1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Henry Kelly

Contributed by: Margaret Thomas, on 2008-11-01

No portrait available
First Name Henry
Surname Kelly
Year of Birth 1880
Year of Death 1915
Regiment Middlesex Regiment
Place of Wartime Residence London, Greater London

Henry's Story

My mother is 95 years of age and still living independently. Her father-in-law and her father signed up to join during WW1, at the ages of 35 and 40 respectively. Her father-in-law, Henry John Kelly (1880-1915) did not survive the war. He joined up on Dec 31st 1914, presumably, where he lived in Poplar. He enlisted in the Duke of Cambridge's Own Middlesex Regiment ( 2nd Battalion). He was killed at the battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915. His last words to his wife ( my grandmother) were " look after my son " referring to my father and my mother's late husband. He was a member of the Territorial Army at that time and I find it strange that he was sent to the front line at the age of 35 with a 5 year old son. According to my mother and grandmother, the story is that he was sent to the front line because of a minor misdemeanour which took place whilst he was serving with the TA not long before. My grandmother received news of his death on 29th September 1915 - six months later and only after making four separate enquiries of the Infantry Record Office in Hounslow. One reply she received was a handwritten note from Captain Reginald James Young, Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion Duke of Cambridge's Own Middlesex Regiment who advised her that her husband was missing. A visit to the Royal Army Museum a couple of years ago revealed that Captain Young won the Military Cross at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He died, presumably of his wounds , - in 1919 - there is a painting of him in combat in the Army Museum.

My mother's father, Peter Forster ( 1875 - 1940 ), survived WW1. He voluntereed for military service in that war - presumably for the one-off gratuity. He served with the East Yorkshire Regiment (Seventh Battalion) in France. Before WW1, he had already served in India during the 1890's ( for some eght years ) (having joined the Second Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment in 1894 ) and the Boer War thereafter. His full military service record - if it has survived - has still to be researched by me. He died in 1940 before the NHS came into being and after suffering an injury whilst he worked for Newnes & Pearson ( publishers ). He was hospitalised in the summer of 1940 at St Thomas's Hospital, Lambeth and from there was transferred to the Metropolitan Convalescent Institute in Walton on Thames where he died on 24th October. He received no pension for his long military service - only the bills for hospitalisation and maintenance which he, personally, payed for a short period. The remaining bills were paid by my mother and her brother.

Surely, the financial burden of his care should have fallen on the purse of the country which he had served for many many years and not on the very limited resources of himself and his family.

An inglorious end !!

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