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KELLY, James Harcourt

James Kelly was born at One Tree Hill South Australia, on 3rd November 1867[15]. He joined the South Australian Police Force on 1st May 1891. He transferred to the Northern Territory on the 1st March 1894. He is recorded as being on duty at Burundi on the 1st of July 1897. He resigned on the 31st March 1896. Whatever venture he embarked upon ended with his return to the police in the Northern Territory on the 1st of May 1897. From October 1899 to the 13th October 1903, he was stationed at Camooweal. He was then moved to Borroloola where he was stationed from 1st November 1903 until the 19th February 1904. He then was moved to and served as a Mounted Constable at Palmerston from February 1904 to November 1906. The Government Resident Dashwood CHS appointed him on the 4th October 1904 in a Government Notice to be the Clerk of the Palmerston Local Court. James then moved to Pine Creek where he commenced duty on the 13th November1906. He returned to South Australia on the 14th January 1911. It appears that James had returned to the Northern Territory because Government Notice 251 -14 signed by J.A. Gilruth the Northern Territory Administrator, appointed James Kelly on the 2nd of December 1914 to be Keeper of H.M Northern Territory Gaol Borroloola. On the 22nd December 1916, the 6 foot 2 inch tall James at the age of 42 years and declaring his occupation as “Mounted Police Constable”, enlisted in the AIF and became Private No. 3348 of the 28th Reinforcements’ of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Regiment. Leaving his wife Margaret, he embarked on the troop ship A17 HMAT Port Lincoln from Melbourne for Egypt on the 22nd June 1917. He disembarked in Suez on the 8th August 1917 and he proceeded to join the First Australian Light Horse Training Unit. On the 3rd January 1918, he was transferred to the Third Regiment of the First Australian Light Horse Brigade. At the time of James arrival, his Regiment was deep in the Sinai Desert undertaking aggressive actions in the direction of Jerusalem against a now retreating Turkish Army following the capture on the 31st October 1917 of the fortified city of Gaza. During that battle, the Fourth and Twelfth Australian Light Horse Regiments’ carried out a daring mounted charge against the Turkish and German forces who were well entrenched and defending the township of Beersheba with machine guns and artillery. On the 21st February 1918, the First Australian Light Horse Brigade of which James 3rd ALH Regiment was now a member, was in action near the town Kh el Auja ET Tahtani, which is near the biblical city Jericho. Three Regiments with a designated strength of 1000 to 1500 mounted troops would have made up a Light Horse Brigade at that stage of the Desert campaign. This was a huge change in operational circumstances for James who was used to patrolling the wilds of the Northern Territory with one or two Police trackers. Shortly after that action, the First Australian Light Horse Brigade took part in the heavy fighting, which culminated in the advance on Jericho. On the 3rd March 1918, James was struck off his Regiments active strength when he was admitted to the Field Ambulance for medical treatment. He had fallen heavily on a stone causing a contusion to his chest. His service record does not record how he actually received his injury. His injury was serious enough to delay his return to his Regiment until the 6th July 1918. He returned to his Unit, which was in action in the Jordan Valley. It was a most inhospitable location where the daily temperature was often in the high 40 C’s. The heat, poor sanitation and rations coupled with mosquito borne illnesses were causing a huge increase in medical evacuations. The numbers of medical evacuations were threatening the First Australian Light Horse Brigades’ ability to undertaken operations. The Official History states at page 633, Bell had only about 210 rifles available for the line. James served with the Third Light Horse Regiment, until the end of hostilities. He was a participant in the large campaign, which forced the Turks and Germans to retreat into Syria where they eventually sought an armistice. He embarked for Australia on the HMAT Port Sydney on the 4th March 1919. He was discharged due to the cessation of hostilities on 10th March 1919. It is not known when James and his family returned to the Territory. [It is not known what children James had. On his recruitment attestation form he stated that he had no children less than 16 years of age. That indicates that he may have had children older than 16.] He returned to the Northern Territory Police and served until his medical retirement on the 27th November 1927. In Government notice 241.21 dated 30th November 1921, Mr F.C. Urquhart the Northern Territory Administrator appointed acting Sergeant James Harcourt Kelly, of Borroloola, to be Sergeant of police from 1st July 1921. The Northern Territory Department of Planning and Infrastructure when naming Kelly Place in Rapid Creek in his honour recorded: ‘Named after Mounted Constable James Harcourt Kelly who was appointed in June of 1897. He served in the NT at Camooweal District, 1901-03; appointed keeper Borroloola Goal; Nov 1903; Pine Creek 1907; Roper River, 1908-09. Enlisted in 1917 and served until his retirement from the Police Force in 1928 after some 31 years in the Territory.’

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