Captain James Owen Williams Shine

Co. 70


Captain James Owen Williams Shine was born on 23rd April 1891 in Allahabad, India to James Matthew Shine C.B. R.A.M.C. & Kathleen Mary Williams. He was baptised on 8th May 1891 in the Catholic Church, Allahabad in the Presidency of Bengal. He had two brothers, who both fought and died in the Great War, and two sisters. James attended Downside School and the Royal Military College. He died on 16th August 1917. 

This is a copy of his baptismal certificate.

His Father Col. James Matthew Shine C.B. R.A.M.C. & His Mother Kathleen Mary Williams

James Matthew Shine (father) was born in Dungarvan on 26th October 1861. He attended Queens College Cork to study Medicine and graduated in July 1882. On April 11th 1883 he left home to sail to Clanwilliam, Cape Colony, South Africa to work with Dr. Seeport (presumably as an assistant doctor). He is shown in the Army lists as being in Burma in 1887 and in Bengal in 1889 and by then was married to Kathleen Williams. Kathleen was born in 1863 in Waterford. They were married on July 24th 1888 and then sailed to India on the ‘Euphrates’ from Queenstown.

Col. James Matthew Shine C.B. R.A.M.C

Kathleen Mary Williams

James's Brothers and Sisters

James's sister Kathleen ‘Kitty’ was born on 2nd August 1889 in Chumar, India. James Owen Williams Shine was born in Allahabad on 23rd April 1891. In 1891/1892 his father was posted home to Ireland and his sister Lillian Margaret ‘Peggy’ was born in Castlebar Co. Mayo on 17th November 1892. His father was then posted to Malta. His brother John Denis ‘Gozo’ was born in Malta on 10th September 1894 and Hugh Patrick, his youngest brother, was born in Malta on 20th August 1896. They remained in Malta until 1898 and then spent some time in Crete in 1899. By 1901 the family moved back to Ireland when his father was posted to South Africa where the Boer War was ongoing. They had army accommodation at Barrack Cross House, Cahir, Co. Tipperary.

Lillian Margaret ‘Peggy’ Shine

Kathleen Mary ‘Kitty’ Shine

John Denis Shine

Hugh Patrick Shine


James at Downside

In September 1902 James was sent to Downside, a Catholic School, near Bath. At Downside James was described as ‘an able boy, gifted with considerable eloquence and humour’. These qualities enabled him to become a successful actor on the Downside stage. In 1906 he passed the Lower Certificate. He passed the Higher Certificate in 1909. He also won a boxing competition that year, his cup is pictured here.

Royal Military College Sandhurst

After he had completed his Higher Certificate at Downside James applied to Military College. He went to Sandhurst in 1909. He studied subjects such as Military Tactics, Musketry, Engineering, Topography, Drill, Signalling and Hindustani. On completion of his course at Military College he was gazetted to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in 1910 and joined his battalion in India.

Form of Particulars

School Results

the war begins

Death of John ‘Gozo’ Shine 1914

The first of the Shine brothers to die was 2nd Lieutenant John Denis Shine of the 1st Royal Irish Regiment. ‘Gozo’ Shine also attended Downside School, participated in Downside Cricket, Association Football and Hockey teams. He became a Sergeant in the schools Officer Training Corps (OTC) and was a member of the schools library committee. In 1912 he attended Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Royal Irish Regiment in 1913. When war broke out he went to France and was wounded in the groin at Mons on 27th August 1914. It was reported that he was carried to a church which was used as a hospital. After his arrival the building was destroyed by shellfire killing all its occupants. However there is some uncertainty to this story as Colonel T.W. Fitzpatrick made a statement claiming that John was carried to a nearby cottage owned by a Belgian family where he was ‘barely conscious’. John smiled at him and he nodded in recognition. He spoke to a woman caring for him who told him a German doctor had seen him, however there was nothing they could do. John died within a few days of his 20th birthday. He is buried at Mons Community Cemetery.

James's Return to Europe in 1915

In 1914 James’s Battalion was stationed in Madras India. He wrote to his father in November 1914 saying that he would be returning to Europe in the coming weeks and hoped “we don’t get stuck in Egypt now that we seem to be at war with Turkey. That wouldn’t do at all. We would probably see very little fighting and in any case one likes to be in the big show. ……. I am auctioning most of my belongings not worth taking home at Oakes & Co., about the best place in Southern India, I’m told. …” On their return to England he was transferred to 2nd Battalion and luckily missed the slaughter of the 1st Battalion at Gallipoli in April 1915. James was detached to train newly recruited volunteers to the Service Battalions (7th & 9th RDF) in Fermoy, Cork. In a letter in March 1915 his cousin said that James was disappointed that he was still out of the action.

