Acting Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sherwood Kelly, VC CMG DSO

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Acting Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sherwood Kelly, VC CMG DSO

Category : media , WW1

 

SOUTH AFRICAN HEROES OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR: ACTING LIEUTENANT COLONEL JACK SHERWOOD KELLY VC CMG DSO. OFFICER COMMANDING 1ST BATTALION NORFOLK REGIMENT, THE ROYAL INNISKILLING FUSILIERS, 87TH INFANTRY BRIGADE, 29TH DIVISION. PART 2

This is a short tribute to one of South Africa’s most colourful characters of World War One and will focus on his military career.

During his leave Jack married Nellie Elizabeth Crawford on 22 April 1916. Early May 1916 saw jack recalled to the front once again in command of a battalion, this time the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as part of the 29th Division preparing for the upcoming Battle of the Somme. Leading his Battalion from the front during fighting in the Beaumont Hamel sector Jack was shot through the lung and saved by Jack Johnson until he could be evacuated back to London.

During a political rally by Jack in November 1923 a woman came up to Nellie and introduced herself as the mother of Stretcher Bearer Jack Johnson. A meeting was arranged between Jack Kelly and Jack Johnson. In an interview with the Derbyshire Times Jack Kelly said “good deal of handshakes and some tears”.
During July 1916 Jack and Nellie embarked on a recruiting tour to South Africa where Jack was received as hero. On his return to England in September 1916 Jack immediately reported for duty. Jack remained in England and on 29 November 1916 received his Distinguish Service Order (DSO) from King George V.

During November 1916 Jack was posted to the 3rd Battalion Kings Own Scottish Borderers as a Major. Very soon after arrival requested to be transferred to the 10th Norfolk Reserve Battalion
On 01 January 1917 Jack Sherwood Kelly was awarded the Distinguished Order of St Micheal and St George, Third Class or Companion, post nominal CMG. It is awarded for service to the Empire, probably for Jack’s recruiting drive in South Africa during 2016.

In February 1917 Jack was again posted to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as Officer Commanding. Early part of 1917 saw a new British offensive in Vimmy and Arras which was followed by offensives in Ypres and Passchendaele. A smaller offensive was planned for November 1917 in the Cambrai sector, using the new weapon “the Mark 1 Tank”.

On 20 November 1917, the opening day of the first Battle of Cambrai, 87th Brigade advanced on Marcoing, three miles south-west of Cambrai. 1st Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, crossed the Canal de St Quentin by the lock east of Marcoing copse. For his gallantry during the crossing of the canal and in leading the attack against the enemy defences on the far side, Acting Lieutenant Colonel J Sherwood-Kelly was awarded the VC. Meanwhile, two companies of 1st Battalion, The Border Regiment, crossed the canal by the railway bridge at Marcoing and one at the lock by the railway station at the north-eastern outskirts of the town. Sergeant C E Spackman was awarded the VC for attacking a machine-gun which threatened this advance.

For this action Jack was awarded the Victoria Cross. The citation reads as follows:

“For most conspicuous bravery and fearless leading when a party of men of another unit detailed to cover the passage of the canal by his battalion were held up on the near side of the canal by heavy rifle fire directed on the bridge. Lieutenant Colonel Sherwood-Kelly at once ordered covering fire, personally led the leading company of his battalion across the canal and, after crossing, reconnoitred under heavy rifle fire and machine gun fire the high ground held by the enemy.

The left flank of his battalion advancing to the assault of this objective was held up by a thick belt of wire, where upon he crossed to that flank, and with a Lewis gun team, forced his way under heavy fire through obstacles, got the gun into position on the far side, and covered the advance of his battalion through the wire, thereby enabling them to capture the position.

Later, he personally led a charge against some pits from which a heavy fire was being directed on his men, captured the pits, together with five machine guns and forty six prisoners, and killed a large number of the enemy.

The great gallantry displayed by this officer throughout the day inspired the greatest confidence in his men, and it was mainly due to his example and devotion to duty that his battalion was enabled to capture and hold their objective”.

The Germans launched a counter attack which was successfully repelled by the 29th Division during which time Acting Captain A. M. Lascelles, another South African hero, of the 14th Durham Light Infantry was awarded a Victoria Cross. Jack returned to a hospital in London having been gassed again.

