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Kelly’s Christmas Days – No 8, Mesopotamia 1917

December 19, 2016

Kelly was still in Nasariyah in 1917 but now confirmed as a Lieutenant Colonel and in command of the 1000-bed 83rd Combined Stationary Hospital and its field units spread along  the Euphrates towards Baghdad.

Christmas Day 1917 was celebrated in some style with choice of curried chicken, duck or roast beef with Yorkshire pudding for all the staff and patients not on a special diet followed by plum pudding, stewed peaches with cream or fruit jellies. The Indian staff and patients were also offered an extended menu for the day, which finished with a concert in the evening. Life was clearly much more relaxed in the cool, damp winter weather with the Turkish forces no longer posing any threat. The previous summer had seen record temperatures causing major problems with severe heatstroke.

The 46 year old Kelly was soon to be awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his role in the aftermath of the Siege of Kut and was about to propose to Gertrude Fenn, a nurse from Essex, who served at the 83rd CSH earlier that year.

The Kelly story is told in Fighting for the Empire.

Follow his remarkable life through 12 Christmas Days.

Next: Come back tomorrow!

Previous: No 7, Mesopotamia 1916

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