John Shea


About John

  • Name
  • Initials
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
  • Birth town
    Bedwellty, Ebbw Vale, Monmouthshire
  • Resided town
    Merthyr Tydfil
  • Commemorated
  • Nationality
  • Place of death
    Holywell, Flintshire
  • Date of death
  • Married
  • Occupation

Service Information

  • Army

  • Service Number
  • Rank
  • Regiment
    Royal Defence Corps
  • Battalion
    Heavy Section


Three men of the Royal Defence Corps (MGC) were travelling together and passed through Peterborough on 1 August 1917, Sergeant Shea, Private Lewis and Private Garlin.  The RDC was formed in 1917 of soldiers too old for the front, who could guard ports, main roads and railway yards.

John Shea was the son of Irish immigrants Michael and Mary Shea from Tipperary.  He was born in Bedwellty, Ebbw Vale, Monmouthshire in 1878, his parents had a further four children.  By 1891, the family had moved to 5 Chapel Row, Myrthyr Tydfil and 14 year old John had started work as a plasterer and moulder.

On 4 February 1896, (possibly his 18th birthday) John enlisted to the South Wales Borderers and after initial training, joined the 2nd Battalion in May that year.  The following January he transferred to the 1st Battalion and went to Gibraltar.   From there he moved to India on 22 November where he stayed for the next six years, returning to the UK in January 1904.  On completion of his scheduled twelve year’s service, he signed up for four more years in February 1904 and was subsequently discharged on 3 February 1912 aged 34.  In 1909, he had married Emily Ayers at Merthyr Tydfil Registry Office.

After army service he worked as a miner but re-enlisted on 16 September 1914, with the 9th Battalion Welsh Regiment, and went to France in July 1915.  On 4 July 1916, he received a gunshot wound to his right hand and five days later returned to the UK for treatment.  As a consequence of his injury, he was transferred in January 1917 to the Western Command Depot of the Military Foot Police (MFP) in Cardiff, and was promoted to Lance Corporal.

In August 1917, Sergeant John Shea passed through Peterborough East Station and signed the visitors’ book as one of ‘we three of the RDC’ (Royal Defence Corps).  The RDC and MFP were both employed on home defence duties.  He was discharged in January 1919.  By 1925 he sought a disability pension for his hand injury and bronchitis and gave his address as 13 Chapel Street, Pontlottyn, Glamorgan.

It is thought that he died in 1933 aged 55.

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