E.H.C. Shepard was a fire guard who was mortally wounded during an enemy aerial attack on Newport in the morning of 7 April 1943 and who died of those wounds at St Mary's Hospital on 9 April.
Some confusion exists regarding Shepard's first name, records deviate between Edward, Edwin and Eden, the second and third Christian names are known with clarity Harold Cecil and it seems to be that he was generally known by the latter of these two.
Cecil was born on 1 December 1900 in Newport. The 1911 Census identified him living with his father Edward James, a baker, his mother Alice Mary, his elder brother Artie (Arthur) Henry Edward who at 16 was working as a butcher's assistant and his younger sister 7 year old Nellie Dorothy May. They resided at 18 New Street.
Cecil's working life took him to Morey's where he worked as a valued wood machinist for over 26 years. In 1928 he married Constance Elizabeth Cant and the pair were located at 33 Albert Street, Newport when the hurriedly taken register was carried out in September 1939.
Cecil took on the duties of fire-watcher for the Morey's site and when this evolved in to the more formal Fire Guard scheme he remained on the watch. Regarded by many as the most tedious of duties, long hours often spent inactive, things would rapidly change when the siren sounded and enemy aircraft were in the vicinity.
At approximately 08:00 in the morning of 7 April 1943 a squadron of German tip-and-run raiders swooped on Newport after approaching at high speed and low level over Sandown Bay, Arreton and Burnt House valley. It was a deliberate attack on the civilian population as evidenced in the diary of one of the Luftwaffe pilots involved in the raid. Whether on that morning Cecil was busy in the timber shop or on duty as a Fire Guard we can't be sure, but the bomb that struck the site caused him terrible injuries and he was rapidly conveyed to St Mary's.
For around 48 hours medical staff battled to save his life but to no avail. The funeral was held at St John's where Cecil had been a long time member of the bible class. In the aftermath his parents placed an acknowledgement in the 24 April edition of the County Press in which they stated that they; wish to thank all friends and neighbours for sympathy shown them in the loss of their only son. Given that the 1911 Census clearly evidenced an elder brother it was in trepidation that I searched the Commonwealth War Graves Commission register and discovered that during the First World War his brother Arthur Edward Shepard was a Quartermaster Sergeant killed in action with the 3rd/2nd King's African Rifles on 4 July 1918.
After her husband's death Constance stated to the County Press; I am deeply grateful for many kindnesses to my late husband and myself by neighbours and other friends and to the doctors and staff at St Mary's Hospital, and to all sending messages of sympathy and floral tributes.
Rest in peace Fire Guard Shepard.