Alfred Charles Shiers was born on 11 June 1886 in Devonport, Devonshire, England. He was the second child of Alfred Charles Shiers (1862-1937) and Mary Ann Mallett (1857-1917). His parents hailed from Tottenham, London and Upper Arley, Staffordshire respectively. Alfred's father was a musician with the 2nd King's Royal Rifles and as such he was born in the Married Quarters of Raglan Barracks, Devonport.1
Alfred's siblings were: Jane (b. 1885), Frederick James (b. 1888), Michael Patrick (b. 1890), Jessie Norah (b. 1898) and Richard John (b. 1900). He first appears on the 1901 census living with his mother and siblings at 31 York Street, Southampton. His profession is recorded as a dock labourer.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, he gave his address as 5 Peel Street, Northam, Southampton. He had been at sea for 11 years, serving with the Union Castle Company and the Royal Mail Company. His served on the Danube before signing-on to the Titanic.
Shiers discovered which lifeboat he was assigned to, No. 3, the afternoon of Sunday, the 14th. He stated the lifeboat list was posted on the forecastle door sometime after the noon meal. It had not been available earlier.
He was off duty the evening of 14th April, and was reading in his bunk in the forecastle at the time of the impact. He felt a slight shock and rumble, and went up to the well deck to see what happened. Upon seeing the ice on the deck, he looked over the starboard side, and saw the iceberg disappearing into a haze astern of the ship.
After heading back to his quarters, he helped another fireman look for the doctor. Upon returning, he discovered water coming up through the #1 hatch. He then headed up the Boat Deck and was directed to his assigned lifeboat, No. 3. Finding no one there, he went to lifeboat 7, and helped clear the falls.
After 7 was lowered, Shiers was ordered into No. 5 by an unknown officer. Though he stated that he saw the sink ship, he did not describe whether he thought the ship broke apart upon sinking, or sank intact.
Shiers testified at the British Inquiry on 9 May 1912.
Alfred never married and continued working at sea well into the 1920s.2 He died from tuberculosis in Southampton on 12 February 1946. His address at the time was the same 5 Peel Street address as had been in 1912. He was buried in Hollybrook Cemetery in an unmarked grave. Recently, efforts have been made to mark Alfred's resting place with a marker indicating that he was a Titanic survivor.
- His father was a Private (Bandsman) in the East Yorkshire Regiment who transferred to the Kings Royal Rifles 60th Foot in 1884. According to the Muster Rolls, the Kings Royal Rifles were stationed at Devonport from 1st April 1884 to 11th September 1886. Alfred Shiers Senior died on 27th February 1937 in The Borough Hospital, Southampton, the informant on his death certificate is R J Shiers (Richard John Shiers) his youngest son, who gives his address as 5 Peel Street, Southampton which would also be Alfred's address all his life.
- The ships he served on identified by official number in his 1920 identity card were the Teutonic, Portwood and St Athan.
References and Sources
General Register Office Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths
Wreck Commissioners' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic
United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List
John P. Eaton & Charles A. Haas (1994) Titanic: Triumph & Tragedy, 2nd ed. Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1 85260 493 X
Colonel Archibald Gracie (1913) The Truth about the Titanic. New York, Mitchell Kennerley
Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
Susan Wels (1997) Titanic: The Worlds Greatest Ocean Liner, Crew list by Michael Findley
CR10 Identity card, 1920, Discharge number: 381434 (National Archive BT350)
Gavin Bell, UK
Steve Coombes, UK
Chris Dohany, USA
Jane Russell, UK
Brian Ticehurst, UK
Bill Wormstedt, USA
Articles and Stories
Southern Daily Echo (1946)
Titanic Research (2008)