70 years ago this month
Reconnaissance and patrols are undertaken to ready for the Battalion's attack on the Cassino railway station. The attack saw the unit suffer over 100 casualties in less than 24 hours, the heaviest of any of the New Zealand units. Read the war diary for February 1944 here
Read a biography of Shelford, in English and te reo Māori, on the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography = Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau website
This article appeared in the April 1986 The Battalion Remembers II booklet.
To learn of the death of a soldier friend in violent circumstances so long after he has survived so many other violent occasions is a very sad thing. And when one is not able to attend the tangihanga, which is after all a time of shared grief, the occasion becomes that much sadder.
We were sitting at the breakfast table in Canton when Derek Fox who was with us as one of Hiwi Tauroa's party to China, approached us and said that he had bad news - Charlie Shelford had been killed in a car accident on Manukau Road. Bad news indeed.
My taha pakeha has not always been fully appreciative of Unveiling Ceremonies, but this was one time, at least, when I was very grateful for the opportunity to attend Charlie's Unveiling, the hakari at Te Ungi Waka and the gathering at the Newmarket RS Club.
Those of you who read the account of Charlie by Rangi Logan and me in our last Reunion magazine will know that we held Charlie in very high regard. We understood, though we didn't necessarily know all the details, many of his difficulties of rehabilitation in post-war Auckland and we admired his devotion to his family and to his Battalion comrades. Charlie Shelford was a fine soldier and though we grieve for his family we rejoice that he was one of us for so long. He had his own special brand of humour and he was a fantastic mover on the dancefloor.
The lone frame that hangs above the bar in the Newmarket Returned Services Club contains our General's congratulations to Charlie on his Immediate Award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal and a youthful portrait of Charlie himself - a silent tribute to one of 28 NZEF (Maori) Battalion's most famous soldiers.