Private Henry Franklin Kelly



Henry Franklin Kelly was born on 13 February 1896 at 9 St Mary's Street, Belfast, the first of two children of coach-builder (later foundry carpenter) William Dinsmore Kelly and his wife Martha (née Wilson). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living in Rosebank Street, Belfast, with his parents and brother, and working as a message boy.

Kelly enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 19 and 22 May 1915 (No.1556). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France sometime between 1916 and the first half of 1917, possibly with E Squadron on 11 January 1916.

In May and June 1916 E, D and A Squadrons of the North Irish Horse combined to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, and C and F Squadrons joined the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, each serving as corps cavalry units.

In August-September 1917 the 2nd NIH Regiment was disbanded and its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Kelly, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Kelly was issued regimental number 41361 and posted to B Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Kelly was one of the many posted as missing following the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive. It was later learned that he had been captured, unwounded, on 27 March at Erches, near Roye, when much of the battalion had been overwhelmed by the fast-moving German advance. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war, held at camps in Bohain and Giessen.

Following his repatriation Kelly returned to his home at 4 Rosebank Street and worked as a joiner. On 10 February 1920 he married Minnie Mateer in St Anne's Church of Ireland Parish Church, Belfast. Eight months later the couple emigrated to Australia, but soon after moved to New Zealand. Henry died there on 8 August 1977 and was buried in the Soldiers' Plot of the Makara Cemetery, Wellington.



First image sourced from Public Member Trees - contributor Sonia Williamson. Second image sourced from the Billion Graves website.