Profile of Courage: Second Lieutenant Morley Roy Shier

News Article / July 21, 2017

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By Major Bill March

Born in Scott Township, near Leaskdale, Ontario, on December 4, 1894, Morley Roy Shier attended school in Leaskdale and Uxbridge before embarking on a career as a teacher. He had accepted a position at the Earl Grey School in Toronto when he made the decision to enlist, and on November 15, 1917, he joined the Royal Flying Corps. 

After completing his training at various Royal Flying Corps (Canada) establishments in Canada and the United States, Second Lieutenant Shier was commissioned as a pilot in the newly formed Royal Air Force (RAF) in April 1918. A month later, he was in England, where he would spend the next few months completing his advanced training. In July, he was posted to No. 256 Squadron and stationed at the village of Seahouses on the Northumberland coast in northeast of England.

The squadron operated two-seater Airco DeHavilland 6 (DH6) aircraft in coastal and anti-submarine patrol roles. Underpowered, the DH6 could not accommodate both bombs and an observer, so patrols were often flown solo by the pilot, thus permitting a small weapons load to be carried. 

On September 6, 1918, a relatively foggy day, Flight Lieutenant Shier took off in DH6 C5172 on a North Sea patrol. For reasons unknown, the aircraft ditched in the sea about 32 kilometres (20 miles) offshore. His body was never located and he was presumed to have drowned.

News of his death did not become general knowledge back home until October. Family friend and writer, Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, noted in her diary that “On Tuesday came word of the death of Morley Shier, a fine young fellow from our church… .” In January 1919, she dedicated her latest novel, Rainbow Valley, to the three members of her community who were killed in the war. The inscription reads, “To the memory of Goldwin Lapp, Robert Brookes and Morley Shier, who made the supreme sacrifice that the happy valleys of their home might be kept sacred from the ravage of the invader.”

Because his body was never recovered, Flight Lieutenant Shier is commemorated on the Hollybrook Memorial in Hampshire, England. He was 23.

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