Tribute to Private Edward (Eddy) Kelly
The Third Battle of Ypres
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Although Eddy Kelly “died of wounds” on 22nd August 1917, that description means it was most likely he was wounded some days, or even possibly weeks, earlier.

This tends to be confirmed by the battalion movement sheet, which has them located near Vlamertinghe. For the majority of the Great War Vlamertinghe was a field hospital well outside the range of German shell fire.

As the sheet shows, Eddy and his Battalion were uninvolved in fighting from at least August 18th, so it’s reasonble to assume that his injuries were incurred earlier.

The last action that the 16th Irish Division had been involved in prior to 18th of August was the Battle of Langemark, one of the series of battles that took place in
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the summer and autumn of 1917, which collectively is known as the Third Battle of Ypres.The last action that the 16th Irish Division had been involved in prior to 18th of August was the Battle of Langemark, one of the series of battles that took place in Flanders in the summer and autumn of 1917, which collectively is known as the Third Battle of Ypres. The majority of the woundings (almost 3,000) to members of the 16th Irish Division occured on 16th August 1917 as a direct consequence of this battle (see table above). It’s only a guess, but it seems very likely that this was the battle in which Eddy received his fatal wounds.

The British attacks in the summer and autumn of 1917 took place in the wettest weather in 75 years. The vital drainage channels of this low-lying area of Belgium were pounded out of existence by the British and German artillery. The water table of the Ypres salient turned into the sea of mud and blood that became known as Passchendaele, after the village that crowns the horseshoe of ridges that lie to the east of Ypres. The village is only six miles from the offensive’s start line near Ypres but it took the British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African troops four and a half months to reach that goal. This journey, short in distance but agonisingly long in time, cost 300,000 British and Empire casualties.

The Battle of Langemarck began on the morning of 16th August 1917 at 4.45, with a tremendous artillery barrage. Not only were the many German strongpoints bombarded, but a creeping barrage was laid to keep the defenders’ heads down as the British infantry advanced. A enemy counter-barrage fell behind the British front line and was not a problem for the 16th Irish, but a furious storm of machine-gun fire and snipers’ bullets met them shortly after they had begun their attack.

Click this link to read the orders of attack for the day:


And then this link for the Commanding Officer’s report of the failure of the attack:


After a day of heavy fighting in dreadful conditions, most of the 7th/8th Royal Irish Fusiliers had been wiped out. As the orders and post-mortem confirm, the Irish were being used as auxiliaries (moppers up) to the British main force and were – in effect – cannon fodder.

It’s sobering to think that – having survived the Somme and numerous other great battles of WWi – this attack may have been where Eddy finally fell.
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Two Irish Divisions fought in the Battle of Langemark – the 36t
Sadly, we’ll probably never know the exact day on which Eddy Kelly fought his last fight. I was hoping to find some record of his last days in the field hosital, but I’ve been told in confidence that “some years ago the MOD burnt two aircraft hangers full of WW1 medical files” – an appaling act of vandalism that undoubtedly lost many tens of thousands of medical records, including Eddy’s.

Until the Glasgow 1911 census records are released in 2011 it won’t be possible to get details of where and when Eddy enlisted, but we can probably assume he fought his way through most of the horrors of the First World War.

In November 2006 the family paid a formal tribute to Eddy. My Auntie Margaret and Uncle Paudraig (below) visited Eddy’s grave in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium, grave ref: XVIII.D. 1a.
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If anyone can add any more detail to Eddy’s history, or even be
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Cartwights of Bilston
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Walshes of Ballinabarney
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Genuine photograph of a temporary bandaging station during the
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He shall not hear the bittern cry In the wild sky, where he is