Farewell to local hero Kenneth

CUMBERNAULD is set to bid farewell to its last surviving veteran of the World War 2 conflict in Burma.

Thursday, 20th June 2013, 2:25 pm

Kenneth Kelly from Cairngorm Gardens in Balloch passed away in Erskine Hospital last week after a long illness. He was 92.

The former shipyard worker who originally hailed from Largs is to be buried with full military honours at a funeral, which will take place on Monday, June 2.30pm at the Co-operative Funeral Parlour in Cumbernauld Village. This will continue to Falkirk Crematorium. The day will end at the Royal British Legion.

Mr Kelly was a member of the Royal Signals and was stationed in the jungle.

The British campaign to push the Japanese out of Burma was the longest and bloodiest of World War II.

It was conducted against a backdrop of scorching heat, intolerable conditions and the pitiless approach of the enemy.

Thousands of miles away from the battles in Western Europe, its soldiers were often known as the Forgotten Army.

Like many involved, Mr Kelly did not discuss wartime experiences but was decorated for his efforts.

And Mr Kelly’s medals included the legendary Burma Star.

He was often seen at Remembrance Sundays sporting these medals and the distinctive slouch hat.

This is worn by veterans of the conflict in Burma as well as the Australian Army.

Mary MacGregor, who is chairwoman of the Royal British Legion’s senior section, said that Mr Kelly was the last of a dying breed.

She added: “Kenneth was a true gentleman and he was always so smart. He glazed over his experiences in Burma and when he did bring in photographs to show us they were of after the war.

Another of his associates, Chic Archibald, was kind enough to share his photograph of this local hero when both were snapped at the Cenotaph at Cumbernauld Village.

He said: “Kenneth was an old and honourable soldier who served his country valiantly in its hour of need. We will remember him.”

Kenneth’s son-in-law David Bird who lives in Balloch said: “Kenneth was a decent, honourable and hard working man.

“He he liked things to be done in a certain way but he had a quiet way about him. He certainly had a lot of presence.

“Kenneth was a very fit man who once played for Largs Thistle and used to cycle down from Scotland to Weymouth to see his sister once a year, sleeping in haystacks to save the pennies!

“.The one consolation is that he got to meet his two great grandchildren, Sofia and Amy, before he died - he was quite tickled by that,” added David.

Mr Kelly had been dogged with health problems in his final years stemming from cancer and a series of strokes.

He is also survived by wife Betty and their two children Kenneth Junior and Irene.