55217 Captain William Shelley Herbert, MC was born 5 June 1896 in London, England to Henry Herbert and Florence Mary Rich. In 1910 Herbert immigrated to Canada and by 1914 he had joined the Queen’s Own Rifles.
On 10 November 1914, along with many other men from the Queen’s Own, he enlisted for active service in the 19th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force listing his trade at the time as Traveller.
Arriving in France in September 1916 Herbert was promoted to Lieutenant on 17 October 1916. The 19th Battalion fought as part of the 2nd Canadian Division and was present at the battles of Thiepval, Le Transloy, Ancre Heights, Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, Passchendaele and the First Battle of the Somme. On 8 August 1918, while leading his men during the Battle of Amiens, Herbert was shot by a machine-gun and injured by a grenade. Among other injuries he eventually lost his left arm and was invalided back to Canada. For his actions at Amiens he was awarded the Military Cross, the citation reads as follows:
MILITARY CROSS 4.10.18 2nd Div. Order 4299
For conspicuous courage and devotion to duty. He was in charge of a company during and attack. Hearing that part of his line was held up by heavy machine-gun fire, he personally led an assault on the post, in which act he was severely wounded. His gallantry and example instilled confidence in his men, and the objective was gained.
Upon return to Canada and completion of recuperation from his injuries Herbert was employed as a Bondsman. In 1920 Herbert married Winnifred Alice Fleming, they had two children a boy and a girl. Despite having only one arm he appears to have rejoined the Queen’s Own and served until at least 1927 with the regiment. Herbert died 29 January 1974 and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto along with Winnifred.
Herbert’s son, Lieutenant William Grant Herbert, MC also served with the Queen’s Own during WWII and was awarded a Military Cross for his actions on D-Day.