Battle of Britain London Monument – S/Ldr. D P D G Kelly

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – S/Ldr. D P D G Kelly

 

Dillon Piers Denis Gerard Kelly was born on 4th August 1915 and was educated at Beaumont College, Windsor. He entered RAF College Cranwell in September 1933 as a Flight Cadet.

 

 

After graduating he was commissioned on 27th July 1935 and joined 4 (Army Co-operation) Squadron at Farnborough. He was appointed ‘B’ Flight Commander in August 1938.

At the outbreak of war Kelly was posted to HQ British Air Forces in France, arriving on 15th January 1940. On 15th June 1940, while delivering some documents by air, he discovered twelve Hurricanes parked unattended on the airfield at Angers in Brittany. He had only flown the type once before but managed to fly one to the airfield at Nantes, where No. 1 Squadron were based.

They recovered the remaining Hurricanes and Kelly flew with the squadron until its withdrawal from France to England on 18th June. The day previously he had flown a patrol over the RMS Lancastria as it sank off St. Nazaire, if not flying with No.1 Squadron he would have been aboard it.

Kelly went to 7 OTU Hawarden on 1st July 1940 where he converted to Spitfires and then joined 74 Squadron at Hornchurch on 15th July 1940.

He was made ‘B’ Flight Commander on the 23rd and he destroyed a Me109 on the 28th. He relinquished his command on 31st August and was posted to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 8th September as an instructor. He became OC ‘D’ Flight there on the 28th.

In late January 1941 Kelly went to 604 Squadron at Middle Wallop. He moved to 93 Squadron, then also at Middle Wallop, in April and in late November he joined 125 Squadron at Fairwood Common.

Kelly was given command of 255 Squadron, operating Beaufighters at Coltishall, in December 1941. He led the squadron to North Africa in November 1942. During the nights of 14th/15th December and 17th/18th December he destroyed two Ju88’s.

The earlier sortie was carried out in Beaufighter VIF V8462 and a piece of the disintegrating bomber struck the port wing, stopping the port engine and forcing a return of some 70 miles on one engine. The Beaufighter landed to one side of the runway to avoid blocking it but in doing so struck a parked Hurricane, writing off both aircraft.

Kelly and F/Lt. A Lammer escaped with minor injuries but were thereafter lauded by the squadron for scoring ‘three confirmed’ in one night.

 

 

Above: his victories were recorded on a Wing scoreboard.

 

In late March 1943 Kelly was posted to HQ North Africa Air Forces as Officer i/c night operations.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 21st May 1943) and returned to the UK in January 1944, attending the Staff College in August.

After the war Kelly was RAF representative on the Allied Control Commission in Finland until August 1948, when he was posted to 5 PDC at Waterbeach. A further Staff college course was followed by a stint at the Air Ministry which ended in August 1951.

He returned to flying, converting to jets at 22 FTS and 226 OTU at Middleton St. George then going on to appointments at Gutersloh and Ahlhorn in Germany which ended in December 1954.

1955 found him as Chief Instructor, School of Land/Air Warfare which after two years led to a Staff position at HQ 13 Group followed by his final posting to Supreme HQ Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).

Kelly retired on 7th October 1961 as a Group Captain. He had been Mentioned in Dispatches four times throughout his service.

He held appointments in the Western European Union in Paris before retiring in November 1975.

Kelly died on 11th February 1987.

 

Additional research courtesy of Geoffrey Kelly (son).

 

 

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