Albert Shield lives in the hope that the unsolved mystery surrounding his brave uncle will become clear in his lifetime.
Albert (79), of Mayblossom Walk, Spalding, has been piecing together the story of his family ever since an aunt mentioned one of her brothers was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal during the First World War.
That was George Shield who lived with his parents and siblings at Littleworth, near Deeping St Nicholas.
George was one of 14, including Albert’s father, Baden, and was one of the four brothers who served in the war.
They were Fred, who went on to live at West Pinchbeck, remarkably surviving the war without a single injury.
Bertie lied about his age and was actually 16 when he went to war.
Albert recalls: “Bertie told me in later years how he got wounded. He went over the top in one of those massacres and he said he was haring along with his rifle and bayonet, and he had got about 100 yards out from his lines when he felt a blow on his leg. He carried on running a few steps, but his leg had gone above the knee, so he must have been hit by a large piece of shrapnel.”
Luckily he was close enough to his own lines to be rescued, which saved his life. Albert says after the war Bertie trained to become a cobbler and spent the rest of his life in Derby.
Walter, whose son lives in Boston, was severely gassed and blinded.
However it is George’s story that fascinated Albert and led to his family research.
George, a regular soldier, finished up as drum major of the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. He went to France with his battalion as a drummer and, because he was a fine shot with a rifle, he trained as a sniper.
George was the first man from south Lincolnshire during the war to be awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal.
His citation reads: ‘For conspicuous gallantry at Neave Chapelle in going out alone from his trench and shooting four German snipers who had been causing much damage.’
Interviewed by this newspaper in 1915, the modest hero explained: “What you do is only in your duty.
“The Germans were shelling the woods we were in. I was acting as observer to the colonel when I was hit by shrapnel, getting six wounds in the left leg and one in the right ankle.”
After the war, he went to Southampton, where his wife and young child lived, and was never heard of again, despite an appeal by one of his brothers some years later.
Albert said: “I would dearly love to find some of his relations who must be around somewhere before I fall off my perch. I would really like to get in touch with someone. It would just make the story complete.”