SHELLEY, Richard
(Service number 17/179)

First Rank Trooper Last Rank Sergeant


Date 16 November 1883 Place of Birth Christchurch, New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 20 October 1914 Age 30
Address at Enlistment Care of A.L. Dobson, Fairlie, South Canterbury, New Zealand
Occupation Farm Hand
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mr Jeremiah Shelley (father) 100 Bealey Street, St Albans, Christchurch, New Zealand
Religion Roman Catholic
Medical Information 5 foot 6 inches tall, weight 154 (70 kgs), chest 32 1/2-35 inches, dark complexion, grey eyes, black hair, good teeth

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 2nd Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship NZ Veterinary Corps
Date 14 December 1914
Transport HMNZT14 Willochra
Embarked From Wellington, New Zealand Destination Suez,Egypt (arrived 28 January 1915)
Other Units Served With 2nd Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment
Last Unit Served With 2nd Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Egypt & Western Europe
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal & Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 26 February 1919 Reason End of engagement

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

1 October 1916 - gun shots wound, upper arm; 2 October - admitted to No.1 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples; 6 October - boarded HS Stad Antwerpen; 7 October - admitted to 1st Southern General Hospital, Birmingham; Discharged 1 January 1917 to Sling Camp. 7 July 1918 - admitted to 1 NZ Field Ambulance - trench fever; transferred to No.29 Casulaty Clearing Station; 9 July admitted to No.10 General Hospital, Rouen; transferred 11 July and admitted to 1 NZ General Hospital, Brockenhurst, England, 12 Jul; transferred to Convalescent Hospital, Hornchurch, 14 Aug; discharged to Command Depot, Codford, 24 August.

Post-war Occupations

Carpenter and labourer


Date 15 August 1966 Age 82
Place of Death Ashburton, New Zealand
Notices Dept of Internal Affairs 25 August 1966
Memorial or Cemetery Ashburton Cemetery
Memorial Reference RSA Area 233, Plot 5
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Richard, the second son of Jeremiah (1851-1937) and Bridget (1856-1933, nee Costello) Shelley, was born at Christchurch on November 16, 1883. His parents had married in New Zealand on June 13, 1881, both having been born in Ireland. Richard was educated at the Medbury School, North Canterbury, where his father was employed by the railways and was the non-permanent Postmaster, later transferring to Christchurch in 1911.

In 1914 Richard was working as a farm hand for Mr A L Dobson at Fairlie, when he enlisted at Timaru on October 20, and was posted to the Veterinary Corps. The Veterinary Corps was made up of suitable men for the various duties which were to be done under veterinary officers and were trained at a remount depot established at Upper Hutt. The Farmers Union was used as a recruiting agent for the Corps with the following advertisement submitted by the Director of Veterinary Services. “Blacksmiths, Farriers and Saddlers wanted. Men of these trades are needed for Service at the Front with the NZ Veterinary Corps. Only men proved to be good workmen, steady, and of good character will be accepted. Those enrolled will be required to go through a course of military training before leaving New Zealand.” Being single, he nominated his father Jeremiah, who was by this time at 100 Bealey Street, St Albans Christchurch, as his next of kin. Richard was described as being 5 foot 6 inches tall, weighing 154 pounds (70 kgs), chest measuring 32 ½ - 35 inches, of the Roman Catholic faith, having a dark complexion, grey eyes, black hair and good teeth.

Trooper Shelley entered into Trentham Camp with the 2nd Reinforcements shortly after October 21, where they received their uniforms and basic military training. In mid-November they moved to the Remount Depot at Upper Hutt where further training took place, after which he was posted to the 2nd section whose task was to provide support to the infantry and artillery. His unit then embarked with the 2nd Reinforcements from Wellington on December 14, 1914, aboard HMNZT14 Willochra. The Willochra left in company of the HMNZT13 Verdala and HMNZT15 Knight of the Garter where they steamed to Western Australia and joined up with the Australian Second Convoy, arriving at Suez, via Colombo, on January 28, 1915. In Egypt the 2nd section operated as a veterinary hospital which could take in about 250 horses for the infantry and artillery. The 1st section was responsible for the mounted brigade horses. From April 5 to 14, 1916, he was admitted sick to No1 NZ Stationary Hospital. Meanwhile there had been arrangements made for the establishment of a NZ Division and the 2nd Infantry Brigade came into being with one of the new battalions created was the 2nd Canterbury Battalion. On April 17, Trooper now Private Shelley, was posted to this new battalion at Moascar and on May 20, 1916, embarked from Alexandria for Marseilles aboard the SS Ivernia.

