Campbell Joseph O'Connor Kelly, OBE, MC, MM

In IRA Intelligence Book and in a 1937 photo

"Capt" Kelly was the Intelligence Officer for the 6th Division

It was difficult to determine where he actually came from

1887 Apr 27 His parents marry in Bray, Wexford, Ireland. His father was Charles Luke O'Connor Kelly and his mother Margaret Fair.

1890 Aug 8. His parents were living in Australia when their first child, Campbell's brother Clifford, was born in Melbourne. They must have returned to Ireland soon after this birth, though I cannot find the shipping record in either direction.

1893 Dec 1. Born in Churchfield, Ballyhaunis, County Mayo. His father was Charles Luke Kelly (Gentleman) and his mother was Margaret (nee Fair).

The baptismal record also records the birth as 1 December 1893. The baptism took place in Knock Roman Catholic Parish Church, County Mayo. His father is named as Charles Kelly and mother Margaret (nee Faire). I don't know where O'Connor fits in, but both records are consistent with the marriage record, where his stated age is 23 (he was 2 weeks short of his 24th birthday). According to his marriage cert, his father was Charles Luke O'Connor Kelly. (there is a death of a Charles O'Connor Kelly b1863, d1935 in Dublin which should be him). Interestingly his father enlisted twice in WW1 but was discharged each time as medically unfit after a short period. His father's enlistment papers give his younger children. Kelly senior was certainly keen to enlist, and gave his age as 45, when he was in fact 52.

The Army List give his birth as 21 Sept 1892 and gives him as just "Campbell Kelly" during his service. He appears to have exaggerated his age by a year to join the army. It is odd that he joined as a Private, and lied about his age. He must have been keen to get away from home - the family certainly had enough money to educate him and set him up as an officer, instead he enlisted as a Private at the age of 16 (a few weeks short of his 17th birthday)

1894 Campbell Charles Kelly birth registered at Claremorris ( Ballyhaunis is sub-district) Jan/Mar 1894 Vol 4, page 130

1901 census shows his living at 11 Churchfield, Knock South, Mayo

Three of his brothers died young -Clifford the eldest in 1909 (aged 18) and Edward and John in 1915 who were boarders in Celbridge.They are thought to have caught " Typhus from Belgian refugees" They were aged 12 and 7. The patriarch Edmond, who was the local coroner in East Mayo died also in 1915. Their uncle Edmund W Kelly also joined army June 1915 and was a Lt in RIR..

1910 Nov 21. Attested. 34017 attested 28 October 1910 and 34096 attested on 24 December 1910 - so it looks as if he attested around November 1910 and seems to have over-declared his age by a couple of years. One can also work back from his commission and arrive at an enlistment date of 21 Nov 1910

1914 Landed in some abroad that was not a War Zone, as he was not eligible for the Star

1916 Oct Served in France France and Flanders from October 1916 to June 1918. Served with 185th Siege Battery, RGA and was once wounded.

He appears to have been in 97th Company of the RGA who were at Simon's Town, Cape of Good Hope District. They were involved in the South African rebellion 26th October to 8th December 1914. They returned to Cape Colony between 9th December and 20th December 1914. Then took part in the campaign in German South West Africa until 26th July 1915. They returned to Cape Colony on July 27th 1915 until 18th July 1916. On 18th July 1916 the 97th Company RGA was re-designated the 185th Siege Battery RGA and returned to the UK.

185th(Siege)Bty, R.G.A. was a Regular Army unit formed at Aldershot, Hampshire on the 18th July 1916 from 97th Company, R.G.A., which was also a Regular Army unit. 185 Siege Battery did first go to France in Oct 1916.

Siege Batteries RGA were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire.The usual armaments were 6 inch, 8 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers, although some had huge railway- or road-mounted 12 inch howitzers. As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines.

1917 Nov 17. Married in Bristol Register Office to Eileen Mary Eschle. They appear to have had 5 children. Eileen was the eldest daughter of Bernard Oswald Eschle and Mary Susannah Carrick. She was born in Pentre, South Wales, one of a total of 10 siblings, the youngest four of whom were born in Bristol.

Campbell's stated 'Rank or Profession' is, "Sergeant RGA." He was also recorded as a bachelor, aged 23. His father is named on the marriage certificate as Charles Luke O'Connor Kelly, a farmer. The witnesses were Victor Street and Alice Roberts. Campbell's address is given as 5 Ashley Hill, Bristol. Eileen's is given as 5 Gwyn Street, City Road, Bristol.

