Newsletter No. 500
The September meeting was opened by the Vice Chairman Lt. Col. Dr. Graeme Fuller.
After completing the announcements the Chairman introduced the speaker for the DDH, current Branch Chairman, Roy Bowman who was to present THE DAM BUSTERS, WERE THEY SUCCESSFUL?
At 21h28 on 16th May 1943, the first of 19 Avro Lancaster heavy bombers lifted off the runway of RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire, into a clear, still summer night.
It was another British raid on the Ruhr region of Germany. The industrial heartland of Hitler's war machine was straining to produce tanks, ammunition and aircraft for a final, titanic assault on the Soviet Red Army on the Eastern Front.
British aircraft had been levelling entire neighbourhoods, blasting and incinerating homes, factories and people in a series of massive but clumsy blows.
This raid was different! This was a raid aimed with astonishing precision against a choke point in Germany's production chain. As such it was the ancestor of today's "smart bombs" and surgical strikes.
It was a raid sent to destroy a series of mighty dams, the Moehne, Eder and Sorpe Dams, wreaking havoc with the Ruhr's vital water supplies. Known as "Operation Chastise" to its planners, it is remembered simply as the DAMBUSTERS RAID!
The story of the Lancaster's that left Scampton that night is remarkable for many reasons. There was the ingenuity of the weapon they carried - a purpose-built bomb, codenamed "UPKEEP", designed by the brilliant Barnes Wallis to bounce along the surface of water like a skimming stone, to avoid obstacles placed in its way.
The skill and the bravery of the pilots who flew at night, at 100ft (30M) or less over enemy territory, is breathtaking. They flew so low that one hit the sea, which tore off the under-slung bomb and scooped up seawater into the fuselage, while another was engulfed in flame as it ploughed into overhead high voltage cables.
The aircraft that did make it to the dams pressed home their attacks, with a reckless disregard for their own safety. The results certainly impressed the world at the time - two dams were breached and a third damaged.
As flood-water surged down the valleys, factories and infrastructure were badly affected. The combination of science, flying skills, grit and the obvious impact of the raids made it front page news around the world and turned the Dam-busters into celebrities.
The post-war film, enduringly popular, cemented the raid in the popular consciousness. Yet this celebration of the raid provoked a backlash. Experts such as Sir Charles Webster and Noble Frankland, the official historians of the Strategic Air Offensive, believed that it was oversold, its achievements exaggerated and other Bomber Command raids unfairly ignored.
These voices point to the speed at which the dams were repaired and production of energy, steel and other armaments resumed. British planners had known that the success of the raid largely depended on the German ability to rebuild the dams in time to store up the Autumn rains.
The Germans certainly rose to the challenge: the dams, which had taken five years to build, were repaired by armies of forced labourers working around the clock, in just five months.
A major hydroelectric power station at Herdecke was out of action for weeks, NOT months, thanks to a similarly herculean effort. Thousands of troops, Hitler Youth, prisoners of war and enslaved workers were thrown at the task.
Canals were dredged, factories rebuilt river banks re-instated and bridges replaced. Britain's bomber Supremo, Sir Arthur Harris, who had opposed the raid as hair-brained all along, with some justification, wrote later: "I have seen nothing to show that the effort was worthwhile, except as a spectacular operation".
Senior Nazis downplayed the damage after the war. Albert Speer, the German armaments minister, expressed amazement that the repair operations were left untroubled by further bombing raids which would have delayed the vital reconstruction and turned a nuisance into a major crisis.
Time has thrown up a wealth of information about the impact of the raids, much of it unavailable to an earlier generation of historians.
In James Holland's book, "DAM BUSTERS: THE RACE TO SMASH THE DAMS", he states that" it is time to put the record straight". He insists that the damage was "absolutely enormous" and it was an "extraordinary achievement".He points out that every bridge for 30 miles below the breached Moehne Dam was destroyed and buildings were damaged 40 miles away. Twelve war production factories were destroyed and around 100 more extensively damaged. Thousands of acres of farmland were ruined!
