1 IN REMEMBERENCE OF FRANCIS KELLY, UNITED STATES MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT: AMERICAN SPANISH WAR. By Lachlan Mac Neil Sandymount Cemetery I developed an interest in Sandymount Cemetery, located in the east end of Glasgow, just north east of Shettleston. I was drawn to the cemetery initially in the search for my sister s grave: Sarah died many years ago as an infant and is interred there. Coming from the east end of Glasgow myself, I must have passed that cemetery on countless occasions on my way to the Air Cadets in Shettleston but knew nothing of its glorious history. On my very first visit I was immediately struck and awed at the number of war graves I observed in the course of my search. This prompted me to carry out some investigative work into the history of Sandymount Cemetery and, in particular, its association with our war dead. It was during this search I discovered the unmarked grave of Francis Kelly in Lair 142. Sandymount Cemetery has an area of some 28.6 acres with 7,450 square meters of roadways and paths. There are approximately 5,950 monuments within the cemetery grounds of which 1,250 are Jewish and 350 Muslim. Glasgow and the Wars: There were several military hospitals opened in the City of Glasgow during the First World War. Glasgow was also the port of embarkation for the British Expeditionary Force of 1914 and provided the Headquarters to several Scottish Regiments. As a major port and shipbuilding center Glasgow played an important role in the Second World War effort and, as such, became a military target. This historical fact influences many of the monuments in Sandymount. During the First World War, Glasgow was also the reception center for the Scottish military dead and wounded arriving from the Front in France and Belgium. The dead were placed in rows on stretchers in the basement of Glasgow Central Station. There they were identified and collected by their grieving families. A principle feature of Sandymount is the Cross of Sacrifice, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield. The cross represents the faith of the majority, the sword being the military character of the cemetery. Crosses of Sacrifice are, in general, found in cemeteries with over 40 war graves. There are around 180 Commonwealth War Graves scattered throughout Sandymount to remember the glorious dead. There are 67 fallen heroes from the First World War, 110 from the Second World War, one French war grave and the most recent --- that of Guardsman Derek James Denholm ( ), 2 nd Battalion Scots Guards killed in action at Mount Tumbledown, Falkland Islands. Francis Kelly lies 5 meters from the resting place of Derek.
2 It is my aim to get recognition for Francis with the support of the Airborne Forces Association Scotland No 1 Branch. Resting place of Francis Kelly Sandmount Cross of sacrifice FRANCIS KELLY ( (US Medal of Honor Recipient) Francis Kelly, formally known as Archibald Houston, was born on the 5 th July 1860 in Boston, Massachusetts. Francis was the recipient of the American Medal of Honor, which is the highest military honour for bravery that can be bestowed by the United States Government and equivalent to the British Victoria Cross. Francis enlisted in the US Navy on 21 st April 1898, at the outbreak of hostilities between the United States and Spain. He signed up for one year onboard the U.S.R.S. Franklin at the Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia, yet within six weeks, this remarkable man had earned the prestigious Medal of Honor.
3 Francis enlisted as a fireman having amassed ten years experience of working in engine and fire rooms in the merchant service. The following day he was detailed as a Watertender on board the USS Merrimac. The vessel was loaded with coal ready to sail for the United States fleet under the command of Admiral William Thomas Sampson ( ) which was blockading Cuba. The steamship Merrimac was built at the Swan Hunter shipyard at Wallsend, Newcastle. UK. She was 322ft long and weighed in at 3,416 tonne and was originally launched as the Solveig in November She was purchased by Jefferson T Hogan of New York in December 1897 and rebuilt at the New York shipyard of John N Robins ( ) and Company. The ship was purchased by the United States Navy on the 12 th April 1898 having been commissioned the previous day. The Merrimac arrived at Key West on the 7 th May and anchored just off the fleet. Ten days later on the 17 th May the crew received orders to paint the ship black and on the 19 th May were due to set sail for Cienfuegos to provide coal for Admiral Winfield Scott Schley s ( ) fleet which was keeping watch on the harbour. The Merrimac remained at Cienfuegos until 28 th May when they were ordered to sail for Santiago. USS Merrimac The decision was taken by the Commander---in---Chief Admiral Sampson to Scuttle the Merrimac at the mouth of Santiago harbour to bottle up the Spanish fleet. On the 1 st June the crew of the Merrimac were ordered to dismantle her and with the help of the crew of the USS Massachusetts the Merrimac s guns were dismantled. Admiral Sampson, on the bridge of the USS York, asked for volunteers to sink the Merrimac in shallow waters at the harbour entrance. Only 6 volunteers were needed but nearly 600 men answered Admiral Sampson s call. Three of the six men chosen for the mission, to be led by Lt. Richmond P Hobson ( ) of the USS New York, were members of the Merrimac crew: Coxswain Osborn W Deignan ( ); Machinist George F Phillips ( ) and Watertender Francis Kelly. At daybreak on the 2 nd June, the Merrimac sailed towards Santiago harbour. Unfortunately for the crew of the Merrimac they were spotted by a Spanish torpedo boat that opened fired as they entered the harbour mouth and the
4 general alarm was heightened when the shore batteries commenced firing and a shot disabled the ship s steering. This prevented Lt. Hobson from positioning her correctly at the mouth of the harbour. The Merrimac was fired on both from land and sea as two of the Spanish fleet fired torpedoes into her. The crew had carried out their duty and abandoned ship but the small boat that was to be their rescue had also been sunk by enemy fire and they clung to the wreckage for an hour until they were picked up by the Spanish fleet. The six volunteers from the Merrimac were held captive at Morro Castle for 33 days until they were exchanged for Spanish prisoners of war. On their return to the American camp they were greeted with tumultuous welcome. Francis Kelly was awarded the United States Medal of Honor for his part in the events of the night of 2 nd June His Citation reads: The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Watertender Francis Kelly, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor in action in connection with the sinking of the U.S.S. Merrimac at the entrance to the harbor of Santiago de Cuba, 2 June Despite heavy fire from the Spanish batteries, Watertender Kelly displayed extraordinary heroism throughout this operation. General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 529, November 2, 1899 Action Date: June 3, 1898 Service: Navy Rank: Watertender Division: U.S.S. Memphis Francis remained in the US Navy after the Spanish---American War ended rising to the rank of Chief Machinist Mate. He moved to Scotland, married Agnes Campbell and lived at Nicholson Street, Townhead in the east end of Glasgow. Francis died aged 78 years on 19 th May 1938 in Glasgow. He is interred in Sandymount Cemetery: Lair 142. Lachlan Mac Neil. Sources: War with Spain Medal of Honor Recipients; US Army Centre of Military History; US Hall of Valor; Glasgow City Council, Sandymount Heritage Trail.
5 The Airborne Forces Association honours Francis Kelly.