Shapira, Second Lieutenant Francis Cunningham

No 69 (Australian) Sqn RFC

Francis Shapira was born in Stepney, London, on 30 July 1889, and was working as a Station Overseer at Wallandbeen, NSW, when he joined the AIF on 2 March 1915 at Liverpool, NSW. He was posted to the 18th Infantry Battalion, and left from Sydney on HMAT A40 Ceramic on 25 June. He was promoted to Corporal before landing at Gallipoli, where he was wounded in August, after which he was evacuated. After a period of hospitalisation, he returned to the 18th Battalion and was promoted to Sergeant before moving to the Western Front, where he was wounded again and evacuated to England. After recovery, and service with a Training Battalion, he transferred to the AFC in December 1916. He graduated as a pilot in June 1917, when he was commissioned. He was then posted to No 69 (Australian) Squadron, which was training at South Carlton in England prior to moving to France. The squadron began to fly to France on 21 August, first flying to Lympne with a mechanic in the observer’s cockpit of the RE8s, leaving the observers behind to travel with other personnel by water.

He was killed in an aircraft accident at Biggin Hill on 21 August 1917 (The Official History indicates that the accident was on 24 August, but the Service Record of Lt Shapira clearly says 21 August) while flying RE8 B3421 with AMII W D Sloane, who was also killed. The aeroplane was forced to land at Biggin Hill on the way to Lympne, and crashed when taking off again.

2Lt F C Shapira is buried in Grave XI C 3 at Brookwood (Military) Cemetery, Surrey, England.

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