The Germans instantly referred to it after the raid, as the "Moehne catastrophe". Even the cool Speer admitted that it was quote "a disaster for us for a number of months". German sources attribute a 400,000 - tonne drop in coal production in May 1943 to the damage caused.
Another German report into the effects of the raid talked about "considerable losses of production" caused by "the lack of water" and that many mine shafts, coking plants, smelting works, power stations, fuel plants and armaments factories were shut down for several days."
The fact that a titanic effort was made to repair this damage, shows how high a priority the dams were and it meant resources were shifted from elsewhere. Nowhere was this costlier to the Third Reich, than on the beaches of Normandy.
Hitler had ordered the construction of a massive network of defences against an Allied invasion. Now thousands of workers who should have been toiling in France were redirected to the Ruhr to repair the dams. A year later Allied troops would have faced far more significant defences, had it not been for the Dam-Busters Raid.
No raid mounted by so few aircraft, had ever caused such extensive material damage. It did not bring German war production to a permanent halt but nobody had expected it to!
Its critics talk of its propaganda impact as if wars are fought by dispassionate robots rather than soldiers, workers and politicians with all the irrational cauldron of human emotions. Propaganda, as Churchill knew so well, is as much part of war as killing enemy soldiers.
The most important impact of the Dam-busters raid may indeed, have been in convincing people on both sides that the Allies were winning and that, often, is how wars are won and lost.
The two direct hits on the Mohne Dam resulted in a breach of 76 metres wide and 292 feet deep.
330 million tonnes of water were released into the Ruhr Valley, the torrent reaching 10 metres high and travelling at around 24km/h, flooding four mines, destroying 11 small factories and 92 houses. 114 factories and 971 houses were damaged. The floods washed away 25road and rail bridges as the waters spread 80kms from the source.
The greatest impact on the Ruhr armaments production was the loss of hydro-electric power. Two power stations, producing 5,100kw were destroyed and seven others were damaged. Immediate steps were taken to bring in power from other grids and within two weeks many factories and households had power restored. The flooded mines cut coal production by 400,000 tonnes causing shortages throughout Germany.
Records show that 1,650 people lost their lives, 1026 were POW's and forced labourers.
By 27th June, full water output was restored and the electricity grid was again producing power at full capacity.
7,000 construction workers were taken off construction of "THE ATLANTIC WALL" and sent to rebuild the two damaged dams and dredge the Mittelandkanal well as restore power to the arms factories.
The German hierarchy could not understand why the Allies did not follow up the raid with more raids on the dams which would have killed thousands of the construction workers and disrupted the restoration.
The effect on food production was highly significant as an entire season's crops were swept away together with entire herds of stall fed cattle. These shortages were felt up until the fifties.
It would be remiss of me to not talk about one of the heroes of this raid and I have chosen Flight Lieutenant John Vere Hopgood DFC and Bar who was in command of Lancaster M for Mother during the attack on the Moehne Dam.
As Gibson's second in command on Operation Chastise, Flight Lieutenant Hopgood was part of the leading element of three Avro Lancaster. He was flying alongside Wing Commander Guy Gibson in G for George and Flight Lieutenant Harold "Mick" Martin in P for Popsie in the first wave of aircraft detailed to attack the Moehne Dam.
Flying at tree top height to avoid enemy radar and fighters, the flight of three Lancasters ran into an unexpectedly intense searchlight and flak defence en route over Holland, just one hours flying time from their target. M for Mother was coned in the beams and raked by enemy fire. Her port fuselage took the brunt and her wing was severely damaged; her port outer Merlin engine was hit, causing oil smoke to stream behind her.
Worse however was suffered by her crew!
Burcher, the rear gunner, was hit by shell splinters in the stomach and groin.
Minchin, the wireless operator, had one of his legs almost severed by a cannon shell.
Gregory, the front gunner, was either killed or so seriously wounded that he was unable to answer his intercom or operate his turret.
Hopgood had sustained a severe head wound and was assisted in keeping M for Mother in the air by Brennan, the Flight Engineer.
No thought was given to turning back. Nobody would have blamed them if they had done so but they pressed on, trimming the throttles to compensate for the loss of power from the damaged port outer engine and holding perfect formation with Gibson and Martin. All three Lancasters reached the Moehne Dam!
