Sergeant John Robert Cowan Kelly

Service number 453
Ranks Held Private, Sergeant
Birth Date 1893-06-17
Birth Place Australia: New South Wales, Glen Innes
Death Date 1985-08-06
Death Place Australia: New South Wales, Wentworth Falls
Final Rank Sergeant
Unit Elope.Force (Russia)
Conflict/Operation First World War, 1914-1918

John Robert Cowan Kelly was born in 1893 at Glen Innes, New South Wales. He became active with the local rifle club and after the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) at Liverpool in July 1915. The 22-year-old clerk was allotted the service number 453 and the rank of private and was assigned to the 30th Infantry Battalion. After several months of training Kelly embarked from Sydney on 9 November 1915 aboard HMAT Beltana, bound for Egypt.

Kelly arrived in Egypt the following month and remained there until June the following 1916, bring promoted to the rank of corporal during that time. The 30th battalion was then sent to the Western Front in France and saw its first major action at the disastrous battle of Fromelles which began on 19 July 1916. Kelly was wounded in during this battle with a gunshot wound to his back. He was taken to a general hospital in Calais before being sent to England for further hospitalisation and convalescence. In October 1916, he was released for service and was transferred between several training units in England before being promoted in November 1917 to the rank of sergeant.

In June 1918, Kelly was detached for special duty with the Imperial Army and transferred to “Elope” Force. He embarked from Newcastle aboard the City of Marseilles on 16 June 1918 and arrived in Murmansk on 23 June. He was appointed sergeant of the School of Archangel Musketry on 11 November 1918. After spending a year with Elope Force in North Russia, Kelly was evacuated from Archangel to England on 17 June 1919. John Robert Cowan Kelly returned to Australia aboard Ajana on 10 October 1919 and was discharged on 9 December 1919.



Date of birth 17 June 1893
Date of enlistment 18 July 1915
Date of embarkation 09 November 1915
Date returned to Australia 19 August 1919
Date of death 06 August 1985