Shackleton, Arthur

Arthur Shackleton, according to the Commonwealth War Graves , was age 29 when he died in 1942, making him born circa 1913.    I have no definitive date of birth for him as the 1911 census was the last census published and although I find his parents and some siblings, he doesn’t appear on public records that I can find until he and his brothers Ernest and Wilfred are recorded in School Registers:-

Custom House Lane School Registers

3017 Admitted 30th August 1920 SHACKLETON, Ernest 21st November 1908 7, Wepre View, C.Q.

3018 Admitted 30th August 1920 SHACKLETON, Arthur 21stOctober 1911 7, Wepre View, C.Q.

3019 Admitted 30th August 1920 SHACKLETON, Wilfred 16th June 1913 7, Wepre View, C.Q.

This then tells us that he was born on the 21st August 1911, so there is a discrepancy.   I have to take the view that the School would be right.

The next time I see Arthur is when he married Priscilla Annie Higgins  in a Civil Ceremony at Holywell in 1934, his father is recorded as George Ernest Shackleton, an Assurance Agent. (Flintshire (Mold)HOL/55/121)

Arthur’s father George Ernest Shackleton and his mother Alice Adelaide M Killip, had married in North Bierley, (The district N.Bierley is an alternative name for North Bierley and it is in the county of West Riding of Yorkshire) in 1908. (N. Bierley Vol.  9b Page 299).

This is not exactly confirmed in George Ernest’s Attestation Papers, (which I have and will send if you would like them) as when he was in WW1, these papers show the marriage taking place in Bradford, Yorkshire on the 17th February 1907, but the information, supplied by the recruit, states – Not verified by Certificate.   So perhaps George Ernest had forgotten when and where he had married.   However everything else, name  of his bride and children etc are correct to my knowledge.

I find George Ernest and Alice on the 1939 National Register, taken on the 29th September 1939, living in Aston Hall Lane, Hawarden:-

Shackleton Household (5 People)

Salfone Aston Hall Lane , Hawarden R.D., Flintshire, Wales

George E             Shackleton          16 Oct 1880         Male      Assurance Agent Married            184         1

Alice A M             Shackleton          7 Dec 1879           Female Unpaid Domestic Duties               Married 184        2

Ernest   Shackleton          21 Nov 1908        Male      Crane Driver Steel Works             Single    184         3

Sorry, this record is officially closed. Check if you can open a closed record.

Sorry, this record is officially closed. Check if you can open a closed record.

However, I cannot find Arthur or Priscilla, of course, Arthur could already be in the Army as war was declared on the 3rd September 1939 and Priscilla could be at her parent’s home, but I cannot find them locally.

Arthur throughout his Army Career in his Attestation Registers for the Royal Artillery doesn’t give a date, in fact very little is written except his name and number, the only other thing that is written is- “Died 2/3/42 H.A.A/S.”   I did try to find out from the WW2 Talk Forum, but they couldn’t pin it down, after going to a lot of trouble to find out, so I am grateful to them.

There are Casualty Lists and also a Casualty card that states that Arthur died at sea, but the lists seem to suggest he was on land.    Page No 233 states “Not Thailand,” so they had tried to find him there.  Another 198? Shows how the Army had tried to find out what had happened to these men, with notes explaining their fate – states by his name –”Nothing Known.”  Page 793 (9) shows list of man who were missing on the 15th February 1942.  List (14) shows “Previously Posted Missing 15.2.1942 – Malaya now Presumed Killed in Action.”

As I said previously in my efforts to tell his story I asked for help from WW2 Talk Forum and their wonderful members relied, and below is a compilation of their replies and I will be forever grateful  for their expertise.

Tim -“Don’t get confused with the place of death being Malaya. This refers to Malaya Command, which encompasses the Far East Theatre of War, and doesn’t necessarily mean Malaya, as in the country. There must be some information out there to establish why the Casualty Card is marked ‘at Sea’ finding it is another matter. The Missing Personnel files show the length to which the authorities went to establish what happened to missing people and these files can be very large. For the future you may care to take a note of Royal Artillery 1939-45 this shows all the RA Regiments in WW2 and shows how careful you have to be with the Regiment’s title. You will see that as well as the 3rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment there were many other 3rd Regiments – Field Artillery, Medium Artillery, Heavy Artillery, Super Heavy Artillery and Light Anti-Aircraft Artillery. 

If he was in Java and died there, as so many did, there was so much confusion at the time that records in many cases were compiled shortly after and this may explain the date of death not being accurately known, hence the 2/3 Mar 1942. 

It seems that he was in Singapore when it fell on 15 Feb 42. If the dying at sea is correct, it may be that he had escaped from Singapore to Sumatra and was on an evacuation ship from somewhere like Padang, many of which were sunk. Having said that the Royal Artillery list from Singapore lists him with the Notation OVL? (Overland ?), if he had escaped I would have expected it to say M (Missing). The answer may lie in the files WO 361/247 and 361/249 (3rd HAA Missing personnel) but unfortunately I don’t have copies. 

Pat WALKER – Dear Mavis, Following on from your post addressed to me. You seem to have a lot of info but mixed up and confusing the search. 3 AA Div was UK based. It would seem he may have been in 11 Bty of 3 HAA.

My book was about 6th HAA Regt who had three Batteries numbered 3,12 and 15 and he did not feature in my book or researches on this unit.. There are quite a lot of units starting with the number 3 from main units to attached such as signals or searchlights. You have to be very sure which he was in if you wish to follow up his career.  Noting his date of death seems to suggest he was in Java and may have been killed there..  

I think the records show he died in Malaya Command area and the ‘at sea’ bit has been corrected later.  Malaya command encompassed the whole of Sumatra, Java etc not just the country of Malaya.    

Your best bet is to try and acquire his service records from Historical Disclosures in Scotland. Though there is no guarantee they will show very much they may reveal a little more of his service travels.

If he was in Java and died there, as so many did, there was so much confusion at the time that records in many cases were compiled shortly after and this may explain the date of death not being accurately known, hence the 2/3 Mar 1942.” 

Enigma1003 tells us – In the 3 HAA Regimental File,(corrected from 6 HAA) it appears his location or whereabouts are totally unknown, as it states ” ? Not Thai”  (see below)

Sadly Arthur’s story of what happened and how he suffered will probably never be told, but his story is one of hundreds of thousands that suffered for us all and we must make sure their stories are told.

Another Connah’s Quay Soldier, Thomas William Rabone was also captured in the Fall of Singapore on the 15th February 1942 and is also commemorated on the Singapore Memorial, but his death was in 1944.   He has even more Casualty Lists , please click on his name to read his story.

Also William Leonard Burrows who is remembered on the Hawarden War Memorial was a Japanese Prisoner of War and died in Japan, he is buried at the Yokohama War Cemetery after cremation, please click on the link to read his story.

Arthur is also remembered on the Hawarden War Memorial.

Arthur’s family made sure that he would be remembered as he was well loved and we must all remember them for their sacrifice for us all.


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Connahs Quay and Shotton War Memorial

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