1917 Dec 13. Gazetted MM to 34071 Sjt. C. Kelly, R.G.A. (Kildysart).

1918 Jan 7. Commissioned. His record says that he had served in the ranks for seven years and 47 days

1918 Jun Leaves France to return to UK.

1918 Sep 24. Citation for MC in Gazette 2nd Lt. Campbell Kelly, M.M., R.G.A. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. While out with a patrol he encountered a strong hostile party, who bombed him, but by using his revolver he succeeded in getting away and bringing back information. Again he did excellent work with a party of gunners, with rifles, in holding up the enemy while the guns were being withdrawn. He frequently returned to the battery under heavy fire to obtain further supplies of ammunition, though at the time he was suffering from the effects of gas.

1919 Jan 3 Gazetted Croix de Guerre. 2nd Lieutenant Campbell Kelly, Royal Garrison Artillery

1919 May 1. He held a special appointment with the Intelligence Division, Irish Command, and was responsible for interrogating members of the Irish Republican Army. Became a major target for the IRA (see On Another Man's Wound, Year of the Disappearances, Spies informers and the anti Sinn Fein society, Execution

1919 May 12. A child was born while he was living at Devonshire Arms Hotel, Bandon. He is an Army Officer

1919 Jul 7 Gazetted Lieut, RGA

Served as Intelligence Officer for 6th Division, based on Victoria Barracks Cork. The IRA certainly believed that he was responsible for torturing prisoners, and although they plotted to assassinate him, never even got close to doing so.   (Robert C Ahearn BMH WS 1676 states ) He headed a group including Hammond, Keogh, and Cusack. They were known for ill treating prisoners but never left Victoria Barracks. I think this refers to Hammond, Koe, and Cusack (whom I cannot identify)

However Josephine Marchmont was his stenographer, and she was an IRA spy (she later married Florrie O'Donoghue of the IRA). So much of the work of the British Intelligence went straight to the IRA

1920 Dec 11. One of many attempts make to kill Kelly. IRA commander Seán O'Donoghue received intelligence that two lorries of Auxiliaries would be leaving the barracks that night and travelling with them would be a British intelligence officer Captain C J O'C Kelly.That evening, a unit of six IRA volunteers commanded by O'Donoghue took up position between the barracks and Dillon's Cross. Their goal was to destroy the patrol and capture or kill Captain Kelly. Five of the volunteers hid behind a stone wall while one, Michael Kenny, stood across the road dressed like an off-duty British officer. When the lorries neared he was to beckon the driver of the first lorry to slow down or stop. At 8PM, two lorries carrying 13 Auxiliaries emerged from the barracks. The first lorry slowed when the driver spotted Kenny and, as it did so, the IRA unit attacked with grenades and revolvers. As the IRA unit made its escape, some of the Auxiliaries managed to fire their rifles in the direction of the volunteers while others dragged the wounded to the nearest cover: O'Sullivan's pub. As far as I can tell Kelly was not on either lorry.

1921. WS1413 Major Campbell-Kelly of Glenbeigh 1921. One of the most. dangerous and efficient intelligence officers employed by the British was Major Campbell-Kelly who was employed as Head-Bailiff by the Killarney Board of Fishery Conservators and lived at Fuchsia Cottage, Glenbeigh, on the lovely coast of Dingle Bay. Glenbeigh and its environs is a beautiful holiday resort with two comfortable hotels situated in the midst of grand mountain scenery on the Coast of Dingle Bay and a few miles west of Killorglin, the home of the famous Puck Fair. It is a well-known fishing centre which embraces Caragh Lake and River and the Laune Fisheries as veil as a number of other smaller rivers.

