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Autograph Album - Elizabeth Louisa Shelly, World War I, RMS Omrah, 1916-1920 Document Reg. No: HT 27665

Alternative Name(s): Autograph Book

World War I period autograph album with gilt edged pages and floral cloth covers, with dated entries on every page, together with war-related ink sketches and a watercolour. Containing many entries from AIF member and several entries made on a voyage of the ship RMS Omrah, the album reflects one of the ways soldiers memorialized their experiences of war. (RMS stands for Royal Mail Ship or Royal Mail Steamer.)

The album most likely belonged to Elizabeth Louisa Shelly (nee Floyd), who brought it with her on her journey to England on the RMS Omrah in September-October 1916. Her husband, Edmund 'Ned' Shelly, had been posted to Egypt, then England, as a soldier. Edmund served as a cook at the No 2 Command Depot in Weymouth. The album contains entries made by several members of the Shelly family, both in Australia and serving overseas. The album also contains entries from other soldiers serving with the No 2 Command Depot in Weymouth as well as local civilians.

The Omrah was built in 1899 and served as a passenger ship before being refitted as a troopship by the Admiralty for service in World War I. It was part of the convoy the carried the first contingent to Egypt, departing in September 1914; Commonwealth control of Omrah ceased on 2 October 1915 (some sources say 10 Feb 1915). It was then given back to its owners, the Orient Line (according to image caption 00040957 in the National Library). In January 1917 it was again used to take Australian soldiers to war. It was sunk in the Mediterranean on 12 May 1918, with the loss of one life.

One entry features a colour drawing of a soldier walking out a door, with the inscription 'Goodbye; Maybe forever'. It is signed Sidney R. Dudley. Some signatures are in French.
Autograph album, hard cover, covered with green cloth and decorated with purple flower with green foliage. The pages are variously blue, pink and white, with gold on edges of paper, visible only when album is closed. Marbled paper lines the front and back of the album.

One entry is in French and there is another short entry in Spanish. The album includes a leaf inscribed in pen 'T. OCONNOR'. Illustrations include a coloured line drawing of a bird on a 'fish cake', inscribed 'Quoth the Raven / Never more!'; and, drawn by a skilled artist, a man in a top hat pushing a pram-full of assorted goods and a baby, with the inscription 'FAR-REACHING EFFECT OF THE PUSH'. Near the back, a powerful ink drawing of two soldiers is inscribed 'Zero Hour, at / the Front, 1916'. The cover has come adrift of the spine.
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 142 mm (Height), 174 mm (Width)

More information

Tagged with: racism, defence forces, postal services, world war i fundraising, world war i 1914-1918, making history - war diaries and correspondence
Themes this item is part of: Public Life & Institutions Collection, Private William George Shelly, AIF (1894-1951), Private Edmund Shelly, AIF (1889-1959) & Elizabeth Louisa Shelly, Contributors to Autograph Album (HT 27665) of Elizabeth Louise Shelly, Autograph Album (HT 27665) of Elizabeth Louise Shelly, RMS Omrah, circa 1916
On Display at: Melbourne Museum
Primary Classification: MILITARY HISTORY
Secondary Classification: Souvenirs & Mementoes
Tertiary Classification: autograph books
Inscriptions: On cover: 'Autographs'. Various other inscriptions - autographed throughout.
Ship Depicted: ., 1916-1918
Date Made: 1916-1920
Person Named: Sergeant Edmund Shelly, 1916-1918
Person Named: Mrs Elizabeth Shelly, 1916-1918
Person Named: Private William George Shelly, 1918
Person Named: Mr Sidney Dudley, 1916
Person Named: Private John Joseph Shelly, 1916-1918
Person Named: Mrs Lillian Shelly, 1916
Person Named: Lieutenant Robert Andrews, 1916
Person Named: Mr George Trotman, 1916-1918
Person Named: Mrs Florence Trotman, 1916-1918
Person Named: Mr William Martens, 1916-1918
References: Information on the World War I service of Ernest Samuel Hazeldine from National Archives, barcode 4749247, accessed 15 Nov 2010.

Information on the Omrah from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Omrah; http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/P01235.001; http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/H02226.


Claire Newman Posted on 07 Apr 2014 6:08 AM
I have the same autograph album! It belonged to my husband's grandmother who was a nurse at the Bruce Cole hospital in Bristol, England; most of the entries are dated 1917.

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