Gibson made the first attack with his Upkeep Mine exploding underwater against the dam face. As Martin circled in the distance, awaiting his order to attack, Hopgood gathered himself for his, the second, bombing run.
Now, with full knowledge of the British aircraft's method of attack, the German gunners defending the approaches to the dam knew exactly where to concentrate their fire. Equipped with 20mm, four barrel "Flakvierling" anti aircraft cannons, they poured thousands of rounds of tracer fire down the reservoir into Hopgood's path.
Into a blizzard of enemy fire, Hopgood fought to get his Lancaster down to the point where his twin spot lamps met their figure-of-eight, 60 ft off the surface of the water.
Further hits tore into the fuselage, no fire returned from her front turret. She became heavy on the trim but Hopgood held her down to the release point. John Fraser, the Bomb Aimer, called "BOMB GONE".
As the 5 ton mine skimmed the surface for the first time, in a plume of spray, Hopgood's Lancaster took the full force of a 20mm cannon burst right into her starboard wing. Engines and fuel cell were hit and the starboard wing immediately caught fire. The Lancaster would have swung violently under torque as the trim fell to the straining portside engines. Hopgood used all his remaining strength to prevent the Lancaster from dipping a wing into the water. His left hand on the column, he desperately tried to correct the trim wheel with his right. Still taking fire from the twin towers and from a third battery protecting the dam, Hopgood, his starboard wing ablaze, cleared the dam top. And so did his mine!
Released just a second too late, it bounced over the crest and fell deep into the lee of the dam wall, to destroy the power station in an enormous explosion.
For Hopgood there was only one course left. He ordered his crew to prepare to abandon aircraft. He would have known what would happen next. He opened the throttles to summon all the power that his doomed aircraft could give. With little hope remaining he gave his final order to jump. The hydraulics had failed so Burcher, the Rear Gunner, hand cranked his turret round and released the door as Minchin, the Radio Operator, dragged himself the length of the fuselage. Burcher helped the injured Minchin to clip on his parachute, hauled him to the rear escape hatch and pushed him clear, pulling his rip cord as he fell. Minchin's 'chute failed to deploy in time and he did not survive the descent.
Hopgood shouted for the rear gunner to get out of the aircraft as he was struggling to gain enough altitude to enable at least some of his crew to escape before M for Mother stalled and crashed.
At a mere 200 ft above the ground they were the two of the lowest successful bail outs during the war. Both Burcher and Fraser would become POW's for the remainder of the war.
As the two survivors fell into clear space, M for Mother's blazing wing collapsed and the aircraft fell, taking Hopgood and his remaining crew down with her.
Hopgood was just 21 years old!
A refreshment break was called, after which the raffle was drawn.
The Chairman then introduced the speaker for the main talk, Captain Charles Ross (SAN Retired), and his subject
SOUTH AFRICAN HEROES OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR: ACTING LIEUTENANT COLONEL JACK SHERWOOD KELLY VC CMG DSO. OFFICER COMMANDING 1ST BATTALION NORFOLK REGIMENT, THE ROYAL INNISKILLING FUSILIERS, 87TH INFANTRY BRIGADE, 29TH DIVISION.
The twin sons John "Jack" Kelly and Hubert Henry Kelly were born on 13 January 1880 at Lady Frere in the Cape Colony in South Africa as the son's of John James Kelly of Irish decent. There is uncertainty about the origin of the nickname "Sherwood" in his name as he was not named as such nor did he serve with the Sherwood Forrester's. John James Kelly was at one time mayor of Lady Frere and believed in justice for all and was himself a hero. On 08 December 1876 James Kelly saved the lives of 25 people when the Italian ship, SS Nova Bella, ran into trouble at the St John's river mouth.
John attended the Queenstown Grammar School, Dale College in King William's Town and St Andrew's College in Grahamstown. At school John was keener on the outdoor activities such as horse riding and boxing, in which he excelled, than school work. During this period John first lost his mother, with whom he had a very close relationship, when he was only 12 and a year later in 1893 his twin brother Hubert.
