Sunday, May 25, 2008

Col. Albert G. Kelly, 1892-1944

(Click to see larger pics at your own pace)

My great uncle, Col. Albert G. Kelly ("Al" to friends and family), was Chief of Staff of the 9th Armored Division from its activation in 1942 until his death in 1944. In my ongoing research of my family history (I've got the bug), I was struck by the irony and poignancy of his story, at least what I've gleaned from a few letters, newspaper clippings and pictures left by his little sister, my grandmother Harriet Raulston Kelly Vaught. She had my mother late in life so the generations go back a ways (just clarifying I'm not quite as old as the relation might imply).

After a career in the U.S. Army beginning in WWI, Uncle Albert's life ended--not in battle...not in a P.O.W. camp...but in his bed. According to his general in a letter to his mom (notice you can use the magnifying glass on the upper right of the linked page to zoom in to the graphic), Albert caught a cold during the trip to to England, and it got worse and worse until it brought on a heart attack on Sept. 19. This was just before his men joined the invasion of Europe, distinguishing themselves quite well, and just before he received an apparently-immminent promotion to Brigadier General. Kind of like Moses, in a way; led his people to the threshold, and could not cross over himself. Moses' sin kept him from progressing; can't say the same about my uncle, but he was a smoker, so in Baptist terms, the analogy is a sound one.

I'm sure Uncle Albert would've been disappointed and possibly ticked off had he known his fate beforehand. (Are you humming that Paul McCartney song yet?). But his contribution to the Allied victory was no less significant, in my eyes or (I'm sure) in the judgment of history (the collective body of knowledge of the past, not the TV channel--though they'd probably agree as well). I admit I'm not the most upfront, gung-ho, bumper-sticker-sporting cheerleader for our military, but I very much appreciate those guys and gals and the job they do, and I'm especially happy to share a name with this guy.


Carty said...

To get a feeling for the logistics and all out effort it took to launch the invasions, have a look at the books "An Army at Dawn" and "The Day of the Battle" by Rick Atkinson. He won a Pulitzer for his works about the Allied forces that landed in North Africa in 1942. We owe much to those who raised their hands in oaths of service, not knowing what their destination was or if they would ever make it home. Total commitment, total sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

I have a copy of a photograph taken (I think) in the spring of 1946 in Germany. It's a sign that reads:

In memory of ...

Died in England
SEPTEMBER 19, 1944

At the top of the sign is a bust of someone wearing a helmet.

My understanding from the gentleman that took the photograph is that this was a recreational area for Army personel in the area.

Mark Kelly Hall said...

I would LOVE to get a copy of that photo!! Can you get a good quality scan of it done and e-mail it to me? If the file is too large to e-mail (usually over 5MB or so, give or take) I can send you a link to upload it to me.

My e-mail is

Thanks so much if you can!