Personnel Index - Detail

Name
KELLY
First Names
James Andrew
Rank
Sgt
Service
RAF
Service Number
1502127
Crew Position
Air Gunner
Age
22
Date of Death
28/02/1943
Cemetery

 

Photographed by Malcolm Brooke
 

Photograph courtesy of Joe May
A photograph kindly supplied by Joe May.

James Kelly (on the left) taken in Dublin in September 1942 in the company of Joe's father.

28 February / 1 March, 1943; ST NAZAIRE:

The weather all the way through February had been unpredictable, and the last day of the month was no exception. The morning started fine, but high gusting winds soon developed bringing with it rain squalls.
Weather-beaten crews gathered at briefing to learn that the evening’s target was St Nazaire; the second U-boat base to be selected for demolition. A large force consisting of 437 aircraft was dispatched. Fiskerton's contribution (8 aircraft) was a mixture of experienced crews and novices.

Bomber Command lost 5 aircraft; 2 Wellingtons, 1 Stirling and 2 Lancasters. Sadly, one of the Lancasters came from Fiskerton. The aircraft, flown by 26 year old Canadian pilot W/O Fred Duncan and crew, came down in the target area; sadly all onboard perished. Some rest in a joint grave at Loire-Atlantique in France, with crew members of an 83 Squadron Lancaster brought down on the same night.

Lancaster ED467 (EA-E)
Sgt F.C. Duncan RCAF Pilot (Killed)
Sgt R. Brookes F/E (Killed)
F/O R.G. McCracken NAV (Killed)
Sgt H. Kay W/AG (Killed)
Sgt D.W. Belsham A/G (Killed)
F/S A.M. Dickie RCAF A/B (Killed)
Sgt J.A. Kelly A/G (Killed)

Crew on their 9th operation

Image courtesy of Geoff Brookes

It would appear that the crew were killed on their next raid. Sgt G J Green continued his tour with a different crew serving until September 1943 when he was KIA.

Image courtesy of Geoff Brookes

A second picture from a different source labelled.......Sgt J A Kelly with his sister (and pet dog)
 

 Image courtesy of Joe May

Jimmy Kelly in flying kit
 

Image courtesy of Joe May
Jimmy Kelly at home in Dublin in September 1942

The pictures of Sgt Kelly have come from two different sources, both show the same man but he is wearing pilot's wings.
Sgt Kelly's grave shows him as an air gunner. Joe May has kindly supplied the following information

 

From conversations with my late father, it's clear Jimmy trained as a pilot on single engine aircraft. Jimmy told my father of the sheer sweat from head to toe following flying and having to bail out of an aircraft on at least one occasion and the fear this involved.

My father understood this happened in or around the time of the Dieppe raid of August 1942. My father seemed to think he was flying a Mustang when this happened, and from my limited knowledge this aircraft was associated with Army Co-Operation Command and photo–recon.

This story might make sense as Jimmy was certainly on leave in Dublin in September 1942 as at least one of photos we have is dated then – presumably he returned to the UK and trained as an air gunner before being posted to 49 Squadron. I consulted Norman Frank's book (The Greatest Air Battle) dealing with the Dieppe raid and could find no mention of lost aircraft with a JA Kelly involved – certainly at least four RAF Mustang squadrons were involved that August.

My father also mentioned he understood Jimmy Kelly had some involvement or had gone on a convoy to Murmansk at some stage, in what capacity I don’t know.

I assume the occurrence of a sergeant pilot changing branches and trade to an air gunner was rare.