William Shelly was Edmund Shelly's brother, younger by five years. He was born in Adelaide in 1894 and became a labourer after leaving school. He joined up to fight in World War I with his brother Edmund (on 19 August 1914 - service number 104, 10th Infantry Battalion, AIF), and was shipped out to Egypt the next day (!). He took part in the landing at Gallipoli and later wrote a letter back to the Adelaide Advertiser about the experience. According to his Service Record he contracted a sexually-transmitted disease in Egypt (as did Edmund) and was shipped back to Australia in August 1915. He didn't linger in Australia, and re-embarked for Egypt in March 1916. Shortly after arriving in Egypt he was again taken to hospital for venereal disease treatment. His service record does not give any other details before he was shipped to England. By mid-December he had arrived in France.

During his time in France William went on leave to England several times, and apparently visited Edmund (stationed in England, where his wife was also now living). There he signed his sister-in-law's autograph album (HT 27665) on several occasions and did a couple of little drawings.

It was in early 1918 that things started to go really downhill for William George, first he got 28 days for “conduct to the prejudice etc.” In early March 1918 he “absented himself without leave from the line” and was apprehended by the military police after four days. He was sentenced to eight years in prison. This sentence was suspended; however, 20 days later he deserted again, and this time for almost three weeks. When he got back to the army in mid May he was sentenced to 10 years penal servitude. He served two years of this sentence at Lewes detention barracks in England before being shipped home to Australia in July 1919.

William George Shelly died 28 June 1951. His funeral was held at his brother Ned's house.


Service record, William Shelly, National Archives of Australia

Adelaide Advertiser "Family Notices" June 29th 1951

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