Kelly, James Armstrong (No. 16393)

Kelly, James Armstrong (James)


No. 16393, 7th Service Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Died of disease on Monday 8 November 1915 (aged 45)


Brookwood Cemetery, Woking, Surrey, England (Grave Q. 176614)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Newtownards and District War Memorial

Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark)


James Armstrong Kelly was born on 10 July 1870 in Downhill and he was the youngest son of William and Mary Ann Kelly (nee Kelly) who lived at Downhill, Castlerock, Co Londonderry.

William Kelly worked as a gamekeeper.

James Armstrong Kelly was a career soldier and served for 22 years with the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.   He saw foreign service in Canada, Crete, Malta, China, South Africa and India.

His discharge papers from the South African War contain the record of his gallant conduct and note that in that campaign he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.  In addition, he held the Queen’s Medal with six clasps and the King’s Medal with two clasps.

James Armstrong Kelly and Clarissa (Clara) Eleanor Blevings were married on 9 February 1907 in St Anne’s Church of Ireland Cathedral Belfast.  James Armstrong Kelly (aged 33) was a Sergeant in the Inniskilling Fusiliers stationed in Victoria Barracks, Belfast.  Clara Eleanor Blevings (aged 22) from 77 Northbrook Terrace, Belfast was a daughter of Robert Blevings, a spinning master.

James Armstrong Kelly and Clarissa (Clara) Eleanor Kelly (nee Blevings) had one daughter and they lived at 36 Court Street, Newtownards.

One of James’s sisters and her family also lived in Court Street while another sister, Mrs Murphy, lived in Cobalt, Ontario in Canada.

Sergeant Kelly retired from active service on 4 January 1913 but he re-joined the Army at the outbreak of the Great War and was attached to the 7th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as a signalling instructor.

Signalling Sergeant James Armstrong Kelly was 45 when he died suddenly on 8 November 1915 in Inkerman Military Hospital, St John’s, Woking in Surrey and his sudden death resulted in an inquest.  He had complained of pains on the evening of Saturday 6 November 1915 and was admitted to hospital the next day.  He died around 7.00 am on Monday 8 November 1915.  A post-mortem examination showed a ‘diseased and enlarged heart’ with other organs affected.  The cause of death was stated to be ‘dilation producing syncope’.

Signalling Sergeant James Armstrong Kelly was buried with full military honours in Brookwood Cemetery, Woking, Surrey on Thursday 11 November 1915 and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark).

His widow, Clarissa (Clara) Eleanor Kelly (nee Blevings), subsequently re-married and lived in Cobalt, Ontario, Canada.  Her married surname was Tinsley.