John Vivian ShelbyJohn Vivian Shelby MBE (military), TD, MA, FSA was born on Friday, 13 May 1907 at Brymbo, Wrexham, where he spent his childhood. He won the country scholarship (there was also a town scholarship) to attend Grove Park School, Wrexham and subsequently read English at Exeter College, Oxford. At Oxford he studied English Language and Literature and was a Skeat Scholar (achieved by examination on Chaucer). He was President of the Oxford University Archaeological Society. Two of his tutors at Oxford were Neville Coghill and Tolkein. His father wanted him to become articled to his mother’s cousin, William Pierce Owen, but this did not appeal to John. Instead, he followed up the suggestion of someone the Morgan-Owens knew through football and went to teach at Wellesley House Prep. School, Broadstairs, one of top three preparatory schools in England. He was there between 1929 and 1939. His hopes for a partnership in the school were interrupted by the War.
In 1936 he had joined the Territorial Army as a Lieutenant. On the outbreak of war his initial posting to Norway was cancelled and he joined 235 Royal Artillery Regt (Cinque Ports) [235th Hvy Bty RA]. The only gunnery defence of the South East of England at that time were four guns at Chatham and four at Sheerness so they were kept very busy. He and Sgt. Maj. Epps both got the BEM for carrying a bomb with an unstable, ticking fuse out of the supplies during the Blitz of Chatham. John was later awarded an MBE. He was due to go to the Near East – he had had all the inoculations, etc – but was sent instead to Staff College at Camberley. (All three regimental batteries in the Near East were subsequently wiped out). He was then sent to 2nd Anti-Aircraft Corps, GSO2 (General Staff Officer, Major) in Intelligence then GSO2 Operations responsible for directing positions of troops. He went on to become Senior Anti-Aircraft Liaison Officer 10 Fighter Group RAF at Rudloe near Bath – in 1943 he was living at nearby Corsham - and finally Chief Instructor at Ac-Ac Command Staff College, Theobalds Park, near Enfield.