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Lieutenant William Edward Dudley Shortt


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Bleuet Farm British Cemetery Grave I.A.22

1st Battalion Scots Guards, 2nd Guards Brigade, Guards Division

Age 24

KIA 12.10.17

The only son of Rt Hon. Edward Shortt, KC Liberal MP for Newcastle upon Tyne West, 1910 to 1922 and Home Secretary in David Lloyd George's cabinet from 1919 to 22. He married Isabella Stewart Scott and they had one son. They lived at 140 Oakwood Court, Kensington. His appointment to chair a Select committee to review the operation of the Military Service Acts proved to be the turning-point in his political career. The public hearings of this committee, with witness after witness coming forward to tell stories of medical and administrative chaos, caused a major political storm, and sounded the end of the old system. In August 1917 the committee produced a report whose main recommendation was the transfer of medical examinations of recruits from the War Office to a civilian authority.

 

Early Life

William, known as Dudley, was born on 23 October 1892 in Middlesex and was educated at Charterhouse and then sought entry to the Military college at Sandhurst however, he was rejected due to poor eyesight. He then took up employment with Furness, Withy, and Company a major British transport business. Despite his earlier rejection for entry to Sandhurst William enlisted in the 5th Battalion East Surry Regiment with the rank of private. On completion of his training he went with the battalion to India. It was while serving in India that his commanding officer saw enough in William to recommend him for officer training and he returned to the UK were he completed his training and in December 1915 was commissioned in the Scots Guards with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and joined the battalion in France in on 1 April 1916. He was wounded in December 1916 on the Somme. On 11 July as assistant adjutant he took over the role of adjutant when the officer in the post moved to Brigade HQ. At this time the battalion was preparing for their part in the opening attack of Third Ypres at Boesinghe.

War Diary recording his appointment as adjutant

His Death

The Battalion was not involved in the First Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October and were engaged in making their camp at Wood 15 and Battalion HQ at Saules Farm habitable.

Linesman Map

There was heavy shelling at Saules Farm during the afternoon which caused two dead and six wounded. William was one of the dead. He was due to go on home leave the next day and to attend a dinner party in London. His Colonel wrote that: ‘Dudley was loved by everyone in the battalion, officers and men, and he indeed can ill be spared. He was absolutely fearless and a splendid officer.

War Diary recording his death

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