Francis Vincent Kelly's signature On this day in 1916 Frank Kelly was killed at Courcelette in France, during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge. This was part of the Battle of the Somme, which lasted for more than four months in late 1916 and in which more than a million men died. Tanks made their first appearance in the war at Courcelette.

Frank Kelly had enlisted in the 28th Battalion in March 1915. A detailed history of this battalion’s First World War experiences compiled and edited by Major Donald George Scott Calder can be found online at the University of Saskatchewan. The battalion was assigned a tank on the day of Frank’s death, which Calder notes was “far from popular, becoming much less so when the Fritz gunners selected the Tank as a calibration point for all their guns in the area during the remainder of our stay.”

First aid at Courcelette

First aid being rendered at Courcelette (image from the Canadian War Museum)

Frank’s service record includes a hand-written will:frank-kellys-willWILL

In the event of my Death I give the whole of my property and effects to

Mrs Mary Elizabeth Neville. Deseronto Ontario Canada (signed)

Frank Kelly

Private No 424476

Date May 27th 1916

The circumstances of Frank’s death were recorded as “Killed in Action” in the trenches at Courcelette.

Casualty report for Frank Kelly
Frank is remembered on the Deseronto war memorial and at the Vimy Memorial. His grave was reported to be in Courcelette, but was not marked.

Deseronto memorial
In 1921 Kelly’s mother, Mary Elizabeth Neville, was living in Dundas Street, Deseronto.