Apparently G.H.Q. I.R.A. Intelligence got word that Kelly was operating in West Cork in Tom Barry's area and that he was from Glenbeigh, County Kerry. Collins communicated with me and gave me an outline of his history. He ascertained that his father had been in the R.I.C. in Clare or Galway where he married a lady of family named, as well as I remember, Vandeleur, that the lady's parents had him dismissed from the R.I.C. The son was brought up by the MacGillycuddy of the Reeks and Kelly joined the British Army at the outbreak of the South-African War and served through the campaign. Eventually he rejoined the Army during World War I and became a Major, and when he retired he got the job of Head Bailiff to the Killarney Board of Fishery for Glenbeigh district. Apparent he used to visit the McGillycuddys at Carntuoghill and Major John McGillycuddys at Ballinagrown near Annascaul where he formed the spy ring which included Daly of Caherpierse. Daly gave the names of the other membersof the ring who were all cousins and worked from time to time for Major McGillycuddy at Ballinagrown. Others in the ring were John Hennessy of tougher and a man named Clifford of Farnes, Castlemaine. Both mothers of the latter were aunts of the Daly who was executed. When Mick Collins wrote me about Kelly I went to Glenbeigh to see TomEvans, a friend of mine, and in reply to my enquiry he produced a photo of Campbell-Kelly as a Corporal in the British Army during the South African War. In this photo he had a scar over one of his eyes and he still carried the distinguishing mark. John Hennessy went to the United States after the execution of his cousin Daly, and Clifford, who had been shot in the leg previously for reporting to the R.I.C. about a summons he got to attend a Sinn Féin Court at Killorglin, was spirited away by the Auxiliaries from the County Infirmary, Tralee, before the I.R.A. could get hold of him. A number of spies of the photo were circulated throughout the Kerry Brigades and I suppose to other units as well.

Apparently Kelly had succeeded in joining an I.R.A. Column in Cork and actually took part in some operations against British Forces. In one ambush he managed to get away before it was over and got to British headquarters in Kanturk or Buttevant whence he led the British expeditionary force to capture the I.R.A. column under TommyBarry. I got on his track very quickly and alerted all units in my area to have a took-out for him and, though I tracked him to places in Kerry, I never succeeded in getting within striking distance of him. He always succeeded in getting away before we were able to reach him. On one such occasion he was at Lady Gordon's of Caragh Lake where he met Gobnait Ni Brudair (Lady Broderick) and tried to find out and contact the Brigade I.O. to Kerry I. Luckily, she did not tell him but came to me early the following day. She was astonished when I told her his history and he had moved on before we got to Lady Gordon's. On another occasion he stayed at the International Hotel, Killarney, as a priest and contacted a commercial traveller staying there whose brother was a battalion officer in County Cork. He stayed in the bar all the evening till about 11 p.m. with the traveller but did not succeed in getting the information he wanted. At times he used "soldier's language" in the bar and that made the other man suspicious. The boots the late John Keogh who was acting as Brigade I.O. to Kerry II, spotted the scar over his eye and remembered the man in the photograph. He sent me a message the following day but the bird had flown and his bed had not been slept in. I discovered afterwards that he stayed with Major McGillcuddy at Flesk Castle where they lived after their house at Ballinagrown had been burnt down accidentally. Kelly was a very clever Intelligence Officer. His second brother was in the Tans and eventually Kelly and a young son had to take refuge in Dublin Castle till the end of the war, when they cleared out.

1921 Feb 7. Kelly led a raid consisting of 4 Crosley's of Hampshire troops on Rahanisky House, Whitechurch and captured 14 members of an ASU, as a result of information from an informer.

1921 May. Pa Murray's Witness Statement "The ASU decided to concentrate on Capt Kelly. who was the principal British Intelligence Officer, and who had been responsible for the torture of Hales and others. He went frequently in a motor car to Cork jail, and it had been noted by our intelligence officers that Saturday morning was one of his regular mornings to visit the jail. It was decided that the ASU would tak up duty from 8 in the moring along the route usually taken by Kelly. Twomey and myself took up position in Patrick Street at 9 o'clock." But the attack was aborted when Twomey, who was in command of the ASU, became mentally unhinged.

1921 May 23. Pa Murray's Witness Statement "2 groups of the ASU had taken up positions along Washington St. An Intelligence Officer was placed some 50 yeards beyond myself and another man. 3 other members of the ASU were placed about 75 yards below my group. Capt Kelly came from the jail in an open car on this particular morning. And he had practically passed the intelligence officer before he was recognised. When we got the signal, the car had already passed us. And we signalled to the men further down. The car was going so fast that it was practically past them before they threw the bombs. One bomb was trown into the car but failed to explode. The second bomb hit the roof of the car and rolled off onto the roadway. Some shots were also exchanged, but Kelly escaped.