In 1896, age 16, Jack enlisted in the British South Africa Police and saw action in the Matabele revolt in the then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Early in 1899 Jack was a member of a Cape Mounted Police detachment that escorted the Governor General of the Cape Colony from Grahamstown to KingWilliamstown. With the outbreak of the South African War (Anglo Boer War) 1899 - 1902 he enlisted in the Southern Rhodesia Volunteers and saw action as a Trooper in the Relief of Mafeking as a Private in Colonel Plumer's Column. On 08 January 1901 John was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Imperial Light Horse (ILH) and later joined Kitchener's Fighting Scouts as a Lieutenant and saw action in Rhodesia, Orange Free State and Transvaal. He was twice mentioned in despatches during this.
After the South African War (Anglo Boer War) 1899 - 1902 he worked in his father's store, but this was not what Jack had in mind. Having resigned his commission he volunteered to serve as a Trooper with the Somaliland Burgher Corps in the 3rd Expedition against Haji Muhammad Abdullah Hassan (known to the British as Mad Mullah) over the period November 1902 to July 1903. During the period he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. In 1904 he was reduced to Trooper and returned to South Africa where he worked first as a trader and later as a recruiter of labour in the Transkei. In 1905/6 he amongst others, saw action during the Zululand Bambatha Rebellion.
Over the period 1906 to 1912 Jack was involved in the family business in Butterworth which was involved in the recruiting of labour for the mines.
Finding a lasting solution for the Irish crisis remained a challenge for the British and in 1910 another attempt failed. The situation deteriorated and by 1912/13 the call went out for "all unionists" to return to Ireland. Being from Irish descent Jack and his brother Edward answered the call and travelled to Ireland where they both joined the Ulster Volunteer Force.
With war clouds gathering over Europe late 1913 and early 1914 the Irish crisis dropped on the list of priorities and by July 1914 Jack and Edward travelled to London. Jack being a man that liked adventure saw the gathering of war clouds as an opportunity for him to become involved. Jack soon joined the 2nd Battalion King Edward's Horse as a Private. With a chest full of medals it was not long before Jack was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. During this time Jack met Nellie Green and soon Jack and Nellie were active in the London social life.
The Gallipoli landings during April 1915 did not go according to plan and casualties on the side of the Allied forces were very high. A call went out for replacements and Jack soon requested to be transferred to Gallipoli for service. Jack's request was granted and during July 1915 Major Jack Kelly joined the Kings' Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) in Gallipoli. The official history reflects the following: "A new Major has joined us. The new Major was a Herculean of Irish-South African origin with a quite remarkable disregard for danger".
As always Jack led his men from the front, which was a little different to what the KOSB's were used to, however his men followed him throughout the merciless and dreadful fighting during August and September 1915.
On 15 October 1915 tragedy struck the KOSB when both the Officer Commanding and the Orderly Officer of the Day were killed. Captain Cookson assumed command of the Battalion during the rest of October and early part of November 1915.
On 21 October 1915 Jack's lungs got badly burned by gas from the Turks and he was evacuated to the hospital, but returned to the frontline on 28 October. After his return Jack led his men in a frontal attack to capture a Turkish trench that was threatening his own forces. Only 6 men returned and Jack was wounded three times. For this Jack was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). The first South African to be awarded the DSO during World War One.
Mid November 1915 saw Jack being promoted to Acting Lieutenant Colonel and appointed as Officer Commanding Kings Own Scottish Borderers. Being a "team man" Jack remained close to his men. Not having come through Sandhurst he had little knowledge of "mess etiquette, stiff upper lip and the old school tie". However Jack was unconventional and he knew how to fight, and that is what he was there to do. He soon got the name "Bomber Kelly" and was pulled out of the front line to command the Bombing School.
During November and December Jack kept up the catapult bombardment of the Turkish Army. During September 1915 the Norfolk and Suffolk Yeomanry were mobilised and deployed to Gallipoli where they arrived on 10 October 1915.
