Peter (Pat) Shearer, Orkney Hero

On 11th of November 1914, Peter (Pat) Shearer, Chief Officer of the steamer Hangchow lost his life whilst attempting to save a Chinese sailor who had fallen into the water outside Newchang Bar, China. He was only 35.

Peter (Pat) Shearer was the son of the Kirkwall coal merchant also Peter, living at 17 East Road, Kirkwall.

In recognition of his bravery President Yuan Shi Kai of the Republic of China (1912–16) awarded a box scroll of honour to the family of Pat Shearer. The scroll in Chinese was translated :

There is a plaque in his memory presented by his brother officers in the China Coast Officers Guild in St Magnus Cathedral.

The Shearer’s were a large family but suffered loss when Pat’s younger brother William died in 1910 aged only 27. And like many families they also lost a son in World War I when Leslie Shearer was killed at Vimy Ridge on 13th of April 1917. He was 23.

Private Leslie Shearer died serving in the Canadian Infantry and is commemorated at the Petit-Vimy British Cemetery. It contains 94 First World War burials, 23 of them unidentified. He is also listed on the Kirkwall War Memorial.

Leslie Shearer emigrated to Canada at a young age. He joined up when the call came for recruits and before being sent to France he was able to spend a short time with his family. In a letter from The Front a comrade wrote:

Kirkwall and St Ola War Memorial

Fiona Grahame

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