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First Name: Edwin Heaton Last Name: SHIELDS
Date of Death: 29/10/1918 Lived/Born In: East Sheen
Rank: Lance Corporal Unit: Royal West Surrey (Queens)2
Memorial Site:

Current Information:

Age-30

16, Carlton Road, East Sheen

Tezze British Cemetery, Italy

 

In the autumn of 1917, while the British Army was locked into the gargantuan struggle at Ypres, known to history as the Battle of Passchendaele, their Italian allies were in danger of being completely overwhelmed after their crushing defeat at the Battle of Caporetto. The fighting here, also known as the 12th Battle of Isonzo, had seen a decisive victory for the Austrians and their German allies, with the Italians suffering enormous casualties in terms of killed, wounded, missing and desertions and having their front pushed back sixty miles in places to the River Piave. The Italians appealed to their French and British allies and it was decided to send troops, the Italian Expeditionary Force (IEF) to assist the hard pressed Italians. The British Army sent the 5th, 7th, 23rd, 41st and 48th Division to Italy during that autumn. The move south to sunnier and warmer climes from the mud and squalor of Flanders was welcomed by these troops but it was not always the picnic they hoped it would be and there was some hard fighting in store for some of them.

7th Division remained on the Italian front until the end of the war and as 1918 progressed, the Italians, like their allies further north on the Western Front, were able to go on the offensive. Between 26th-31st October, 7th Division were involved in the operation which saw the Italians crossing the Rivers Piave and Monticano, about twenty miles north of Treviso. The 2nd Royal West Surrey (Queens) battalion were in reserve when 91 Brigade attacked on 27th October, reaching as far as Borgo Belussi by the following morning. That night 2nd Queens took over the brigade front and advanced the line to the Vazzola-Rei railway. On 29th October they moved forward towards Gajarine (Gaiarine) but got held up by machine-guns when crossing the River Monticano. Once this passage had been forced the advanced continued for 500 yards without meeting much resistance but after that the opposition stiffened. The countryside here was very close, made up mainly by maize fields with narrow paths running through them all of which were covered by enemy machine-guns. To add to the battalions problems, they lost contact with the units of 20 Brigade advancing on their right and around midday the enemy began working round their exposed right flank. Further problems were averted by the arrival of 1st South Staffordshire and together the two battalions captured the village of Cimetta (Cimavilla). The following morning, 30th October, 22 Brigade took over from 91 Brigade. 2nd Queens suffered just over 100 casualties during this operation, one of whom was Edwin Shields who was killed in action on 29th October.

 

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