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Full Name: Charles Shelford
Rank Last Held: Private
Forename(s): Charles
Surname: Shelford
Also Known As: Charlie
War: World War II, 1939-1945
Serial No.: 39159
  • Ngati Porou
  • Nga Puhi
  • Te Arawa
  • Te Whakatohea
Gender: Male
Date of Birth: 22 August 1921
Place of Birth: Te Kaha, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
First Known Rank: Private
Occupation before Enlistment: Labourer
Next of Kin: Mrs Teowaina Shelford (mother), Tikitiki, New Zealand
Marital Status: Single
Enlistment Address: Wainui Beach, Gisborne, New Zealand
Physical Description:
  • Height: 5 foot 10 1/2 inches
  • Eyes: brown
  • Hair: Black
Enlistment Date: 26 January 1940
Military District: Gisborne
Body on Embarkation:
  • 4th Reinforcements
  • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF)
Embarkation Unit: 28 (Maori) Battalion, C Company
Embarkation Date: 8 November 1940
Destination: Egypt
Nominal Roll Number: WW2 3
Page on Nominal Roll: WW2 430
Other Units: Transferred to D Company Maori Battalion 1941
  • North Africa
  • Italy
Military Awards:
  • Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)
  • 1939-1945 Star
  • Africa Star (8th Army clasp)
  • Italy Star
  • Defence Medal
  • War Medal 1939-1945
  • New Zealand War Service Medal
Award Circumstances:
  • 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.
Wounds and Diseases:
  • Egypt, Camp Hospital 19-23 February 1941
  • Hospitalised immediately after the Gazala incident with leg injuries
Discharge Date: 3 February 1945
Last Unit Served: 28 (Maori) Battalion, D Company
Reason for Discharge: End of war
Place of Death: Manukau Road, Epsom, Auckland, New Zealand
Date of Death: 7 May 1984
Age at Death: 63
Year of Death: 1984
Cause of Death: Killed as a pedestrian in a hit and run road accident
Cemetery Name: Mangere Public Cemetery, Auckland, New Zealand
Obituary: Death Notice: RSA Review Last Post
Biographical Notes:
  • 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 Servicemens 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
Postwar Occupation: Drainlayer
Description of Image:
  • Portrait; original held in the Tairawhiti Museum, Gisborne
  • Headstone, Mangere Public Cemetery
Further References:
Sources Used:
  • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force Nominal Roll No. 3 (Embarkations from 1st July, 1940 to 31st March, 1941)
  • Cenotaph data entry form
  • Unpublished papers: family papers
  • Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. URL:
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