WW1 Revel Edwin Kelly 2/2171
Revel Kelly, son of Edwin Harold and Margaret Kelly of Market Road, Epsom, was born on 17 January 1895. He attended Remuera Primary School and Auckland Grammar School in 1909 in Form IIIA and VA in 1911.
He obtained a free senior place at AGS and passed the Junior Civil Service Examination during his last year of school (1911) (1). After leaving school went into the warehouse of Sargood, Son and Ewen, a drapery and softgoods company. (2) Eight months before enlistment he had gone as a cadet on the farm of Mr Wylie at Waiuku, primarily it was said for the benefit of his health. He was a keen football and tennis player as a member of the Onehunga and Green Lane clubs. (3)
Revel enlisted on 23 August 1915 at age 20 in the 7th Reinforcements and embarked on 9 October 1915 from Wellington on the Aparima, Navua or Warrimoo, heading for Suez, arriving at the end of November 1915. He was posted to the New Zealand Field Artillery 1st Brigade Ammunition Column (BAC) at Gallipoli following a week’s stint in hospital in early 1916 and then to the 4th BAC from 23 February 1916.
Ammunition columns transported ammunition from shell dumps behind the lines to the gun positions. Its men used horses and mules to tow vehicles stacked with shells. A brigade ammunition column served each of the New Zealand artillery brigades at Gallipoli. In March 1916 these were reorganised in into a single Divisional Artillery Column (DAC). (4) This must have been a perilous, exhausting and stressful job.
He then transferred to the 4th Brigade Headquarters from 9 March 1916 and embarked for France on the Minnewaska on 5 April 1916, where the New Zealand Division had begun arriving in Marseilles on 11 April 1916. The men had no time for sightseeing, immediately boarding trains north to Flanders where the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was concentrated. After a three-day journey, the New Zealand soldiers set up camp around the town of Hazebrouck. The New Zealanders were soon introduced to the new tactics that had been developed by the BEF during 18 months of fighting. Officers and NCOs attended courses on grenades, trench warfare, and machine-gunnery, amongst other things, so they could circulate new ideas to the ranks as soon as possible. Retrained, reorganised and re-equipped, the New Zealand Division moved to a ‘quiet’ sector of the front near the town of Armentières to gain experience in the trenches. (5)
The Battle of the Somme started on 1 July 1916. At 6.20 a.m. on 15 September 1916, the boom of more than a thousand guns heralded the beginning of the new big push on the Somme. Amidst this were four brigades of the New Zealand divisional artillery. Deployed just three days before, these field gunners had the task of helping the infantry cross the battlefield and protecting them once they reached their objectives. Two brigades supported the New Zealand infantry, while the other two supported British infantry to their right. (6) On 15-22 September, the New Zealanders capture Switch and Flers trenches during Battle of Flers-Courcelette and on 25 & 27 September the NZers attacked Goose Alley and Gird trenches during Battle of Morval.
Although significant progress was made on 15 September, the hoped-for breakthrough remained elusive. In the following three weeks, the New Zealand Division made three more assaults – on 25 and 27 September, and 1 October – and grabbed part of the German fourth line (the Gird Trench system). These attacks, coupled with the incessant German artillery bombardment, began to take their toll on the men. (7)
On 25 Sept 1916, Revel Kelly was wounded and admitted to the 38th Casualty Clearing Station hospital and died on 26 Sept 1916 from the wounds received. His death was reported in the New Zealand Herald – GUNNER R. E. KELLY. Gunner R. E. Kelly, who has died of wounds, was the son of Mrs. M. A. Kelly, of Ranfurly Road, Epsom, and 21 years of age. He was an Auckland Grammar School old boy. Prior to enlistment he was in the employ of Messrs. Sargood, Son, and Ewen. He was a signaller in the A Battery, and an enthusiast in football and tennis. (8)
ROLL OF HONOUR In memory of Gunner Revel Kelly. 2/2171. Died of wounds received in the Battle of the Somme. September 26, 1916. Ever remembered by his pal A. R Wynyard. (9)
Revel Kelly is commemorated on the Memorial Gates at Remuera Primary School, Auckland Grammar School War Memorial Panel 1 and Greenlane Presbyterian Church Memorial Board.