Henry William Sheppard (1877-1917)
Gardener, Central Parks
Henry William Sheppard was born on 9 April 1877 to Elizabeth Sheppard in Kensington, Middlesex and on 29 April 1877 he was baptised at St Clement, Notting Hill. On 1 August 1897 Henry, then of 7 Tobin Square, married Genta Taylor, of 22 Mary Place, in St Clement, Notting Hill. By 1911 Henry was employed by the Office of Works as a gardener at Kensington Gardens and was living with his family of wife and four sons at 10 Tobin Street, North Kensington. By the time Henry was called up a fifth son had been born.
Henry was attested into the army on 12 December 1915 and was immediately put into the army reserve. It was not until 1 September 1916 that Henry was mobilised and posted to the 2/5th Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment’s depot, probably at Canterbury. He was only there two weeks before being posted on again to the British Expeditionary Force at Etaples in France via Folkestone and Boulogne. On 16 September Henry was posted to 1st Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment who were at the time based at Berlencourt for rest and training. Two days later, the regimental war diary recorded on the 18th, “a draft of 248 OR’s arrived, bringing up the fighting strength of the Bn to 828 OR’s”. On the night of 2/3 October 1917, the battalion was billeted at Bedford House, south of Ypres and was being prepared for moving to the front line at Observatory Ridge. On 4 October at 5.30 am the battalion was prepared for an assault on the enemy. At 6.00 am the attack began and by 07.45 am had achieved their objectives set out in the battle plan, but there were reports of “very severe casualties. This and the additional fact that right flank was exposed made the situation appear very grave”. By the end of the day the battalion had suffered 450 ordinary rank casualties. Private 241651 Henry William Sheppard was one of these.
His grave is located at Hooge Crater Cemetery, Belgium; grave reference VII.L.4.