Death of Hugh Patrick Shine 1915

The second of the Shine family to die was 2nd Lieutenant Hugh Patrick Shine. Hugh attended Downside School in September 1905. He was described as ‘Full of energy’, in his school account. He was a keen sportsman and represented his house, Caverel, at cricket, hockey and golf. He also achieved the rank of Lance Corporal in the schools Officer Training Corps (OTC). In December 1913, Hugh left Downside to attend Sandhurst. On 21st May 1915 he wrote to the headmaster at Downside. The letter concluded with the words ‘it does not seem as if there will be many left when the war is over’. Three days later he died at Mousetrap Farm, 24th May 1915. He was 18 years old.

Battle of the Somme 1st July 1916

In April 1916 James left Abbeyside, Dungarvan and returned to France with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. On the 24th of June 1916, the battle of the Somme began with the British bombardment of the German lines. Over 1.7 million shells were fired. On July 1st the British soldiers advanced across no-man’s land and were met by heavy machine-gunfire. Three Companies of the 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers participated in the second wave of the attack. This attack took place at 9am. It was called off after 5 minutes when they came under heavy fire from Beaumont – Hamel. Out of the 23 officers and 480 men of the 2nd RDF who left the assembly trenches 14 officers and 311 men had become casualties. James was shot and wounded in the left leg, 3 inches below the knee during this attack and was sent home to recover in Ireland.

James on Medical Leave

Following his injury, James left for England on July 4th 1916 from Le Harve on the ‘Panama’ and arrived in Southampton on 5th July. On 18th July he was examined by the medical board in Manchester. ‘He was struck by a machine gun bullet which traversed the left leg three inches below the knee. Passing between the bones. No nerve or bone injury. Wounds scabbed over and nearly healed’. However, he wasn’t cleared for light duty at home. On 9th August he was examined in Fermoy, Cork. ‘The wound is quite healed but after walking any distance he gets pain in foot’. He was cleared for light duty after the examination. On 9th September his wound was again inspected in Cork Military Hospital. ‘The wounds are quite healed and he can now walk any distance without pain’. He was cleared for General Service.


James’s Return to War

Following his recovery he returned to the front and joined the 9th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers on 8th October 1916 to take command of ‘C Company’ who at that time were in Loker, near the French Belgian border. Between April and the middle of June 1917, he worked as a Staff Officer with the 16th Irish Division. This was a vital time for the Division in their preparation for the Battle of Messines.

Death of James Owen Williams Shine 1917

During the Battle of Messines, the 2nd, 8th and 9th Royal Dublin Fusiliers were kept in reserve. Their turn for front line assault came on the 16th of August 1917 when they attacked the German machine gun pits at the Potsdam, Vampir and Borry Farms just east of Frezenberg. It was during this ill-fated attack that Captain James Owen Williams Shine was killed along with seven fellow officers from his battalion and their Chaplain, Fr. William Doyle, S.J. James was 26 and is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke in Western Flanders, Belgium.

On the 20th August 1917 the Secretary of the War Office sent a telegram to James’s mother expressing the Army Council’s deep regret. In a letter of condolence received by Col. Shine in Sept 1917, a friend recalled….. that chat about your boy at the church last March when you told me of his desire to remain with his men rather than avail of a less dangerous position and you added “if that be his spirit, I am not going to interfere” …….

Medals and Awards


The Death Penny

James's Medal Card with the incorrect date of death

after the war

James’s mother, Kathleen, passed away on 7th July 1924. She died of a broken heart after losing all her sons to the war. Col. James Matthew Shine remarried in 1927 to Margaret Coleman. They had 3 boys, Denis Owen Shine, Henry David Shine, my grandfather, and James Shine.

Denis Owen Shine 1928 – 1971

Henry David Shine 1930 – 2000

James (Jim) Shine 1932

Margaret, Harry & Jim

The Present Day

Jim Shine and his family continue to live in the family home in Abbeyside, Dungarvan where memories of the three brothers lost to the war are cherished and one hundred years on their portraits hang in the home where they grew up.

Photos of the brothers

Family home in Abbeyside

Three Generations of the Shine Family

This photograph of James, his father, and cousin, Jack Williams, is believed to have been taken in the garden of the family home in Abbeyside during the War.

Waterford War Memorial Dungarvan

James, John and Hugh Shine are forever remembered at the Memorial Wall in their home town of Dungarvan. Waterford men and women who lost their lives in World War One are commemorated here.

Tyne Cot Memorial and The Menin Gate

James and Hugh are also commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial and the Menin Gate. I had the opportunity to visit both memorials as part of the My Adopted Soldier Trip and place three stones from their home in Abbeyside at each memorial to remember the three brothers who lost their lives in the Great War.


my Story

My name is Sophie Shine and I was one of 15 students who travelled to Belgium in June 2017 as part of the My Adopted Soldier Project. I first was introduced to this project in late 2016 after I had done a project on my family in World War I. My teacher, Ber Glynn, encouraged me to apply to take part in the project.

