A very fine South African Forces Second World War North Africa First Battle of El Alamein July 1942 Anti Tank Gunnery Troop Leader’s Military Cross group awarded to Captain J.G.C. Kelly, South African Artillery, later South African Engineers, who was decorated with supporting Australian troops with 2nd Troop 1st South African Anti Tank Regiment, on one occasion under extremely heavy fire, he remained in the open to render first aid to a wounded Australian, being wounded himself, and was in fact twice wounded in the battle, on 10th and 12th J
A very fine South African Forces Second World War North Africa First Battle of El Alamein July 1942 Anti Tank Gunnery Troop Leader’s Military Cross group awarded to Captain J.G.C. Kelly, South African Artillery, later South African Engineers, who was decorated with supporting Australian troops with 2nd Troop 1st South African Anti Tank Regiment, on one occasion under extremely heavy fire, he remained in the open to render first aid to a wounded Australian, being wounded himself, and was in fact twice wounded in the battle, on 10th and 12th July respectively.
Group of 6: Military Cross, GVI 1st type, reverse dated 1942; 1939-1945 Star; Africa Star; Italy Star; War Medal; Africa Service Medal 1939-1945; these last five all named with correct officially impressed South African issue naming; (53685 J.G.C. KELLY)
Condition: Good Very Fine.
John Gordon Christie Kelly was born on 29th September 1916, in Glasgow, Scotland, and having emigrated to South Africa, then found employment as a civil engineer, and resided in Uitenhage, Cape Province, as well as Braamfontein, but with the outbreak of the Second World War, he then joined the Union Defence Force at Johannesburg on 12th April 1940, being posted to the South African Artillery, and joining as a Gunner (No.53685) the 1st Medium Regiment. Kelly then went forward for a commission with the 3rd South African Officer Cadet Unit from 15th August 1940, and having been commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, then joined the 6th South African Field Regiment from January 1941, and as such disembarked at Suez, and saw service in Egypt and Libya from 23rd September 1941, being then promoted to Lieutenant, and then transferred to the 2nd Battery of the 1st South African Anti Tank Regiment within the 1st South African Division as a troop leader.
Whilst fighting in the Western Desert, Kelly’s troop co-operated with the Australian’s being attached to the 24th Australian Infantry Battalion in the 26th Australian Brigade, and having been wounded in action during the First Battle of El Alamein on 10th July 1942, this believed to have been severe burns from a shell splinter, then two days later in the battle whilst in action in the Teli-Es-Eisa area on 12th July 1942, he went on to perform the acts of bravery which led to the award of his Military Cross, the award being published in the London Gazette for 24th September 1942.
The original recommendation reads as follows: ‘On Sunday, 12th July 1942, Lieutenant Kelly’s Troop was co-operating with the 24th Battalion, 26th Australian Brigade in the Teli-Es-Eisa area. The Troop was in position along the southern slope of a ridge, which came under very heavy shell fire, mortar, and machine gun fire during the late afternoon when a strong attack was launched by the enemy. In spite of the heavy fire and without regard to his personal safety Lieutenant Kelly visited all his guns, which extended over a long front, and by his coolness and magnificent example maintained the highest degree of morale. At one gun position where the fire was extremely heavy, he remained in the open to render first aid to a wounded Australian - in spite of sustaining a slight wound in the forehead, he remained with the wounded man until darkness fell. Lieutenant Kelly had previously suffered severe burns from a shell splinter, but in spite of his injuries he remained on duty.’
Kelly was at the time of the action still borne on the books of the 6th Field Regiment, and according to his service records did not transfer to the 1st South African Anti Tank Regiment till January 1943, but this was clearly how long it took the official records to catch up with the local postings.
His service as a civil engineer appears to have then caught up with him, as he was transferred into the South African Engineer Corps on 14th April 1943, being then posted to the 38th Railway Construction Company from 20th July 1943, before being detached to a Middle East School to attend a course on mine lifting from 30th August 1943, and returned to his unit on 10th September 1943. Kelly then saw service with the 38th Railway Construction Company in Egypt and then Italy, having been promoted to Temporary Captain on 3rd February 1944, he then embarked for the Union on 16th August 1945 and was discharged on 4th October 1945. Additionally entitled to the 8th Army Clasp.