On 11 January 1918 the London Gazette reported that Jack had been awarded the Victoria Cross which he received from King George on 23 January 1918 at Buckingham Palace.

During February 1918 Jack once again returned to South Africa on a recruiting drive. Following a speech in east London in the Eastern Cape Jack was reported and recalled back to England where he was reprimanded and remained with the Norfolk Yeomanry.

In August 1918 Jack was put in charge of the troop ship HMS CITY OF KARACHI carrying South African troops. During the trip the Officers revolted sighting his bullying tactics and derogatory statements about South African troops. Jack apologised and narrowly escaped being court martial.

Jack served the rest of the war as Officer Commanding the Norfolk Yeomanry.

Extract published with the kind permission of The VC and the GC, The Complete History, published by Methuen and The VC and GC Association in 2013.

Story for the South African Legion of Military Veterans by Lgr Charles Ross. via South African Legion


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Lieutenant D.C. “Tommy” Thomas

 

Today we profile another one of those South African heroes who served with the commandos on D-Day – Lieutenant D.C. “Tommy” Thomas, from Maclear in the Transkei.

His most painful recollection of D-Day was the stormy passage he and his contingent had to undergo in crossing the Channel in their landing craft.The seas were running high, and hardly a man escaped sea sickness. They landed in the second wave at first light, their boat receiving a direct hit as they approached the shore, half-a-dozen men being killed, and Thomas found himself up to his neck in water after having jumped form the landing craft as it struck the beach.

The Commandos, having “dumped” their steel helmets, promptly donned their green berets as they went ashore, it being “more comfortable”. They had a specific job to do which was to connect up as soon as possible with the paratroops who had dropped further inland, and encountered fire, but “did not wait to deal with the resistance at the coast, pushing inland instead with all speed”.

It was “tough going through the minefields but they got there”.

“And were the paratroops glad to see us!” remarked Thomas, who further remarked that for the next few days none of them knew much of what was happening, and could not be sure whether the invasion was a success or not.

All they knew was “that in their own sector on the left flank of the beach-head they were kept hard at it”, and the toughening they had had in advance was to prove more than useful.

According to plan, they kept on the move all the time -”frigging about” as it was called in Commando terminology, snatching some much-needed sleep in slit-trenches during the day, while at night they were patrols or raids to be carried out. It was while returning from one of these ”nocturnal excursions” that Lieutenant Thomas shared with his sergeant and another man “the benefit of a German hand-grenade”, and was to later return to England with several “little shrapnel souvenirs still in his leg”, but otherwise was “none the worse for wear”.
Commenting on how the Normandy landings compared to his time in North Africa Thomas was to say that “it was worse”, elaborating that “for one thing, in the Desert, you could see whom you were fighting, but in Normandy most of the time you couldn’t.”

Thomas was also to add that he was wondering how he would “be able to settle down on the family farm in the Maclear district of the Transkei after all this excitement”.

The unfortunate truth is that it was highly likely that his participation in D Day ultimately killed him years later. After the war but he became an alcoholic suffering with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eventually shot himself when he was diagnosed with cancer. A real tragedy, close family and fiends described him as an AMAZING man, brave, humble and very caring – he was apparently never the same after the war.

Photo copyright , thanks and courtesy of Mrs A.Mason, from her family photographic records.
Reference – Two South African “Royal Marine” Commandos and the D-Day Landings, June 1944 By Ross Dix-Peek.

Story for the SA Legion by Peter Dickens with contribution by Tom Mason on behalf of his mother. via South African Legion.


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South African Legion Club Durban and District Branch

 

South African Legion Club Durban and District Branch

Just a quick update… We are now officially up and running here in Durbs after our 1st AGM Held at Stamford Hill Bowling Club. Our membership sits now at around 38 full members and 4 associate members so not too bad…

We are still having problems regarding the DLI premises so not much good news from that side.

Rick and his exec have really embraced the idea of this club and have helped us in every way to get off the ground so to speak. Our members are starting to buy Legion clothing & regalia so hopefully we will all look the part shortly.

Attached please find a group photo of us from last week thanks to Lgr Peter Shattock, our official war Correspondent “during peace time”

Story for the South African Legion of Military Veterans by Lgr Charles Ross based on a report by Lgr Steve Leahy.


