained — the New Zealand troops advanced 1000 m to secure the spur and consolidate their position. More than 1000 prisoners were taken, but the attack was costly. Among the New Zealand Division’s 1600 casualties, some 500 men had been killed or mortally wounded.

John Alfred Shirtcliffe [3]

John Alfred Shirtcliffe [4]

On 4 October 1917, John Shirtcliffe was killed in action in Ypres, Belgium. He was 21 years old. [2]

There are memorials to Lance Corporal John Alfred Shirtcliffe at

• Tyne Cot Memorial, Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium AWMM

• Remuera Primary School memorial gates

• Point Chevalier RSA, 1136 Great North Road, Auckland 1022 AWMM

• Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand Apse, Panel 2