William Shepherd was born on 30 November 1908 in Plumstead, Kent – the only child of William James Shepherd and Olive Camilla Hopper. He married Winifred Imrie in December 1938 and a son was born to them in April 1941. He was killed in February 1945 when the ship he was serving aboard was sunk.
HMTS ‘Alert’ was torpedoed and sank in the English Channel while repairing the Dumpton Gap-La Panne cable on the 24th February 1945 with the loss of all 53 officers and crew, 1 civilian and 6 members of the Royal Navy.
Chief Officer Evans of the ‘Alert’, who had been on leave when she was sunk, later flew over the wreck, discovering that she was split in two, with the two sections at an angle to each other, the bow pointing north and the stern half to the east. At around 10.30 to 11.00 on the fatal morning, the official report stated that the Alert may have been torpedoed, or may have struck a mine unretrieved by the minesweepers. “Seehunds” were operative off Ramsgate that morning.
Three bodies, with death probably caused by exposure, were later discovered from a raft which drifted ashore at De Haan, Belgium. They were probably 2nd Officer J Dixon, Chief Engineer H C Fisher, also from Dover, and L C Taws, the 4th Officer. One body, that of Norman MacLeod, was recovered from the sea and now lies at Calais. There were also two bodies washed up at Harwich.
See The Dover War Memorial Project for a list of those killed.