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A Sergeant Majors War

Ernest Arthur Shepard, 1892 - 1917

Ernest Shephard was born in Lyme Regis, the son of the town's photographer. He served in the Dorsetshire Regiment in the World War I, and wrote some interesting and pertinent diaries which after his death lay undisturbed for over sixty years. When discovered their historical significance was immediately recognised, and they were published with the title A Sergeant Major's War.

He enlisted in the Dorsetshire Regiment in 1909 at the age of 17, in August 1914 he was promoted Sergeant, serving with the 3rd Battalion at Wyke Regis, and in January 1915 he took a draft to the 1st Battalion then serving in France. Soon the Battalion was to be involved in the 2nd Battle of Ypres, and later moved to the Somme. Ernest Shephard was promoted Company Sergeant Major in May 1915, and later was granted a commission on 14/11/1916 being posted to the 5th Dorset's. As a Company Commander he was killed on 11/1/1917, and is buried in the Australian Cemetery at Flers, some distance away from the spot where he died.

Ernest Shephard was a fine regimental soldier, fiercely proud of his regiment. His greatest wish was to remain in the battle area as long as the war continued, and his regiment took an active part. He was a fine athlete being particularly good at cross country running and swimming.

A copy of his book is held within the Museum's Wood Library