Francis Cunningham Shapira

August 4, 2015

SHAPIRA, Francis Cunningham- – – SPC 1904

DoB:- – 30 July, 1887 London, England

Father: – Rev Alexander William Shapira

Mother:- – Theresa Elvina

Frank Shapira was born in London, and migrated with his family to Hobart, Tasmania, when he was about ten years old. He was a boarder at St Patrick’s College from Georgetown, Tasmania. He was a keen athlete and a member of the 1st XVIII football team which won the premiership in 1904.

Service No:- 1258

Rank:- – 2nd Lieutenant

Unit:- – 18th Battalion, later 69th Squadron, Australian Flying Corps (AFC)

Frank Shapira enlisted on 2 March 1915. He was 26 years and seven months old, five feet and one quarter inches tall, and had a dark complexion, grey eyes and black hair. His occupation was given as station overseer.

Corporal Shapira embarked at Sydney aboard the Ceramic on 25 June 1915 and arrived at Gallipoli in mid-August. He suffered a gunshot wound on 21 August and was admitted to hospital on the Greek island of Lemnos. By 28 September he had rejoined his unit at Gallipoli. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on 2 October and remained on the Turkish Peninsula until the Anzac evacuation in December 1915.

He returned to England and after some months of rest, proceeded to France. He was wounded for the second time, sustaining a shrapnel wound to his scalp, and was admitted to the field hospital in Wimereux. By 5 June he was transferred to hospital in England.

Sergeant Shapira marched out on 4 November 1916 to the 5th Training Battalion, to undertake a course at the Instruction School. In December he joined the Australian Flying Corps. After another seven months of wireless and observation training, he was assigned to the 69th Squadron, AFC on 11 July 1917.

A disastrous event occurred one month later, when Lieutenant Shapira was killed as a result of an aeroplane accident while training at Biggin Hill, Westerham on 21 August 1917 –

-‘-¦ the deceased met his death through the aeroplane nose diving and catching fire, the Lieut and Mechanic being pinned to the ground, and unable to extricate themselves from the ruins. An inquest was held at Biggin Hill on 23 August 1917, when the Coroner’s Jury returned the following verdict -“ Killed through an aeroplane nose diving to earth, and by misadventure -¦’

He was buried with full military honours at Brookwood Cemetery, Australian Military Burial Ground (Consecrated portion), on 25 August 1917.

Frank’s personal effects were returned to his mother in Tasmania, and included three keys, one book of stamps, one small chain, one threepenny piece, two coins, one penny, one diary, one aviation certificate, five snapshots and- visiting cards. These effects were -‘received at the AIF Kit Store in their present condition, that is, damaged by fire’. What a macabre reminder of how her son died, when she received this package.