Sheals, John Joseph (No. 161948)

Sheals, John Joseph

Petty Officer First Class

No. 161948, HMS Pembroke, Royal Navy

Died as the result of an accident on Saturday 27 January 1917 (aged 40)


Portaferry Roman Catholic Church Graveyard (West of Church)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission


In some records his surname is spelt Shiels and in others, Shields.

John Joseph Sheals was born on 24 June 1876 in Portaferry and he was baptised on 2 July 1876 in Portaferry Roman Catholic Church.

John Joseph Sheals was a son of Thomas and Sarah Sheals (nee Smyth, sometimes Smith) who were married on 10 January 1875 in St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Ballyphilip.  Thomas Sheals worked as a boatman.

The death of Petty Officer First Class John Joseph Sheals was reported in the 3 February 1917 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle under the headline Portaferry Naval Officer’s Death.  His address was given as Meeting-House Lane, Portaferry.

The report stated that an inquest had been held at St Pancras London.  On 19 January 1917 John Joseph Sheals left his ship at the start of a period of leave and he intended to visit his home in Portaferry.

On Saturday 27 January 1917, whilst walking along Euston Road in London, he was seen to stagger and fall, striking his head on the pavement.  Petty Officer First Class John Joseph Sheals was taken to University College Hospital where he became unconscious soon after admission and he died two hours later.

At the inquest, Dr Hickson stated that John Joseph Sheals’s skull had been fractured and a piece of the broken bone had lacerated his brain.  Death was due to effusion of blood on the brain and the jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Petty Officer First Class John Joseph Sheals (No. 161948) was buried in Portaferry Roman Catholic Church Graveyard and he is commemorated on the family grave headstone:


In memory of John Joseph Sheals died 27 January 1917 aged 42 years

His mother Sarah Sheals died 19 March 1893 aged 60 years

Also his aunt Alice McNamara, died 16 April 1927 aged 83 years