1922 Jan/Mar Born child at Bristol Gertrude P Kelly

1922 May 21. The undermentioned relinquish their temp, appts.: Spec. Appt., Cl. FF.—Lt C. Kelly, M.C., M.M., R.A.

1923 Jun 28. The departure of his brother (Robert) aged 22yrs (‘Retired Detective Constable’) ex Southampton for NY on the Veendam. He subsequently joined the Detroit Police Dept but died, after an 8 month illness, aged 32yrs. The US press note another brother (Owen) in NY .

1923 Jan 1. OBE to Lieutenant Campbell Kelly, M.C., M.M., Royal Garrison Artillery. Special Services in Ireland

1923 Feb 3. Lt. C. Kelly, O.B.E., M.C., M.M., to be Adjt., vice Capt. L. D. Joll, M.C. Adjutant, Portsmouth Docks, RA from 3 Feb 1923 to 10 Jan 1926

1923. Campbell J O’Conor Kelly was present at his sister’s wedding .

1923 Jul/Sep Born at Pembroke, Monica M Kelly

1925 Jan/Mar Born at Pembroke, Phyllis J Kelly

1926 Jan 11. Seconded for service with the Territorial Army, Royal Artillery. Glamorgan Heavy Bde.—Lt. C. Kelly, O.B.E., M.C., M.M., R.A., to be Adjt. and is granted the temp, rank of Capt. in the T.A. (with pay and allces. of a Lt.) whilst holding that appt. He held this position until he was dismissed the Army in July 1928

I am unsure of the dates of these two pension cards. He was only a Temp Capt from Jan 1926, and his OBE is from Jan 1923. Nor why one has "Mental Case"

1926 Oct/Dec Born at Cardiff, Robert P C Kelly

1928 July 24. Trial by General Court Martial. Kelly, C. Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) Offence: fraudulent statement . The charges against him of fraud were fairly massive, and he pleaded guilty. The charges are available . The total that he obtained by drawing money for himself from Army funds was over £300. He would appear to have been lucky to avoid jail.

1928 Aug 31. Lt. C. Kelly, O.B.E., M.C., M.M., is dismissed the service by sentence of a Gen. Court-Martial.

1929 Apr/Jun Born at Cardiff, Eileen G O Kelly

1939 Register Living at 35 Clayton Road , Coventry C.B., Warwickshire, England . He is a "Chief Air Warden" and Single

1939 Dec 16 " then being married to Eileen Mary Kelly feloniously did marry Elfrida A Holmes during the life of his wife" at Coventry. His first wife Eileen did not die until 1980, in Hillingdon, and still bore the name Kelly.

1941 Jan 28. Awarded the George Medal: Campbell Joseph Kelly, O.B.E., M.C, M.M., Control Officer, Works Air Defence Department, Coventry. Mr. Kelly's organisation and personal bearing have been largely responsible for the building up of a highly efficient Works Air Raid Defence team. His personal activities on the night of an intensive air raid were largely instrumental in saving his factory from destruction. He extinguished an incendiary bomb and immediately afterwards took twelve volunteers to help the City Fire Service deal with a serious fire. After that, they attended at another fire and on the way back helped to extricate the bodies of policemen who were trapped in debris left by high explosive bombs. A large high explosive bomb hit a works shop but fire was avoided by prompt action under Kelly's guidance. Until five o'clock in the morning Kelly continued to give inspiring leadership to his men. There was no cover for any of the working parties and they all carried out what was asked of them with fortitude and courage. Mr. Kelly was ably assisted in this work by David Lloyd, First Officer of the Works Auxiliary Fire Service

The George Medal is the second level civil decoration, after George Cross. The GM was instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI. At this time, during the height of The Blitz, there was a strong desire to reward the many acts of civilian courage. The existing awards open to civilians were not judged suitable to meet the new situation, therefore it was decided that the George Cross and the GM would be instituted to recognise both civilian gallantry in the face of enemy action and brave deeds more generally. Announcing the new award, the King said: "In order that they should be worthily and promptly recognised, I have decided to create, at once, a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. I propose to give my name to this new distinction, which will consist of the George Cross, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross, and the George Medal for wider distribution." The Warrant for the GM (along with that of the GC), dated 24 January 1941, was published in the London Gazette on 31 January 1941.

