Wallet 1 of 1 – Letters of John Kelly and Michael Kelly to their family and a photograph of John Kelly, 1899-1900

Accession Number AWM2020.22.125
Collection number PR82/055
Collection type Digitised Collection
Record type Wallet
Item count 16
Object type Letter, Photograph
Physical description 41 Image/s captured
Maker Kelly, John (Jack)
Kelly, Michael (Mick) Augustine
Place made South Africa
Date made 1899-1900
Conflict South Africa, 1899-1902 (Boer War)
Copying Provisions Attached digital images and content are protected by copyright. They are reproduced here for research and study only. If you wish to use or quote from these images, please contact the Memorial’s Research Centre via info@awm.gov.au or 02 6243 4315.
Source credit to This item has been digitised with funding provided by Commonwealth Government.

Collection relating to the Boer War service of 36 Private John 'Jack' Kelly, 1st NSW Mounted Rifles and Private Michael Kelly, 6th Queensland Imperial Bushmen, 1899-1900.

Wallet 1 of 1 – This collection consists of a single folder, containing one photograph of John Kelly, 14 letters, and one envelope. Twelve (12) letters are from 36 Private John Kelly to his sister Julia Ellen 'Nellie' Kelly. One of these letters is a photocopy.

John Kelly's early letters describe his determination to serve in South Africa, the anticipation of his father’s disapproval, and the journey to South Africa. He then writes of his 'first big battle' beginning on Sunday 11 February 1900, a part of the Battle of Paardeberg. He describes coming under heavy artillery fire and notes he was the only one was wounded.

After the capture of Bloemfontein in March 1900, John Kelly expresses his hope that the war will soon be over, refers to the loss of life on both sides and notes the British strategic advantage of generally being on the offensive.

His letters include many details about the progression of the war. He mentions that Australians - including the NSW Mounted Rifles and the West Australians – are the first troops to enter Pretoria. He also describes chasing Christiaan de Wet and later describes a skirmish in October 1900. John Kelly's later letters express distaste for writing about the war.

The collection also includes two letters from Jack Kelly's brother Michael 'Mick' Kelly, who served with the Queensland Imperial Bushmen. Both letters are to his sister Julia Ellen 'Nellie' Kelly, one addressed to 'JE Kelly' and the other addressed to 'Nell'. These letters are arranged at the end of the collection.

Note that two letters in this collection were added in September 2012. The first is dated 31 May 1900. The second letter is a black and white photocopy of a handwritten letter and is dated 7 June 1900.