Shoeing Smith Corporal David Kelly



David Kelly was born on 12 December 1874 at Newtowncrommelin, County Antrim, the first of seven children of farmer Robert Kelly and his wife Mary Jane (nee Swan). Before the turn of the century he moved to Scotland, where he worked as a blacksmith in Cowdenbeath, Fifeshire. In 1901 he fell ill with tuberculosis, spending three months in the Lauriston Royal Infirmary at Edinburgh. After his recovery (although the illness recurred every few years) he returned to blacksmithing, returning home to  marry Elizabeth Jane Kennedy at the Newtowncrommelin Presbyterian Church on 18 July 1907.

The couple had two children in Scotland before returning to Ireland around 1910, where they had another five children over the following eight years. By the time of the 1911 Census the family was living at Craigywarren, County Antrim, David working as a farmer and blacksmith.

Kelly enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 8 February 1916 (No.2107 – later Corps of Hussars No.71697), at the age of 41. He was promoted to shoeing smith the following day and shoeing smith corporal on 3 April.

According to family recollections, Kelly was injured by a kick to the back while unloading a shipment of horses from America, the injury preventing him from being sent on overseas service. This may have been in March 1916, when 900 mules arrived at Belfast from the USA and were unloaded and taken across town by the men from the North Irish Horse depot at Antrim.

On 19 January 1918 he was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. This became the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918, and Kelly was issued No.133070 with the rank of corporal mechanic. He was posted to No.19 Training Depot Station.

Following a recurrence of the tuberculosis, Kelly was admitted to the Military Hospital at Fermoy, reported to be "pale weak thin & delicate looking." By 18 June, however, "his general health has improved while here & he is now fit for operation." After treatment at Cork he was transferred to the Military Hospital at the Curragh.

On 19 December 1918 Kelly was discharged, being no longer physically fit for military service (paragraph 392 xvi King's Regulations), and was awarded a pension. He returned to Scotland, where he lived in Queen Street, Glasgow. The illness persisted, however, and he died in the Bellahouston Military Hospital in Glasgow in 1926.


My thanks to Harry Hume for making available this image and some of the information above.