Frank Kelly (1882-1917)

This page is part of a project by David Verguson to research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the Lindley area.


Frank Kelly was the son of John and Janet Kelly, of Huddersfield.

The Kellys were an Irish family who came to Huddersfield in the late 1880s. John Kelly was born in Roscommon sometime between 1839 and 1844.[1] His wife Margaret was two years younger.

In 1891 the family were living in a small house on Manchester Street in the centre of Huddersfield and had eight children. The oldest was James, who at 22 years of age worked, like his father, as a teamer, that is, with horses. Thomas, 20, was a house painter and Ellen, 18, was a rug weaver. The youngest child was James Edward who was only a year old. Frank was nine years old and still at school. Frank, and probably his brothers and sisters, was educated at St. Patrick's Catholic School.

At the end of 1895 Margaret Kelly died leaving John a widow with two children under eighteen. In 1901 the family were still in Manchester Street. Only five of the children still lived at home and only James Edward was still at school; Frank now worked as warehouseman at a cotton mill.

In late 1908 Frank married Janet Smithies, the daughter of William Smithies of Lindley, a plasterer, who had died the year before. The couple must have moved into number 11 Thomas Street, the house that the Smithies family had occupied at the time of the 1901 census, because they were there in 1911. In the census, Frank gave the address as "Back Thomas Street", but these are back-to-back houses and both sides are numbered in the same series. It had three rooms, which would have been small but adequate for the Frank and Janet, but must have seemed very cramped to the Smithies family in 1901.

Frank was by then working as a labourer in a local brewery, possibly that one at the junction of Weatherhill Road and West Street, just minutes for Thomas Street, or the East Street brewery in Birchencliffe, John Kelly, Frank's father, was living with his youngest son and his wife and child, in a two-room house on Northgate, Almondbury.

Frank enlisted in the army on 16 January 1917, by which time he was working at the Sykes Card factory on Acre Street. This date, along with service in the Northumberland Fusiliers, suggests he was conscripted. The 8th battalion was a battalion of Kitchener's New Army. Frank was probably sent as a replacement.

At the age of 34, Frank died just after the finish of the Battle of Messines, and this suggests he was killed not in some major offensive but rather in a minor incident such as random shelling. The fact that he has no known grave may indicate that the spot was later overrun and the precise location lost or disturbed by battle.

Frank is remembered on the Menin Gate in Ypres, which contains the names of over 54,000 Commonwealth servicemen who died in the area and who have no known grave. Each night at 8pm the Last Post is sounded by a bugler from the local fire service. Frank is also remembered at St. Stephen's church. The Huddersfield Examiner did not carry a report of Frank's death until Monday 23 July, which suggests that his family never received the news until mid-July.

Janet would have received a small pension of about 13/- a week. There is no evidence that she ever re-married.

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:

KELLY, FRANK. Private. No 36377. 8th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. Born Ireland 12.1.1882. Son of John and Janet Kelly. Educated St. Patrick's Roman Catholic School. Employed as a wire operator by Messrs Joseph Sykes Brothers Limited, Acre Mills, Lindley. Was a member of Lindley Working Men's Club. Attended St. Patrick's Church. Husband of Janet Kelly, 11 Back Thomas Street, Lindley. Enlisted 16.1.1917. Killed in action, 19.6.1917, aged 34 years. Has no known grave. Commemorated MENIN GATE MEMORIAL TO THE MISSING.
ROH:- St. Stephen's Church, Lindley.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission



Notes and References

  1. The ages given in the censuses vary