Following our first meeting in Collins Barracks, I was delighted to get the opportunity to research my Great Uncle James Shine who fought and died in World War I. This allowed me to connect with my own history with a very unique experience.

A trip was organised for the 15 students from around Ireland to meet with German students in Belgium to commemorate fallen soldiers. Meeting with the German students gave us the opportunity to commemorate soldiers from both sides of the war.

We visited the EU Parliament in Brussels, walked through German trenches, visited museums and most importantly the resting places and memorials of our adopted soldiers.

My Research

As James is a relative I found it quite easy to research him. My Great Uncle Jimmy, who is James's half brother, had done a lot of his own research on his brothers and his father which was extremely helpful. One of the first things I looked at in the family home in Abbeyside was the family bible that recorded all the births and deaths in the Shine family going back to the late 1800s.


For me, history is all about the little gems of the past. It amazed me to see what my ancestors lives were like on a daily basis. As I went through the old documents in the family home I found some things that brought life to each of their stories.



We found school reports from Downside, various letters that talked about ordinary day to day life before and during the war. I thought it was interesting that the children called their parents mam and dad, like we do today. I would have expected them to be referred to as mother and father. I enjoyed reading the diary of Kitty, James's sister, which covered one year of her life and detailed her travels from Ireland to India, where her father was stationed. It gave me an interesting insight to her life as teenager.

My Great Uncle Jim organised a memorial stone to be placed on the family grave in Waterford to remember the Shine family from that era. He was also involved in the organisation of the Waterford War Memorial in Dungarvan. The brothers are also remembered on this wall along with hundreds of others. I am happy to have been involved in this project and to have taken part in ensuring that the lives of the Shine brothers and other fallen soldiers of the Great War are never forgotten.

Belgium 2017

Day 1

We stayed in the Irish College in Leuven. On our first day we were brought on a guided tour of Leuven. We had some free time before going back to the Irish College and got the opportunity to have a look around for ourselves. Leuven is a beautiful place. When we returned to the college we met the German students for the first time. We all participated in a scavenger hunt around Leuven to get to know each other. In the evening some of the Irish and German students made presentations on their research.


Day 2

On our second day we visited the European Parliament in Brussels where we met with Marian Harkin MEP and Gesine Meißner MEP. Two students presented their research on their soldiers. We headed off to Ypres. We visited the Island of Ireland Peace Park. We also visited two cemeteries, the Pool of Peace, the Heuvellend Tourism Office and the Bayernwald German Trenches. Finally, we visited the death cells and execution place used by the British Army in Poperinge. One student told the story of their soldier who was executed by firing squad. We also got to look inside the cells of the soldiers who were sentenced to death.

Island of Ireland Peace Park

Pool of Peace


Place of Execution

Day 3

On our third day we visited a few more Commonwealth Cemeteries, followed by a trip to Vladslo Cemetery which is a German cemetery. I found there was a major difference between the Commonwealth Cemeteries and the German ones. The cemeteries where the Irish students’ soldiers are commemorated were bright and well kept. However, I found that the German cemeteries were much more bleak and sombre. We also visited Poelcapelle British Cemetery. This is where the grave of John Condon lies. He was a Waterford boy who is believed to have been the youngest soldier who died in World War I. Visiting the Tyne Cot Memorial was an important moment for me as this is where James is commemorated. Although his name is one of thousands on this wall it was an emotional moment for me as I got to make the final connection with my great uncle. I left three stones at the wall to remember the three brothers who died in the war. We then visited the Flanders Museum. Before we attended The Last Post Ceremony I had the opportunity to go to Hugh’s memorial. I didn't know if I was going to be able to visit both memorials and being given the chance to see two of my great uncles' memorials moved me. Hugh is remembered on the Menin Gate. Like James’s memorial, I left three stones at his memorial to remember the brothers. At the Last Post Ceremony Gerry Moore spoke the exhortation and a wreath was laid by an Irish and German student. I found it extraordinary that after 100 years so many people still come to remember the fallen and to pay their respects.

James's name of the Tyne Cot Memorial

Hugh's name on the Menin Gate

I found the whole experience very interesting and thought provoking. I would like to thank everyone involved who made this trip possible and to all the friends I made along the way.  

Then in the lull of midnight, gentle arms Lifted him slowly down the slopes of death Lest he should hear again the mad alarms Of battle, dying moans, and painful breath.

And where the earth was soft for flowers we made A grave for him that he might better rest. So, Spring shall come and leave it seet arrayed, And there the lark shall turn her dewy nest

A Soldier's Grave by Francis Ledwidge