By this time the decision had been taken to withdraw from Gallipoli and deception actions executed. Jack returned to the Yeomanry as an Acting Major for the withdrawal during December 2015 and January 1916. Both the Yeomanry and the Kings Own Scottish Borderers were sent to Egypt to recover with the Yeomanry returning to England soon. Jack was sent on 2 months leave.
During his leave Jack married Nellie Elizabeth Crawford on 22 April 1916. Early May 1916 saw Jack recalled to the front once again in command of a battalion, this time the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as part of the 29th Division preparing for the upcoming Battle of the Somme. Leading his Battalion from the front during fighting in the Beaumont Hamel sector Jack was shot through the lung and saved by Jack Johnson until he could be evacuated back to London.
During a political rally by Jack in November 1923 a woman came up to Nellie and introduced herself as the mother of Stretcher Bearer Jack Johnson. A meeting was arranged between Jack Kelly and Jack Johnson. In an interview with the Derbyshire Times Jack Kelly said "good deal of handshakes and some tears".
During July 1916 Jack and Nellie embarked on a recruiting tour to South Africa where Jack was received as a hero. On his return to England in September 1916 Jack immediately reported for duty. Jack remained in England and on 29 November 1916 received his Distinguish Service Order (DSO) from King George V.
During November 1916 Jack was posted to the 3rd Battalion Kings Own Scottish Borderers as a Major. Very soon after arrival he requested to be transferred to the 10th Norfolk Reserve Battalion.
On 01 January 1917 Jack Sherwood Kelly was awarded the Distinguished Order of St Micheal and St George, Third Class or Companion, post nominal CMG. It is awarded for service to the Empire, probably for Jack's recruiting drive in South Africa during 1916.
In February 1917 Jack was again posted to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as Officer Commanding. Early part of 1917 saw a new British offensive in Vimmy and Arras which was followed by offensives in Ypres and Passchendaele. A smaller offensive was planned for November 1917 in the Cambrai sector, using the new weapon "the Mark 1 Tank".
On 20 November 1917, the opening day of the first Battle of Cambrai, 87th Brigade advanced on Marcoing, three miles south-west of Cambrai. 1st Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, crossed the Canal de St Quentin by the lock east of Marcoing copse. For his gallantry during the crossing of the canal and in leading the attack against the enemy defences on the far side, Acting Lieutenant Colonel J Sherwood-Kelly was awarded the VC. Meanwhile, two companies of 1st Battalion, The Border Regiment, crossed the canal by the railway bridge at Marcoing and one at the lock by the railway station at the north-eastern outskirts of the town. Sergeant C E Spackman was awarded the VC for attacking a machine-gun which threatened this advance.
For this action Jack was awarded the Victoria Cross. The citation reads as follows:
"For most conspicuous bravery and fearless leading when a party of men of another unit detailed to cover the passage of the canal by his battalion were held up on the near side of the canal by heavy rifle fire directed on the bridge. Lieutenant Colonel Sherwood-Kelly at once ordered covering fire, personally led the leading company of his battalion across the canal and, after crossing, reconnoitred under heavy rifle fire and machine gun fire the high ground held by the enemy. The left flank of his battalion advancing to the assault of this objective was held up by a thick belt of wire, where upon he crossed to that flank, and with a Lewis gun team, forced his way under heavy fire through obstacles, got the gun into position on the far side, and covered the advance of his battalion through the wire, thereby enabling them to capture the position. Later, he personally led a charge against some pits from which a heavy fire was being directed on his men, captured the pits, together with five machine guns and forty six prisoners, and killed a large number of the enemy. The great gallantry displayed by this officer throughout the day inspired the greatest confidence in his men, and it was mainly due to his example and devotion to duty that his battalion was enabled to capture and hold their objective".
The Germans launched a counter attack which was successfully repelled by the 29th Division during which time Acting Captain A. M. Lascelles, another South African hero, of the 14th Durham Light Infantry was awarded a Victoria Cross. Jack returned to a hospital in London having been gassed again.
On 11 January 1918 the London Gazette reported that Jack had been awarded the Victoria Cross which he received from King George on 23 January 1918 at Buckingham Palace.