In France he was attached to the strength of the NZ Infantry Base Depot at Etaples where he undertook more rigorous training before joining the 2nd Battalion in the field on July 14. By this time the 2nd Battalion were part of the Battle of the Somme when, on October 1, Private Shelley received gunshot wounds to his upper arm. On October 2, he was admitted to No 1 Canadian General Hospital at Etaples before embarking on October 6, for England on the Hospital Ship Stad Antwerpen, and admitted to the 1st Southern General Hospital at Birmingham on October 7. On his discharge from hospital on January 1, 1917, he was attached to the strength of the Reserve Group at Sling Camp. On March 3, 1917, he marched into camp at Etaples, re-joining his unit in the field on May 5. The weather during May was fine and warm and his unit was part of the huge preparations being made for the forthcoming Battle of Messines which began on June 7. This battle was a prelude to the much larger Third Battle of Ypres, better known as Passchendaele, which began on July 31, 1917. On October 27, Richard was promoted to Lance Corporal, followed by further promotion to full Corporal on January 1, 1918, the same day he was granted 10 days leave in Paris. This would have been a welcome leave as the Battalion had had a miserable time in the trenches over the Christmas period when snow had fallen, the ground had frozen, making shell fire more dangerous. On February 23, 1918, the 2nd Battalion left the Ypres area and moved to St Sylvestre Cappel where the quarters were good. After a few days’ rest, training began again with the odd game of inter unit football. Meanwhile the German offensive of March 21 had commenced on a 50 mile front and the NZ troops were moved up to the Upper Ancre valley. After much hard fighting the NZ troops stopped the German advance, and by April 5, the road to Amiens held. On April 9, 1918, Corporal Shelly was again promoted to Sergeant. In July the allied forces began the advance through Rossignol Wood, Puisieux, Achiet, Grevillers and Bapume.

Taken sick with trench fever on July 7, Richard was admitted to 1 NZ Field Ambulance, transferred to No 29 Casualty Clearance Station, before being admitted on July 9, to No 10 General Hospital at Rouen. Transfer to England followed on July 11, and admittance to 1 NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst on July 12. Transfer to the Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch took place on August 14, before being discharged to the Command Depot at Codford on August 24. From here he marched into Sling Camp on September 19, and proceeded back to France on October 24, where he rejoined his unit on November 10, 1918. On November 29, he was detached back to England for his return to New Zealand where, on December 23, he boarded SS Briton at Plymouth, arriving at Lyttelton on January 28, 1919. Discharge from the army followed on February 26, 1919, after having served a total of 4 years and 130 days. For this service Richard was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medals.

On his return home, Richard moved to Seafield near Ashburton, where his brother Joseph was farming, and he is recorded as being employed as a carpenter and labourer. He remained at Seafield until he retired, and in 1963, is listed as residing at 136 Cox Street, Ashburton. Richard died at Ashburton on August 15, 1966, aged 82 years, and is buried in the Ashburton Cemetery, RSA Area. On his death his next of kin was recorded as his sister, Mrs J.J. Harnett of 12 Takapauga Terrace, Kaikoura.

Of the six Shelley boys, five of them served in the First World War. 47089 Rifleman Joseph Francis Shelley served with the 2nd Battalion NZ Rifle Brigade in Western Europe. 5/398A Lance Corporal Jeremiah Shelley served with the Army Service Corps in Egypt and Western Europe. 1/397 Sergeant Patrick Bysshe Shelley served with the 1st Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment in France and died of wounds on August 26, 1918. He is buried in the Bagneux Cemetery, Gezaincourt, Somme, France. Finally 91100 Private John Shelley entered camp on October 7, 1918, serving on Home Service until his discharge on April 1, 1919.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [September 2017]; New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at; Assorted records at [September2017]; Ashburton District Council cemtery records at; 'Obituary: Mr J Shelley' in the Press 18 September 1937 p16, courtesy of Papers Past at

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Researched and Written by

Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG

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