The AIF Project


Regimental number2350
Place of birthBelfast, Co. Antrim, Ireland
True NameSHARKEY, John
ReligionRoman Catholic
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation27
Height5' 4.5"
Weight160 lbs
Next of kinBrother, Patrick Devlin, 24 Falls Road, Belfast, Ireland
Previous military serviceServed in the 4th Infantry Regiment.
Enlistment date5 May 1915
Place of enlistmentLiverpool, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name1st Battalion, 7th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/18/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A67 Orsova on 14 July 1915
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll1st Battalion
FateKilled in Action 05-8 May 1917
Date of death05-8 May 1917
Age at death from cemetery records32
Commemoration detailsAustralian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Villers-Bretonneux is a village about 15 km east of Amiens. The Memorial stands on the high ground ('Hill 104') behind the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, which is about 2 km north of Villers-Bretonneux on the east side of the road to Fouilloy.

The Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux is approached through the Military Cemetery, at the end of which is an open grass lawn which leads into a three-sided court. The two pavilions on the left and right are linked by the north and south walls to the back (east) wall, from which rises the focal point of the Memorial, a 105 foot tall tower, of fine ashlar. A staircase leads to an observation platform, 64 feet above the ground, from which further staircases lead to an observation room. This room contains a circular stone tablet with bronze pointers indicating the Somme villages whose names have become synonymous with battles of the Great War; other battle fields in France and Belgium in which Australians fought; and far beyond, Gallipoli and Canberra.

On the three walls, which are faced with Portland stone, are the names of 10,885 Australians who were killed in France and who have no known grave. The 'blocking course' above them bears the names of the Australian Battle Honours.

After the war an appeal in Australia raised £22,700, of which £12,500 came from Victorian school children, with the request that the majority of the funds be used to build a new school in Villers-Bretonneux. The boys' school opened in May 1927, and contains an inscription stating that the school was the gift of Victorian schoolchildren, twelve hundred of whose fathers are buried in the Villers-Bretonneux cemetery, with the names of many more recorded on the Memorial. Villers-Bretonneux is now twinned with Robinvale, Victoria, which has in its main square a memorial to the links between the two towns.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
See "Sharkey" the true family name. Parents: James and Jane SHARKEY
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Admitted to Australian Casualty Clearing Station, 8 October 1915 (diarrhoea); transferred to Malta, 10 October 1915, and admitted to St George's Hospital, 15 October 1915; to England, 3 November 1915, and admitted to 3rd Southern General Hospital, Oxford, 12 November 1915.

Commenced return to Mediterranean Expeditionary Force from Australian and New Zealand Base, Weymouth, with 26th Draft, 25 March 1916; disembarked Alexandria, 6 April 1916. Transferred to 53rd Bn, Tel el Kebir, 29 May 1916.

Proceeded to England en route to joining the British Expeditionary Force (date not recorded).

Admitted to Delhi Hospital, Perham Downs, 10 July 1916; discharged, 19 July 1916 (no details recorded).

Admitted to Delhi Hospital, 21 July 1916; discharged, 22 July 1916 (no details recorded).

Proceeded overseas to France, 25 July 1916; marched into 1st Australian Division Base Depot, Etaples, 26 July 1916.

Found guilty, 16 December 1916, of (1) an act to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, 11 December 1916; (2) while under arrest making an escape, 12 December 1916; (3) being absent without leave from 9.15 pm, 12 December, to 9.15 pm, 15 December 1916: awarded 14 days' Field Punishment No 2 and forfeited 4 days' pay. Marched into detention, Etaples, 16 December 1916; marched out to unit from detention, 27 December 1916.

Killed in action, 5-8 May 1917.

Note on file: Buried in the vicinity of Bullecourt.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

A.H. Barnes, Police Constable, Auckland, New Zealand, stated, 22 April 1920: 'I respectfully report having interviewed William J. Sharkey, he informed me that his brother John Sharkey deceased assumed the name Devlin in November 1914 in order to get out of New Zealand owing to some trouble he had got himself into in Napier, he the deceased went to Australia and on joining the Military Forces there still used the name Devlin to conceal his identity. After deceased (John Sharkey) had gone to Australia he (William J. Sharkey) paid the solicitor (B.J. Dolan) who had been acting for his brother in Napier. William J. Sharkey showed me a letter he had received from 84 Falls Road, Belfast, Ireland from his sister (Mary Sharkey) informing him of the death of there (sic) brother (Patrick Sharkey) killed in action in France. This brother Patrick Sharkey had been left as next of kin of John Sharkey alias Devlin. Having assumed the name Devlin he evidently gave his brother's name as Devlin, this being the name shown on the Military File. William J. Sharkey states that perhaps the best evidence he can offer, is to refer the Military Authorities to St Peter's Church R.C. Belfast, where his late brother Patrick and John Sharkey alias Devlin were christened ... William J. Sharkey has one brother and two sisters aliv, one sister is in Ireland and the other is in Scotland, having shifted there since the war ... The brother James Sharkey is an (sic) Hairdresser in Taumarunui ...'
SourcesNAA: B2455, DEVLIN John

Print format