Topic: William John Kelly

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A soldier of the Great War who died of wounds received in fighting around Bapaume.

Corporal William John Kelly – 15557

William was born at Doyleston on 4th May 1885, son of William and Ellen Kelly. He was educated at the local school. Prior to enlisting he was engaged in farm work in the Ellesmere district, his last employer being Mr R. L. Williams. He had had an operation to deal with a hernia in early 1916 and was pronounced fit as the wound had healed. His height was not recorded but he had a fair complexion, with blue eyes and brown hair.

William enlisted on 4th April 1916 and was assigned to 15th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company. He trained at Trentham and embarked from Wellington on 26 July 1916 for Europe. He arrived in Devonport and Sling Camp on 3rd October and then on to France on 20th October. He was attached to the strength in Etaples on 21st October. He joined the 1st Battalion Canterbury Regiment and was posted to 13th Company in the field on 8th November. The following year he was attached to the Area Officer for 10 days from 2nd April. Later in the year on 30th September he was attached to the Reinforcement Camp for 3 weeks. He was granted leave in England before Christmas leaving on 16 December and returning after New Year on 4th Jan 1918. A few weeks afterward he was sent on leave to Paris on 25 January, returning on 6th February. Four months later on 12th June he was appointed Lance-Corporal and then a month later Corporal, in both cases to replace another soldier who had been reduced in rank or promoted. He was wounded in action on 25th August, suffering a gunshot wound to his thigh. At this time the Regiment was in action in the fighting to over-run Bapaume. Taken up by the ambulance he was admitted to No 3 Australian General Hospital at Abbeville on 26 August. Sadly he died of his wounds the following day, aged 33. He was buried in the Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme. In New Zealand William is remembered on the Leeston Plaque of the Ellesmere County and the Doyleston War Memorial.


CWGC Cemetery Locale History:Abbeville is a French town in the Picardy region where the Somme river becomes a canal. For much of the First World War, Abbeville was headquarters of the Commonwealth lines of communication and No.3 BRCS, No.5 and No.2 Stationary Hospitals were stationed there variously from October 1914 to January 1920. The Communal Cemetery was used for burials from November 1914 to September 1916, the earliest being made among the French military graves. The extension was begun in September 1916.

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William John Kelly

First Names:William John
Last Name:Kelly
Date of Birth:4th May 1885
Place of Birth:Doyleston
Date of Death:27 August 1918
Place of Death:Abbeville, France
Memorial or Cemetery:Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension
Age at death:33
User Name:Selwyn Library
Occupation before enlisting:Farmer
Marital Status:Single
Nominal Roll:37/9
Regiment or Service:Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company, 15th Reinforcements
Enlistment details:4 April 1916
Parents or Next of Kin:(Sister) Miss M. Kelly, Doyleston, Canterbury, New Zealand
Service Number:15557
Rank last held:Corporal
Embarkation:26 July 1916
Place of Embarkation:Wellington
Transport:Waitemata or Ulimaroa
Theatres of War:Western Front
Cause of Death:Died of wounds