No.3164 – Private Francis Michael Kelly – 28th Battalion AIF
Francis "Frank” Michael Kelly enlisted 8 September 1915 at 38 years of age. Frank was the 3rd son of Michael and Ann Kelly and while he was born in Victoria, he resided in Fremantle with his wife in later years.
Frank was married to Lillian Maud Kelly (nee McMillan). She is recorded as residing at 590 High Street, Fremantle and later 97 King Street, Fremantle.
Enlisting in Narrogin, Frank’s records indicate that he was 5ft 8in and a hairdresser by trade.
Frank was part of the 7th reinforcement of the 28th Battalion and Embarked on HMAT Medic on 18 January 1916 from Fremantle. He would serve in the Middle East and then France.
Frank died in France at 39 years of age, leaving Lillian a widow. His war records show that he was recorded as missing in action for a brief time before he was confirmed killed in action sometime between 3-6 November 1916. Frank was killed in Flers and his body was never recovered.
Frank received the British War Medal and Victory Medal, both of which were forwarded to his widow, Lillian.
A commemorative scroll was also sent.
A letter from the Information Bureau of the Australian Red Cross Society dated 4 February 1918 was also sent to the family containing an eye witness account of Frank’s death: "I saw him killed at Flers, by machine gun bullet which hit him through the head. I do not know place of burial and cannot refer to anyone for further details. I knew him well. He was our barber and was the only man of that name in the company.”
Frank is commemorated at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Somme, France. Incidentally, the 28th Battalion (Western Australia) had the greatest number of names (493) on the Villers-Bretoneux Memorial.
On 30 July 1997, Frank’s grandson, Frank Howard, visited the Villers-Bretoneux Memorial and saw the name F.M. Kelly on the memorial wall as well as the unmarked grave that pays tribute to Australia's undiscovered or unidentified fallen soldiers.
Many thanks to Frank Howard, grandson of Francis Michael Kelly, for sharing this story and ephemera.