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Contributors to Autograph Album (HT 27665) of Elizabeth Louise Shelly

Autograph Album - World War I, circa 1916

Image: Autograph Album - World War I, circa 1916

Source: Museum Victoria

Many people signed the World War I autograph album HT 27666, which most likely belonged to Elizabeth Louise Shelly (nee Floyd), the wife of Edmund 'Ned' Shelly from Adelaide. She sailed from Adelaide to join her solider husband in England in September-October 1916. Those who signed the album included Ned, his brother William, fellow soldiers and shipboard passengers. (Separate historical accounts have been written for Ned and Elizabeth, and for William.)

Sidney R. Dudley

Sidney or Sydney Dudley was a 27 year old assistant artist who sailed with the RMS Omrah to England. He boarded the ship in Sydney. Little information has been located about him except that he travelled on the Omrah and made two drawings in Elizabeth Shelly's autograph album. One of his drawings depicts a soldier waking through a doorway and carries the caption ?Goodbye, maybe forever?.

John Joseph Shelly & Lillian Myrtle Shelly

John Joseph Shelly married Lillian Myrtle Shelly before the war. It's not known how he fits in to the Shelly family, but he is from the same area and Lillian made an entry in the album before it left Adelaide. It's likely that John was related to the rest of the Shelly's (possibly a cousin?). John left Australia in August 1916 (just two weeks before Elizabeth sailed with the RMS Omrah). He served for four months in France before he was put out of action by a gunshot wound to his hand. It was during his time in hospital in England that he made some entries to the album. John was later sent home to Australia and discharged in January 1918.

John Joseph Shelly died 8 August 1965. Lillian Myrtle Shelly died on 4 May 1969.

Robert George Downey Andrews

Robert George Downey Andrews was an English-born Western Australian soldier who passed through the camp at Weymouth in late 1916 and wrote in Elizabeth's album 24 November 1916, just a day before he shipped out to France. He went on to win the Military Medal and finished the war as a lieutenant.

George & Florence Trotman

George Trotman was an English-born soldier who joined the AIF in New South Wales in early 1914. He took part in the Gallipoli campaign and was wounded in the arm. He spent the next two years serving with the No 2 Command Depot in Weymouth, where he and his wife Florence signed the album on 30 October 1916. George was sent to the front in France in 1917 and was sent back to Australia and discharged in August 1918. After the war George Trotman spent most of his time in and out of hospitals before he died in 1951.

William & Phillip Charles Martens

William and Phillip Charles Martens were brothers from Maitland in New South Wales.

The older brother, William, enlisted on 12 August 1915 and served in France, where he was wounded in the leg and in the chin in August 1916 and sent to England. While he was recuperating he passed through No 2 Command Depot in Weymouth and wrote a poem about the trenches in the album.

William Martens was killed in action on 7 June 1916 and is commemorated at the Menin Gate memorial in Ypres, Belgium.

The younger brother, Phillip Charles, enlisted on 28 September 1914. He recived a gunshot wound in the right thumb during the Gallipoli campaign. He served with No 2 Command Depot from October 1916 until June 1917. During this time he made an undated entry in the album.  From Weymouth he then went to the front in France where he was wounded in action in September 1918 and was shipped home to Australia. During his time in England Phillip married a girl named Florence May Martens, who made an entry in the album dated 1 November 1916 signed 'F m Martens'.

George William Carless

George William was born in Plymouth, England and enlisted in Western Australia on 13 October 1914. He is listed as a batman for a Captain Knight during the Gallipoli campaign until August 1915, when he was admitted and shipped to England because of 'insanity'. He spent the rest of 1915 and most of 1916 at a military hospital in Camberwell in London before he was transferred to No 2 Command Depot in Weymouth where he served as a cook. On Easter Day 1916 he and his wife signed the album.

David Henry Thulborn

David Henry was from the same part of Adelaide as the Shellys and shares the same surname as Edmund Shelly's mother's maiden name, Thulborn. It is highly likely that he is closely related to the Shelly family. David Henry enlisted in March 1917, but according to his enlistment papers he had previously tried to enlist and been deemed unfit because of a hernia. He spent the rest of the war working in the ration stores at No 2 Command Depot in Weymouth where he signed the album on 13 January 1918. David Henry Thulborn died April 25th 1945. (Adelaide Advertiser - 28 April 1945)

References:

Service records, National Archives of Australia

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