Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Born in 1877 at Portsmouth, Richard Owen Kelly was from the second generation of Kellys to have lived in the town. His father Richard snr. was born in Ireland and arrived in Portsmouth sometime in the 1870s. His reason for choosing to move to Portsmouth is unknown as he doesn't seem to have had a trade that would have made the town a natural attraction, his first recorded job being that of a railway porter.
Richard snr. was a fortunate man in that not only had he obtained a job quickly but he also found a bride in Louisa Ann Flux whom he married in 1875. Louisa had been born at Northwood on the Isle of Wight in 1850. The couple too were lucky in that they had found a place to live just a few yards from what was probably Richard's place of work, at 2 Canal, overlooking the main railway line into Portsmouth.
By 1881 Louisa had given birth to four children, Wilfred, Richard Owen, Herbert and Louisa and by 1891 the family had moved to 1 Percy Road, Southsea, accumulating another three children, Letitia, Frederick and Margaret, in the process. The move may or may not have had something to do with Richard snr. changing employment from porter to that of a coal agent, an opportunity he may have spotted whilst working on the railway.
Another move to 60 Broad Street, Landport in time for the 1901 census also hints at improving employment prospects as Richard was then a Foreman of Railway Carriers which may have combined elements from both his previous jobs. By 1901 however his son Richard Owen no longer lived at home, having joined the Royal Navy in 1897. His early naval career is largely unknown but his private life has left one important highlight in the records, namely his marriage to Mary Jane Thomas in 1910. If they settled in Portsmouth however the 1911 census does not readily reveal.
At the outbreak of the Great War Richard Owen Kelly was serving aboard HMS Invincible which saw action at Heligoland Bight after which the ship was posted to Admiral Sturdee's squadron which saw action at the Battle of Falkland Islands. Later, in 1916 she took part in the Battle of Jutland at which she was sunk with all but six members of her complement.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Richard Owen Kelly, Chief Stoker (290749), Royal Navy, HMS Invincible, died 31/05/1916, age 39. Has no known grave and is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 15). Son of Richard and Louisa Ann Kelly, of Portsmouth; husband of Mary Jane Kelly, of 103, Northend Grove, Northend, Portsmouth.
Richard Kelly is also commemorated on the St. Jude's Church WW1 Memorial and the Cenotaph. He is listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X, p321 which records his rank as Chief Petty Officer.
Tim Backhouse
September 2014