Donald Patrick Shaw

The life of Donald Patrick Shaw is one that we have been researching because of the centenary of the start of the Great War.

Shaw was the son of Rev Alfred Edward Shaw who was headmaster of the school from 1899 to 1920. He was born on 29 Mar 1888 in Melcombe Regis, Dorset when his father was teaching at Weymouth College. In 1899 Alfred was appointed Headmaster and Donald was enrolled in the school as a pupil aged 11. He left in 1907. After leaving LWGS, Donald went up to Balliol in Sept 1907 to study Modern History; he was a keen rower and took bow in the winning Morrisons Four at the College. He was also a Lance Corporal in the University OTC.

In 1908, he was one of the Founders of the Old Tamensians Association (the Old Boys for LWGS).

He graduated from Balliol in 1910 with a 2nd in Modern History and decided to follow his father into the teaching profession and went to Weymouth College as a Form Master. He stayed here for two years but in 1912 Shaw was appointed an Assistant Housemaster at Westminster School

In 1914 he was awarded his MA but with the outbreak of War he enlisted with the Dorset Regiment as a 2nd Lt.

His Medal Record shows he was sent to France in July 1915. He was seriously wounded in the neck and spine shortly thereafter and then nearly drowned when on the hospital ship Anglia which was mined off Dover. After a partial recovery Captain Shaw was gazetted Major after a period of study at the 4th Army School in France in 1916.

On 7th September 1918, Shaw was promoted to acting Lt Colonel while commanding a Battalion and in 1918 Shaw was awarded the DSO for gallantry during an attack in Ancre in France; he was also mentioned in despatches. Besides winning a DSO, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star and the British War Medal, and Victory Medal

After the War, Shaw resumed teaching at Westminster in early 1919 and was appointed House Master of Grant’s. Shaw also commanded the Westminster School OTC. In the summer holidays of 1919 he married Maud Vivian Stephens in Oxford. She was the daughter of Thomas Albertus Stephens, HMI of Schools. (Maud had been born in Manchester around 1894. Her mother and father were both Welsh.)

His rank of Lt Colonel was relinquished on 27th October 1920 and he reverted to Major.

A daughter, Joan P.V. Shaw, was born in 1922 and that same year he was an usher at the royal wedding of Princess Mary in Westminster Abbey in February 1922.

However Shaw had never recovered from his wounds. After the War he had several operations and eventually he  died at the Empire Nursing Home in Westminster on October 9th 1924 – his home address at the time was 2 Little Dean’s Yard, Westminster.

His funeral service was held at Westminster Abbey on 14th October with full military honours. His coffin was borne on a six-horse gun-carriage. At the graveside in Norwood Cemetery, volleys were fired and the Last Post sounded by soldiers of the Grenadier Guards. (Records show that Maud had purchased the plot on 12th October for £15 15s – it was a little more than usual as she purchased a slightly oversized plot.) She had the following written on his grave, ‘To my dearly beloved husband Donald Patrick Shaw DSO, late Major 6th Dorsetshire Regiment, House Master Westminster School, died of wounds received in France in 1915.” The grave was dug 10′ deep, so it is likely that Maud was expecting more burials to go in the plot.

(A memorial plaque can also be seen at Balliol College in the Chapel Passage, over the Gate to the Fellows’ Garden.)

In his will Shaw left £6936 to his wife.

Two weeks later, she gave birth to his son, Donald John. Like his father Donald John also joined the Army and served with RAC, 17th/21st Lancers in Palestine. He was killed in 1947, and an inscription was added to his father’s gravestone, “In memory of his son Donald John Edward Shaw, died April 9th 1947, Buried in Ramleh Cemetery Palestine”

Maud did not remarry but moved to north west London. She died 10th July 1960 at her home 120 Murray Road, Northwood Middx, leaving her estate (a considerable £33699) to her daughter (a spinster) Joan Patricia Vivian Shaw. (Joan lived with her mother.) Maud was buried in the Shaw plot in Norwood.

We believe that Joan was a GP and that she died in the early 2000s.

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