Airborne Engineers Association

John Shave

 

 

Major (Retd) John Shave MC

 

John was selected to attend No.2 Royal Engineers University Short Course (2 RESC). He went up to Emmanuel College, Cambridge in April 1941 and read the whole of the First Year Tripos in Mechanical Sciences in two terms. He was commissioned on 5 April 1942 and posted to 3rd Parachute Squadron RE, 6th Airborne Division.

John jumped into Normandy at 00.50 hrs on D-Day 1944, and was dropped, unfortunately, on the wrong DZ, which considerably increased the distance to his target.

As Section Officer, 6 Section, 2 Troop, he blew up a road bridge at Bures sur Dives and then for the next eight days was engaged in offensive patrolling between Le Mesnil and Troarn under command 9th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. For this and demolishing the bridge at Bures he was awarded the Military Cross.

When Capt Tim Jukes MC RE, Troop Captain 2 Troop, was KIA John Shave was promoted to replace him and continued in that appointment in The Ardennes, Holland, The Rhine Crossing, and Germany. After VE Day he went to the Far East with his unit.

Memories of those days are recorded in his book 'Go To It', the unit history of 3 Para Sqn RE, which was republished in 2003 to part fund the setting up of the Col John Rock Room at the RE Museum, Chatham and thus commemorate the Founder of our Airborne Forces.

Post war amongst other things he served in India and Pakistan, was OC of a Field Company in Malta, and an Instructor at Sandhurst.
He retired in August 1977 and was employed at Imperial War Museum; also he was a strong supporter of Downton Branch of the Royal British Legion. John also organised 6ABRE's annual Normandy Pilgrimages for over sixty years, and their annual Dinner.

A picture of John Shave having just received his D+50 years Badge at Troarn in 2004.

His funeral service took place in St Lawrence's Church, Downton, on 19th October 2009. His coffin was then interred in the parish cemetery. It was an occasion with a significant military presence; which was most befitting for an airborne soldier who, as a member of 3rd Parachute Squadron, R.E., had parachuted into Normandy on D Day. He was again honoured in this final act of farewell by the presence of his old wartime comrades and others who had also participated in "Operation Overlord".

Those also present to honour him at his funeral were members of the AEA, REA, NVA, PRA, the British Legion and a serving officer from 9 Parachute Squadron RE. Six Standards were 'on parade'. The AEA piper played laments and a French bugler sounded the "last post" and the "reveille".

The Reverend Frank Grimson conducted the service and John's son, Paul, gave the eulogy. Representatives of the AEA and the British Legion gave two readings. Adding to the large Service element of the congregation were John's family and his many friends and neighbours from Downton; ensuring that this large church was pleasingly filled.

In recent years, members of the Aldershot AEA have renewed the "Old Contemptible" tradition of wearing poppies when attending the funerals of our Association friends and these were dropped onto John's coffin as we stood at his graveside to pay our last respects. This final act completed the next RV was the local hostelry; where we were able to quench our thirsts rest and say our goodbyes to Peggy Shave and the other members of John's family.

Sincere thanks are expressed to all AEA members who attended; especially our wartime veterans, our Piper and those from the Chatham branch.

 

 

 

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