b. 1827 Cardiff, Wales. d. 23/12/1864 Bombay, India.
Robert Shields (1827-1864) is notable in that he is the first Welsh born recipient of the VC, having been born in 1827 in the Hope and Anchor Inn, 41 St Mary Street, Cardiff. We know he was baptised in Cardiff on 26th August 1827, but his exact birth date is unknown. Little is known of his early life except that his father was the publican of the Hope and Anchor. As a young man, he enlisted with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and would shortly afterwards be sent to the Crimean Peninsula to serve his country.
On 8th September 1855, during the assault on the Redan, Corporal Shields volunteered to go out with Assistant Surgeon William Henry Thomas Sylvester to an exposed and dangerous part of the front, to bring in an officer who was wounded, and was afterwards found to be mortally so.
On 24th February 1857, Robert Shields was one of the first men to be gazetted for the Victoria Cross in the London Gazette. Later that year, he was one of the 62 men who were presented to Queen Victoria in Hyde Park on 26th June 1857. Following his service in the Crimea, he served in India during the Mutiny, and on leaving the Army he chose to remain in the country.
Sadly, like many servicemen and later ex-servicemen, he was afflicted by the perils of alcohol. Sadly, on 23rd December 1864, aged just 37, he died in Bombay (now Mumbai), India with the cause of death listed as “delirium tremens” or severe withdrawal from alcohol. He was buried in an unmarked grave in St Thomas’ Cathedral in Bombay. His medals are not publicly held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: ST THOMAS CATHEDRAL, BOMBAY, INDIA. (UNMARKED GRAVE).
Thomas Stewart – Image of Shields VC name on the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum Honours Board.