Private Richard (Dick) Kelly



The background of this North Irish Horseman is not certain, but he may have been the Richard Thomas Kelly born on 27 July 1894 at Ballywillwill, Castlewellan, County Down, the last of thirteen children of farm labourer Melvin Kelly and his wife Margaret Jane (nee Perry). His mother died just after his second birthday.

Kelly enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 19 and 28 March 1912 (No.685 – later Corps of Hussars No.71071). He embarked for France with A Squadron on 17 AUgust 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

Kelly remained with the regiment throughout the war. On 19 February 1919 he was transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

On 1 July 1966 the Mourne Observer published an article to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. It included an interview with Kelly about his experiences:

Dick Kelly, of Annsborough, ... took part in the rearguard action during the retreat from Mons.

"Before they started trench warfare", says Dick, "when an attack was made the cavalry charged and took a position and held it till the infantry came up and consolidated. But horses were useless against barbed wire defences and all we could do was to wait until the infantry made a breakthrough clearance for us.

"We spent a good part of our time hunting Germans, and we were given other duties, dashing about all over the place, and often you and your horse were completely exhausted and you didn't care what happened".

Dick, who farms at Annsborough, is married, and has a family of four sons – Ervine, Merwyn, Richard, and John – and two daughters, Mrs. Joy McMullan and Mrs. Sylvia McDowell.


Image above sourced from the Mourne Observer, 1 July 1966.