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Archibald Shields MBE

Arch Shields

Career : 1937 - 1938
Debut : Round 3, 1937 v Melbourne, aged 22 years, 345 days
Carlton Player No. 535
Games : 19
Goals : 19
Last Game : Round 14, 1938 v Essendon, aged 24 years, 63 days
Guernsey No. 25
Height : 183 cm (6 ft. 0 in.)
Weight : 76 kg (12 stone)
DOB : May 28, 1914



Archibald ‘Archie’ Shields was a dangerous and capable half-forward recruited by the Blues in 1937. Following a brief career of 19 senior matches and 19 goals at Princes Park, he volunteered for active service in World War II, and began an auspicious wartime flying career with the RAAF Meteorology Service. At war’s end he joined the weather bureau, and in 1972, was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for his skill and dedication in developing Australia’s cyclone warning system.

Born in the northern Victorian town of Kyabram, Shields grew up in the grim years of the Great Depression. Even so, his family were still able to provide him with a good education. By 1937 he was employed as a teacher with the Victorian Department of Education, and was playing eye-catching football each weekend as a key forward for the Teachers Training College, he had previously played for Tongala.

Carlton discovered him in 1936, but it was the following year before Archie wore Carlton’s number 25 guernsey onto the field for his first senior game – against Melbourne at the MCG in early May. Playing at centre half-forward in place of the injured Jack Wrout, Shields kicked a goal on debut, but was largely ineffective as the Demons hammered Carlton by six goals.

Wrout’s return from injury the following week was welcome news for the Blues, and allowed Shields to move across to a flank where he was considerably more comfortable. In just his third match, Archie served notice of his ability when he kicked four of Carlton’s eight goals against Collingwood in a 27-point loss to the black and whites at Victoria Park.

From then on, he was an integral member of the team and wound up his first year with 17 goals from 16 games. In a topsy-turvy season, the Blues just missed out on a finals berth by finishing fifth on the ladder, two points shy of Richmond. While that year’s finals were being played, Shields enlisted in the RAAF. He had yearned to fly from an early age, and with tensions between Nazi Germany and Great Britain becoming ever more strained, the air force and indeed, all the armed forces were actively recruiting.

In 1938, Carlton’s coup of recruiting South Melbourne champion Brighton Diggins as captain-coach bore fruit immediately when the big man led his new team to wins over Hawthorn, Richmond and Essendon in the first three matches of the season. Shields played in all three games - kicking two goals against the Tigers – then bid farewell to Princes Park to start a new life in the service of his country.

During his pilot training course, Shields developed a real interest in the science of meteorology, and this set him on a path that he would follow for the rest of his life. World War II began in September 1939, and Archie graduated as a pilot officer early the following year. He then applied for a posting to the RAAF Meteorology Service in New Guinea, and began flying specially-equipped aircraft (usually twin-engined Hudson bombers) that collected weather data vital to strategic planning.

The Japanese were well aware of the importance of this type of aircraft, and were always intent on destroying any that they came across – in the air or on the ground. Archie underwent a number of close shaves during bombing and strafing attacks by Japanese planes, but survived to be promoted to Squadron Leader.

By 1944, Shields was a senior member of a joint Australian-American reconnaissance, planning and air support network known as the First Tactical Air Force, which successfully planned and co-ordinated all the airborne operations for the amphibious landings at Tarakan, Brunei and Balikpapan in the last months of the war. For his outstanding contribution to all of these successful operations, Shields was Mentioned In Despatches.

After the war, Archie continued his infatuation with the vagaries of weather. He joined the Bureau of Meteorology in Brisbane, and worked there until 1954, when he was appointed Deputy Director of the bureau in Hobart. In 1959, he returned to Brisbane as Deputy Director and fine-tuned his excellent warning system through a number of destructive cyclones, including Ada, Althea, Dinah and Wanda – the last of which caused the record Brisbane floods of 1974. By then, his diligence and years of research had been rewarded by the award of an MBE two years beforehand.

Archie retired from the Bureau in 1977, and spent the later years of his life contributing his time and energy to his local Legacy and Rotary clubs – as he had done for much of his life. However, friends said later that Archie always claimed that his greatest community service came with his 19 games for Carlton!

Married to Marjorie and the father of four children, Archie Shields passed away at the St Andrews War Memorial Hospital, Spring Hill in Brisbane on August 25, 1995, aged 81.

Footnote:

1939 Carlton were in Sydney to play N.S.W. on the Sydney Cricket Ground, July 29.
The Sydney Morning Herald, July 25, wrote about each Carlton player.
A. Shields, 24, 6ft 1/2 in, 12st. 10lb. A fine high marking and effective forward.

Flying Officer Archie Shields was a member of the R.A.A.F. football team that played in Kalgoorlie against a Gold Fields representative team at Boulder Oval on 5 July 1941.
The Kalgoorlie Miner, July 04 (p2);
"Archie Shields played centre-half forward for Carlton last season. Local people who saw him in Melbourne speak highly of his ability. He is a high-marking specialist, and a beautiful kick."
Arch scored 1 goal in the 60 point loss to the Gold Fields team.

Arch Shields attained the rank of Squadron Leader in the R.A.A.F.
The above photo shows R.A.A.F. officers and Carlton footballers, Arch Shields and Don McIntyre (pointing) during WW2 on Morotai Island Borneo, 19/3/1945.
Courtesy Australian War Memorial

Blueseum: Summary of playing statistics for Arch Shields | Shields' Blueseum Image Gallery