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Charles Shelford

Portrait; original held in the Tairawhiti Museum, Gisborne - This image may be subject to copyright

Portrait; original held in the Tairawhiti Museum, Gisborne - This image may be subject to copyright


Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    22 August 1921 AWMM Te KahaBay of Plenty AWMM
  • Date of birth
    22 August 1920 Public - Brenda - Other Relative - 13 February 2015 - NZ Dictionary of Biography. His Army Personal File gives DOB as 22 August 1919 - he had added to his age to be eligible to enlist.
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    Pre 26 January 1940 AWMM Wainui Beach, Gisborne, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    Mrs Teowaina Shelford (mother), Tikitiki, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Pre 8 November 1940 AWMM Single AWMM


Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards
    • Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) AWMM
      I wish to recommend Pte. Shelford for an Immediate Award. During a night attack by this battalion on the 14 December 1941 the first line of positions at Gazala he showed outstanding heroism and courage. After the first entrenchments had been taken his section carried on with the Platoon Commander for a distance of 300 yards to a ridge. The Platoon Commander then discovered that his section was now isolated from the extreme left flank of the battalion and was being fired on from the right rear and from their left flank. Pte. Shelford volunteered to cover the 300 yards to the enemy firing from the rear and clean it out. Meanwhile the enemy on the left flank were sweeping the area with anti-tank guns, medium and light machine-guns as well as rifle fire. Notwithstanding the intensity of the enemy from his flank and his front Pte. Shelford covered the 300 yards walking and running and firing his Spandau machine-gun from his hip. When he was about 20 yards from the trench he was hit in rapid succession by 3 grenades in the legs. Badly wounded and dazed he attempted to bring the Spandau into action but that had been hit and and the butt smashed so even though he was suffering intense agony he threw a Mills bomb into the trench. This brought out the enemy and by this time his Platoon commander and section arrived and took charge of the prisoners. Altogether 4 officers and 36 O/R's came out of the trenches in the vicinity including the commander of the enemy positions. The surrender of the commander started the collapse of the entire position and ended the enemy resistance in that area. Pte. Shelford's conduct was outstanding even in action in which deeds of bravery Were numerous and in my opinion and the opinion of the Platoon Commander certainly merits the award requested. (L.G.24/2/1942) London Gazette 20 February 1942 During a night attack on 14 December 1941 he showed outstanding heroism and courage. Private Shelford volunteered to cover 300 yards to the enemy firing from the rear and clean it out. He covered the 300 yards under fire from anti tank guns, MMGs, LMGs and rifle fire, walking, running and firing. AWMM
    • 1939-1945 Star AWMM
    • Africa Star (8th Army clasp) AWMM
    • Italy Star AWMM
    • Defence Medal AWMM
    • War Medal 1939-1945 AWMM
    • New Zealand War Service Medal AWMM

Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
    WW2 26 January 1940 AWMM Labourer/Civilian AWMM
    GisborneGisborne AWMM
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes
    • Height, Unknown Period AWMM
      5 foot 10 1/2 inches AWMM
    • Eye colour, Unknown Period AWMM
      Brown AWMM
    • Hair colour, Unknown Period AWMM
      Black AWMM
    • Hospital Diseases , Wounds, WWII AWMM
      Egypt, Camp Hospital 19-23 February 1941 AWMM
    • Hospital Diseases , Wounds, WWII AWMM
      Hospitalised immediately after the Gazala incident with leg injuries AWMM
    • Accidental Death, Cause of Death AWMM
      Killed as a pedestrian in a hit and run road accident AWMM

Last known rank

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Biographical information

Biographical information

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    • He was the son of Tame Shelford and Te Owaina Kirikiri Puihi of Tikitiki. Raised by Atareta and Paratene of Tikitiki

      Married Lilias May (known as Maisie and Blue) Beazley in 1948

      Aged 18 years at enlistment, as he increased his age by three years to enlist his military records have his birth date as 1918

      Awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal after the action at Gazala, Libya, North Africa. The recommending officer, 2nd Lieutenant Rangi Logan later recalled that he had actually recommended Shelford for the Victoria Cross. Feelings about this never really died away and were the subject of a newspaper report some 40 years later at the time of his tangi.

      Was hospitalised after the Gazala episode as his legs were giving him trouble and was transferred to duties with transport as a driver initially for Rangi Logan and later delivering ammunition to distribution points close to the front line.

      Described as a legendary figure for his exploits during service bravery, bucking authority and the rules, and for his success in collecting loot and booty for resale and trade.

      Returned to New Zealand 31 October 1944 and discharged in February the following year having served 5 years 9 days

      He was closely associated with the Newmarket Returned Servicemen’s Association. The club still holds an annual pool competition in which members compete for the Charlie Shelford trophy.

      Closely associated with the Te Unga Waka Marae, Clyde Street, Epsom, Auckland; kaumatua and one of the first Maori Warden

      Tangi held at the Te Unga Waka Marae AWMM
    • Documentary TV film of his life story Public - Brenda - Other Relative - 13 February 2015 - Maori TV. Telecast ANZAC DAY 2012.
      To view the film go to
Read more


About death

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  • Death
    7 May 1984 AWMM
    Age 63 AWMM
    EpsomAuckland AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Mangere Public Cemetery, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
    Death Notice: RSA Review Last Post AWMM
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

Roll of Honour

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Leave a note

Leave a tribute or memory of Charles Shelford

Leave a note

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  • Charlie Shelford Is the the father of my grandmother Mary Shelford Tuki and grandfather of my father Steven Tuki. Ive Heard many great storys from my father about his grandfather Charlie and i will pass those on to his great grandchildren to come... A true legend, hero, father, grandfather and role model to many.
    Public - Ray Charles Tuki - Direct descendant - 29 July 2021
    Public - STEPHEN JAMES - Direct descendant - 2 June 2019
  • He is my Nan's Father ( Huia Shelford ) , il make sure his legacy lives on !
    Public - Dallas Ray Morunga - Direct descendant - 1 May 2017
  • He is my grate gran auncle my dads dad brother he looks like my brother in this photo
    Public - Edith - 25 April 2017
  • I remeber Uncle Charlie when I was growing up when I was a little girl.He used to be in the New Zealand army.
    Public - Erin Elizabeth - Other relative - 25 April 2017



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  • External links
  • References
    • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. (1941). Nominal Roll Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force No. 3 (Embarkations from 1st July, 1940 to 31st March, 1941). Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      WW2 3: WW2 430 AWMM
    • Awatere, A. (2003). Awatere : a soldier's story. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia. AWMM
    • New Zealand Genealogist AWMM
      Joyce, B. (2004). Charles Shelford. New Zealand genealogist. AWMM
    • RSA review: the official journal of the N.Z. Returned Services' Association AWMM
      Death Notice: Last Post AWMM
    • Cody, J. (1956). 28 (Maori) Battalion. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
    • Information kindly provided by family AWMM


Command item
Command item
Add new record Refresh
DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
24 February 2024Lorraine Mona Gisborne Researcher
29 July 2021Ray Charles TukiNew PlymouthDirect descendant
02 June 2019STEPHEN JAMES AUCKLANDDirect descendant
01 May 2017Dallas Ray MorungaAuckland , New ZealandDirect descendant
25 April 2017EdithAuckland Other

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