John Shakespear Bartley was born at Armidale, New South Wales, the son of Henry and Priscilla, in 1889. Bartley worked as a hospital wardsman and had served with the St. George’s Rifle Regiment of New South Wales before the outbreak of the First World War. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 11 January 1916, aged 26, and was assigned to the Depot Battalion before transferring to the 30th Battalion. Bartley embarked at Sydney on 9 April 1916 aboard HMAT Nestor.
After a short period training in Egypt, Bartley proceeded to England, to continue his training Whilst in England, Bartley undertook a sightseeing holiday with his friend 2929 Private George Gott, and details of this tour are recorded in his diary. Bartley joined his unit in France during September 1916. He remained with his battalion as it rotated in and out of the front line, during the later months of 1916. In early 1917, the German Army withdrew to the Hindenburg Line, and during the Allies advance the 30th Battalion occupied Bapaume in March 1917. Bartley details this occupation in his diary, as well as number of battles during 1917, including Bullecourt, Polygon Wood and Ypres.
In April 1918 Bartley received a gunshot wound to the thigh and was repatriated to England for convalescence. He returned to his unit in August 1918 and participated in the battle of St. Quentin Canal.
John Bartley arrived back in Australia during August 1919. In 1921, he married Cora Simpson and spent his post-war life working as a tram conductor in Sydney. John Shakespear Bartley died 27 October 1965 at Woolooware in Sydney, aged 76.