During February 1918 Jack once again returned to South Africa on a recruiting drive. Following a speech in East London in the Eastern Cape Jack was reported and recalled back to England where he was reprimanded and remained with the Norfolk Yeomanry.
In August 1918 Jack was put in charge of the troop ship HMS CITY OF KARACHI carrying South African troops. During the trip the Officers revolted, sighting his bullying tactics and derogatory statements about South African troops. Jack apologised and narrowly escaped being court martial.
Jack served the rest of the war as Officer Commanding the Norfolk Yeomanry.
During the war a number of Allied personnel were deployed in Northern Russia. In January 1917 the first signs of the Russian revolution became visible as a number of cities and towns in Russia fell to the Bolsheviks. The revolution soon gained momentum raising concern back in the United Kingdom with specific reference to the British forces still deployed in Northern Russia.
Early 1919 saw the demobilisation of the British Forces with only a small number of each Regiment retained for training purposes. But with the situation in Russia deteriorating a call went out calling for volunteers for a "Rescue Force" to facilitate the withdrawal of all British Forces from Northern Russia. This "Rescue Force" had a twist in the tail. Jack Kelly immediately volunteered for service and was appointed as Officer Commanding of the 2nd Battalion Hampshire Regiment. The strength of the "Rescue Force" was approximately 8 000.
The various Battalions mobilised and on 13 May 1919 the SS Stephen sailed from England arriving off the shore of Archangel, Northern Russia on 21 May 1919 with a sense of excitement. What is interesting, and could it be a record of some sorts, is that there were 6 winners of the Victoria Cross on board. They included Brigadier General G. W. St George Grogan VC CMG DSO and Bar - The Worcestershire Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel D. C. Johnson VC DSO MC - The South Wales' Borderers, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sherwood Kelly VC CMG DSO - Hampshire Regiment, Captain A. C. T. White VC MC - The Yorkshire Regiment, Lieutenant M. Moore VC - The Hampshire Regiment and Lieutenant A. M. Toye VC MC - The Middlesex Regiment.
Soon after arrival The Hampshire Regiment deployed to its area of responsibility which necessitated travelling up the Dwina River by barge. Aware of the possible threats Jack had all the Machine Guns pointing outward resulting in the convoy labelled "Kelly's Mystery Ships". On arrival in their area of responsibility Jack again led from the front with him leading patrols to get to know the area. Brigadier General Grogan praised Jack for this.
Very soon Jack realised that what they were sent for was not what they were expected to do and as such he openly criticised the plan of General Ironside resulting in Jack being a "marked" man. This came to a head during an operation during which the Hampshire's were to be supported by "White Russian Forces". Having spent more than 6 hours waiting for the "White Russian Force" Jack realised that the Hampshire's were being surrounded by Bolsheviks and he withdrew the Hampshire's to save his men.
This did not go down well at General Headquarters. General Grogan accepted Jack's decision, but not General Ironside. Jack took this further in June 1919 when ordered to attack a Bolshevik block house Jack wrote to the General in Command of the Area. This once again did not go down well with General Headquarters. When the Intelligence Officer attached to the Hampshire's reported to General Ironside about Jack's open criticism of his plan Ironside wrote a very negative report on Jack in his diary. Soon after this, on 08 August 1919 Jack was released of his Command of the 2nd Battalion The Hampshire Regiment and sent home. General Ironside made the statement "if he (Jack) was a regular officer he would have court martialed him".
As Jack Kelly never waived the opportunity for a fight he now took his fight to the media and on 06 September 1919 he wrote to the Daily Express stating "that it was war on the Bolshevik and not a rescue or withdrawal operation". This was not well received by Winston Churchill who began to feel the heat. Jack was always used to facing his enemy "face to face' so he was not prepared for the 'war of words" that was unleashed by Winston Churchill. This was followed up with a second letter that was published on 13 September 1919. Jack insisted that he be court martialed and he be given the opportunity to tell his side to the story,
His court martial took place on 28 October 1919 where Jack was subjected to an attack on his person. In his defence Jack stated: "he volunteered because he believed it was a rescue mission", the men that volunteered "had served King and Country during 5 years of war" and "that he did his duty to the Throne and to the best of his ability and that he had a duty to protect his men". Jack received a severe reprimand.
