Distinguished Service Medal, GVI, Sick Berth Attendant H.W. Kelsey,Landing Craft Flak (Large) 6, Royal Navy, awarded for the famous Dieppe Raid on 19th August 1942, known as Operation Jubilee, & previously mentioned in despatches.
Naming officially impressed: “MX. 67219 H.W. Kelsey, S.B.A.”
Harry William Kelsey was one of four Sick Berth Attendants present on L.C.F. (L) 6 on 19th August 1942, accompanied by about 16 Sailors and 60 Marines, the ship was ‘literally bristled with guns’, tasked with escorting the LCTs under the command of Lieutenant W.K. Rogers, Royal Marines, S.B.A. Kelsey was the key part of the successful treating of 53 wounded commandos.
The description of his ship from the Book; Tragedy at Dieppe by Mark Zuehlke:
“Each group had at least one protective support ship. Landing Craft Flak, Large 6, for example, escorted a group of LCTs. The LCFs were LCTs converted into floating gun platforms by anchoring top decks onto their sides.
They literally bristled with gun turrets, mounted four double 2-pounders could be directed against naval or land targets.
The LCFs had a normal complement of sixteen sailors and sixty marines, the latter manning the guns. Lieutenant W.K. Rogers commanded the marine contingent on LCF6 which had arrived off Newhaven at 2000 hours to meet up with its LCT Group. During two hours spent cruising off the harbour while awaiting the appearance of the LCTs, Rogers briefed his marines that their job this night was to escort a raiding force to Dieppe, “There was a spontaneous cheer!” he wrote.
The next paragraph describes Kelsey’s role onboard:
“The LCF would also serve as an amphibious field-dressing station during the raid. A medical officer and two stretcher-bearers were aboard. They had brought with them a large stock of stretchers and cases of medical supplies”
“It was almost dark before Rogers saw the LCTs emerge out of the murky gloom of Newhaven harbour. The LCF’s commander flashed a light signalling the LCTs to form on him. Then LCF6 led the group off. Rogers detailed half his marines to be on duty at any given time; the other half were allowed to sleep “on deck around their guns.” As the group entered its assigned minefield passage, he noted how well it was marked by the buoy lights.”
The recommendation for his award by Lieut Cdr Heatty, R.N. made on 31st August 1942, only 12 days after the raid.
“This rating is the Sick Berth Attendant of L.C.F. (6). Throughout the action he showed great courage and efficiency under continual fire.
Three other Sick Berth Attendants were lent to this craft for the operation but it was Kelsey’s cheerful example and devotion to duty which was responsible for the care and attention paid to the 53 wounded carried in this craft.”
A full account is at TNA:Pro Defe 2/334: “Narrative by Lt W.K. Rogers, R.M. O.C.R.M. Detachment in L.C.F.(L) 6, 28 Dieppe Raid.”
A rare award of the D.S.M. to the often unrecognised service of Sick Berth Attendants, during WW2 out of more than 7000 D.S.M.s awarded, only 49 were to Sick Berth Attendants. The post raid naval report also states that L.C.F. L 6 managed to shoot down 2 Ju88 Planes during the raid.
The disastrous Dieppe Raid bore many honours including 2 Victoria Crosses, onto to a British & a Canadian, 8 D.S.O.s, 36 D.S.C.s, a C.G.M. along with 49 Distinguished Service Medals, only 2 of which were to Medical Personnel including Kelsey announced in the Dieppe Raid Supplement to the London Gazette on 2nd October 1942.
Kelsey was personally awarded his D.S.M at the Buckingham Palace on 27th October 1942 by King George VI.
He had already been awarded a Mention in Despatches in the London Gazette of 5th August 1941, for his service as S.B.A. on HMS Newark for the Collision with Volunteer on 17th April 1941.
During this time they were 80 miles off the Coast of Ireland in the western approaches, when they ran into each other, they were taken to Belfast for repair the next day, but lives were lost in the collision, HMS Newark lost one man & Volunteer lost 6, SBA Kelsey was likely responsible for preventing further loss