The Express & Star on 21 September 1917 proudly proclaims that 28 Little Park Street in Wolverhampton is now the home of two men who have received the Distinguished Conduct Medal – Sergeant J. Kelly (No 240729) of the South Staffordshire Regiment and his brother-in-law, Sergeant John Wilson (No 73014) of the Sherwood Foresters
John Kelly was born in Wolverhampton in 1889. He married Lizzie Wilson in 1909, and they went on to have two children, Ethel and Edith, by 1914. He worked as a welder at Gibbon’s lockworks. In 1914, he joined the army. The Express & Star gives the following account:
During a daylight raid by five officers and 100 rank and file of the South Staffords on enemy trenches, he was in charge of a party which came upon a large dugout from which the enemy were commencing to emerge. The first German was shot, and the remainder retired into the dugout and fired from the entrances. Bombs were thrown into the dugout, and Kelly, with great personal bravery, descended into the place with a flashlamp and discovered that the enemy were still alive. He returned to the trench and called for volunteers. With Private S. Jones (10082) and Private R. L. Mountford (242031) he again went down the dugout and brought up four Germans, leaving six dead men behind.
John Wilson was born in about 1897 in Wolverhampton, and appears together with his sister Lizzie at 153 Bilston Street in 1901. This house appears to be some sort of boarding establishment as, as well as John and his family, there are an additional 17 individuals listed as boarders in that property. John worked at Pinson and Evans’s in Dudley Road when the war broke out, and he promptly enlisted. He received the Military Medal, and later was awarded the D. C. M. “for having single-handed attacked and killed two of a team of German gunners and captured their weapon.”
John Kelly died on 30 December 1917, and is commemorated at the Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe. Kelly’s receipt of the D.C. M. is also recorded in the Express & Star on 29 January 1918. John Wilson appears to have survived the war, and there are a few possible marriages for him.