Extract from Coventry 14th/15th November 1940. Kelly, Campbell Joseph Captain ARP Control officer and fire chief at a large Coventry factory, the award of the George Medal. He had already gained in the last war and Ireland – the OBE, MC, MM and Croix de Guerre with palm. Mr. Kelly’s organization and personal bearing have been largely responsible for the building up of a highly efficient works air raid defence team. His personal activities on the night of an intensive raid were largely instrumental in saving his factory from destruction. He extinguished an incendiary bomb and immediately took 12 volunteers to help the City Fire Service deal with a serious fire, and on the way back helped to extricate the bodies of policeman who were trapped in debris left by a high explosive bomb. A large high explosive hit a workshop, but fire was avoided by prompt action under Kelly’s guidance. Until 5 o'clock in the morning Kelly continued to give inspiring leadership to his men. There was no cover for any of the working parties and they all carried out what was asked off them with fortitude and courage. Served with the Royal Artillery, MM at Passchendaele, MC in 1918. 26 Beaumont Crescent.

1941 Feb 11 George Medallist in Court - Coventry Captain Charged with Bigamy. Appeared at the magistrates court today charged with bigamy. Kelly who is in charge of a local ARP for a factory was in the dock for only a few moments and was remanded for one week on that charge. On December 16 1939 then being married to Eileen Mary Kelly feloniously did marry Elfrida Holmes during the life of his wife. He gravely shook his head when asked if he had any cause to show why he should not be remanded and was allowed to bail on his own funding of £5. The final result was that he was bound over for 2 years and ordered to pay his wife £2 per week.

1942 Feb 10 Death of Coventry George Medallist Hero of two great wars. Captain Kelly has died at his home. We cannot speak to highly of his services as an ARP controller a fire officer said today. He did marvelous work in every raid and was a man completely without nerves......He received his croix De Guerre in for serving with the French Fifth Army.

1942 Feb 14 1 Buried at Coventry Cemetery with full military honours, his medals were carried on a cushion behind him by the Home Guard. Coffin covered by the Union Jack and on it his helmet, belt and axe. The Home Guard fired three volleys. Those present included representatives of the fire department and factories.

His death cert shows that he died of kidney stones and other kidney problems

1944. Campbells mother, Margaret Fair, returned to Mayo from Clare and lived for sometime in Manulla near Castlebar and died in 1944

1947/8 his medals were returned by his niece to his widow (Eileen) in London.

2016 Medals auctioned.


we have found the original GM. My older brother took a closer look and found it among the miniatures displayed in the centre of an A4 sized glass case. This is the glass case (actually more like a picture frame for hanging on the wall) I remember my grandmother showing me, so I was half right when I said I had assumed that they were all full size originals. It would seem that my grandmother, being particularly attached to the GM, must have sold the rest for need of money. Now I'm wondering how we can reunite the full set of originals.

British Intelligence in Ireland

Edmund Kelly. he visited churchfield during the 20s and 30s .my grand father who was a lieutenant in Royal Irish Regiment during War 1 (stationed in richmond barracks may 1916 ) sent his son edmund charles to liverpool in 1930s to join irish guards as a "boy soldier"

Richard GM on WW1 Forum O'Connor Kelly was my grandfather. I am one of 5 children born to his daughter Monica and I was born in 1946. Of course I never knew my grandfather and neither my grandmother or my mother talked much about him, other than to say that he was a hero from the Coventry blitz. I remember my grandmother showing me his medals (I now realise that they must have been the miniature dress set) but for some strange reason I never questioned her on where they all came from. The GM from the Coventry blitz is all that I recall. My mother died in 2006 and my elder brother inherited the miniature dress set of medals. His son did some research and came across the notes from corisande, which then led me to this forum. Thank you for all of you who have contributed to this thread and for some disturbing information concerning my grandfathers bigamy. Maybe my grandmother did not wish to talk about that to the point where even my mother and other siblings were not aware of it. If they were, it was certainly never discussed within the family during their lifetime (my mothers brothers and sisters are now all dead). We are now particularly interested to know what happened to my grandfathers medals. We cannot believe that my grandmother would have sold them, but 'needs must' and maybe she needed the money. I do know that she was victim to a conman who deprived here of her valuable collections of stamps, coins and victorian scent bottles, all for 50 quid, but this was towards the end of here life in 1980, 7 years after the medals were sold for the first time by Sotheby's. I would be very interested to hear more from the participants to this thread. Particularly, kellyedmund (is he a relative?)...where did he obtain the information about Monica being trained as an s.a.s. parachutist?...I'm sure I would have know about that. She was in the RAF during WW2 and at the end of the war was based in a control room somewhere monitoring aircraft movements during air raids.