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South African Air Force Mustang

Category : Korea , media

 

A South African Air Force Mustang undergoing maintenance – part of the British Commonwealth’s contribution to the United Nations Korean War effort.

South Arican Air Force No 2 Sqn flew 10,373 Mustang sorties in Korea, followed by 2032 with the F-86. The SAAF pilots won three Legions of Merit, 2 Silver Stars, 50 DFC’s, 40 Bronze Stars, and 176 Air Medals.

Image and caption courtesy British & Commonwealth Forces Past and Present via South African Legion


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Corporal William Cloete

 

Honouring real South African heroes and here stands an exceptional one.

Corporal William Cloete was a Cape Coloured Corps member and the leader of a stretcher bearer team attached to the Cape Town Highlanders regiment in Italy during the Second World War.

During a fierce fight with German troops when his company was pinned down on three sides by mortar and machine gun fire, under persistent enemy firing, Cloete and his team carried ten of their own wounded soldiers to safety; for this he received the Military Medal for bravery.

Nearly a year later, at the age of 24, Cloete was struck by a bullet from a German sniper and permanently blinded in both eyes. After the war Cloete attended the School for the Blind in Bellville. He became an expert basket-maker for the rest of his working life and passed away in 1993.

Your fellow veterans salute you.

Posted for the SA Legion by Peter Dickens


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Wandsworth ACF

 

Some excellent work been done by the SA Legion in the United Kingdom as we continue our aims of youth education and participation with Her Majesty’s Armed Forces Cadet program. ACF Wandsworth – Cadet Saffa Da Conceaio and Detachment Commander Lt Cassandra Sealy, both Legionnaires, proudly carried the colours at this year’s Delville Wood Parade in France.

This article on the SA Legion has just appeared in the hard copy the latest UK Army Cadet Volunteer magazine.


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Longest-reigning Monarch

 

Today Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-reigning monarch in British history.

As Patron of Royal Commonwealth Ex Services Leauge (RCEL), she is a defacto Patron of the South African Legion as a founding member of the RCEL. It is for this reason that The South African Legion has the privilage her royal crown on top of our Springbok emblem.

This is history in the making, she becomes the longest reigning monarch in 1,000 years of British history this afternoon.

Her Majesty out-reigns her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria is not precise, due to the uncertainty of the timing of the death of her father, George VI, who died in his sleep. But Buckingham Palace has estimated, to be absolutely safe, she will pass Victoria’s 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes at around 5.30pm. That calculation assumes George VI’s death was around 1am, and factors in extra leap days in the reigns of “Elizabeth the Steadfast”, as she has been described, and the Queen Empress.

In her 21st birthday broadcast to the Commonwealth, Princess Elizabeth memorably promised that “my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service”. She could not have expected as she said those words that the burden of monarchy would fall on her shoulders so soon afterwards, but more than 63 years after she ascended the throne, the Queen has never wavered from that pledge.

Long may she reign. Congratulations to Her Majesty, and thank you for her support as our Patron.

Story for the South African Legion by Peter Dickens


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Operation Sceptic

7 June 1980 Border War, Operation Sceptic.

Capt IC Du Plessis landed his badly damaged Mirage F1AZ at Ruacana. The aircraft was damaged by shrapnel from an SAM Missile fired at the aircraft during the bombing of a target. He barely made it to Ruacana with the assistance of Budgie Burgers who was flying a Telstar Imp and guided him in to Ruacana. For saving the irreplaceable aircraft Capt Du Plessis was awarded an Honoris Crux medal for bravery in the highest order.

Image and caption courtesy of Johan Conradie


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Alouette Gunship

Tags :

Category : Bush War , media

 

Nice action shot taken during the Bush War. Here a Alouette III Helicopter Gunship watches over another Alouette gunship as it becomes airborne. Teamwork at its best.

Photo and caption courtesy and thanks to Graham Du Toit via South African Legion


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Ops Medic Mural

Category : media

 

South West Africa Border War, many veterans will recognise this. Famous Medic Mural painted on the wall at the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital at AFB Ondangwa. The Medic fraternity that served in this facility were Top Class and saved many lives (Both Friend and Foe) for the duration of the Bush War. Nothing short of RESPECT is given here.

Image and caption courtesy and thanks to Graham Du Toit and his tireless work keeping this memory alive.


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