James was born in about 1880 in Brecon, the son of John Kelly and his wife Anne (nee Bullen) living at 1, Bailey Glaes Court and later 1, Buckland Row. John is listed as a hawker in 1881 but by 1911 is a general labourer.
By 1901 James has left home and is boarding at Garth Road, Builth age 23 and working as a fellmonger (a worker in hides and skins).
However, he returns to Brecon later and marries Theresa Watkins in the town in 1905.
James joins the Brecknockshire Battalion (Territorial Force) in March 1909 and his occupation is listed as labourer with Brecon Corporation, and he attends annual training with them for four years, until 1912. In the 1911 Census he is shown as returned to the family home, now at 54, The Watton, Brecon, and is working as a general labourer and listed as single.
On enlistment he initially joins the Liverpool Regiment before moving to the South Staffordshire Regiment. The regiment landed at Le Havre in October 1917 and came under the orders of the 7th Brigade in the 25th Division. They were involved in numerous battles on the
from a sunken lane with some units having to cover 1000 yards whilst under shell fire. There was close and vicious fighting but after three hours the men of the 119th broke through and occupied the north and east ridges. William was reported missing at the time and was not notified as killed until almost a year later.
Private James Kelly
South Staffordshire Regiment, 4th Battalion, service no.
Killed in action in France May 29th, 1918, aged 37
Commemorated at the Soissons Memorial, Aisne, France