Jack's action did however ensure that all British forces were rapidly withdrawn from North Russia. Years later when Soldiers and Sailors from the United Kingdom received awards and medals from the "White Russians" Jack's name was not on the list of recipients.
After retirement from the military in 1919 Jack battled to settle down to civilian life with Nellie and frequently applied to be taken back into the military, without success. His life with his wife Nellie was never easy and while there were times when all seemed to be well, it remained a challenge.
Having been accepted by the Conservative Party, Jack once again found himself "on the war path", preparing for the elections on 06 December 1923, in the Clay Cross constituency, a Labour stronghold. During the campaign trail Jack once again had Nellie at his side. Unfortunately Jack lost the election, but was able to cut the Labour majority considerably.
In preparation of the 1924 elections Jack addressed a rally in Langwith on 24 October 1924. During the rally a heckler called Jack a liar. Jack walked up to the person and requested that he withdraw his statement. When the person refused Jack flattened him. Once again Jack was not successful in the elections on 29 October 1924, but once again was able to reduce the Labour majority considerably. Jack then left the political area.
On 26 October 1926 Jack, dressed in full dress uniform with a chest full of medals which included the Victoria Cross, was asked to lay a wreath at Horse Guards' Parade on behalf of the Ypres League as part of the then annual commemoration of the sacrifices made at Ypres during the Great War.
Jack spent the rest of 1926 and much of 1927 working for Bolivia Concessions Limited, building a road across Bolivia. It is here that he contracted malaria.
On his return to England his health deteriorated after a lifetime of hurt and punishment. During this period Jack was discovered by Sir Arthur Du Cross who owned Craigwell House near Bognor. This is where King George V had been resident whilst recovering from illness. Jack was appointed as agent of the house and spent 1928 and 1929 marketing the house to the public.
Jack was admitted to Kensington Nursing Home with malaria during July 1931. It is interesting that he was admitted here and not in Bognor where he lived. Could it be that Nellie had a hand in this?
Jack passed away on 18 August 1931 and he was given a full military funeral. His coffin was draped with the Union Jack on a gun carriage of the Royal Field Artillery accompanied by a guard of honour from the Grenadier Guards and was buried in the Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey. Members of the Royal British Legion attended the funeral. Notably was the absence of Nellie.
During his military career Jack was awarded the following medals and decorations: Victoria Cross 1917, The Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George - Third Class or Companion (CMG) 1917, Distinguished Service Order (DSO) 1916, British South Africa Company Medal 1890 - 97 with Clasp Matabeleland, Queen's South Africa Medal 1899 - 1902 with Clasps Rhodesia, Relief of Mafeking, Orange Free State and Transvaal, King's South Africa Medal 1901 - 1902 with Clasps South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902, Africa General Service Medal 1902 - 56 with Clasp Somaliland 1902 - 04, 1914 - 15 Star, British War Medal 1914 - 20 and the Victory Medal 1914 - 19 with mention in Despatches.
He is commemorated on his headstone, a plaque in the St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast, Northern Ireland, South African Memorial, Delville Wood in France and a plaque honouring South Africans who were awarded the Victoria Cross in the Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town South Africa. He is also commemorated at the Imperial War Museum, in the United Kingdom.
I am in debt to David Holmes, proud eldest grandson of "Skipper" Edward Charles Kelly MC, who offered me the loan of the book "Undefeated: The Extraordinary Life and Death of Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sherwood Kelly VC, CMG, DSO by Philip Bujak.
The Chairman invited Professor Philip Everitt to give the Vote Of Thanks to the two speakers and present the customary remembrance gift to our guest speaker Charles Ross (SAN Retired).
The next meeting is to be held on 12th October 2017 and the speakers are;
The DDH will be presented by Mathew Marwick who will tell us about "The contribution of South African Schools to WW1".
The Main Talk is to be presented by Steve Watt and is entitled "WW2 - The U Boat War off Southern Africa".
The Chairman wished all a safe trip home and then closed the meeting.
SOUTH AFRICAN MILITARY HISTORY SOCIETY
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