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Thomas Kelly-Kenny

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Category: Military
Reference No: 8627
Status: Available
Price: £15.00
  Thomas Kelly-Kenny

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Irish-born solder.

Kelly-Kenny joined the Army in 1858 and saw action in China in the Second Opium War (1860). He was mentioned in despatches and decorated for his service in Sinho and at the taking of the Tanku and Taku forts.

By the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899–1902 he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant-General, General Officer, commanding the 6th Division of the South African field force. He was twice Mentioned in Despatches and received the Queen’s South African Medal with four clasps. He was involved in the relief of Kimberley, the battles of Paardeberg, Poplar Grove and Driefontein.

At the battle of Paardeberg Kelly-Kenny had a conservative plan to besiege Cronje and bombard his force from a safe distance with superior artillery. When Roberts fell ill, he appointed Lieutenant-General Herbert Kitchener, by then famous as “Kitchener of Khartoum” for his defeat of the Dervishes in the Sudan. He overruled Kelly-Kenny and ordered an assault on the Boer trenches. The result was 'Bloody Sunday' – a totally unnecessary sacrifice of hundreds of lives on the British side.

Kelly-Kenny was involved in the engagements at Poplar Grove and Driefontein where the 6th division distinguished itself by its fight after a six-hour march under a scorching sun. These were viewed as key in destroying Boer morale and winning the war. After that, the war became a series of guerilla skirmishes.

Kelly-Kenny was a close friend of King Edward VII, who treated him as confidential military advisor. In October 1901 he was appointed Adjutant-General to the Forces. This was at the insistence of the King, who liked him for his industry, administrative capacity, honesty and hostility to corruption and self-aggrandisement. Although the Commander in Chief, Lord Roberts, and the War Office didn’t share his high opinion, they could do little to stop the appointment, and Kelly-Kenny stayed in the post until 1904, when the Army Council was established.

In his day the General was a celebrity, appearing on cigarette cards commemorating his Boer war successes and marches. He often stayed in both Sandringham and Frogmore as a guest of the Prince of Wales and Prince Arthur of Connaught on shooting parties.

This is a fine ink signature, cut from a letter on a piece measuring 2.75" x 1.75". There's a tiny tear in the top right corner (well clear of the signature) but condition otherwise is very good.