MBE group to P&O Commodore 'Cape Horner'
Member of the Order of the British Empire, 1949-45 Star, Atlantic Star clasp France & Germany, War Medal. Swing Mounted. GVF
Captain William John Kelly was one of the last of the ‘Cape Horners’ who first rounded the Cape Horn under sail in 1917 on the Bellands.
The Bellands (see below) was a four-masted steel barque built in 1891 as Forteviot by W.H. Potter & Sons, Liverpool for Macvicar, Marshall & Co., Liverpool. 1926 broken up at Blyth, England. See photo below.
In later life Captain Kelly served with the P&O line and it is said by his daughter became the P&O Commodore, the Senior Master. This position was awarded warded to a captain with an exemplary service record, the position is the highest rank attainable within the P&O Cruises fleet and in this role the Commodore represents the interests of all ships and their captains.
Captain William John KELLY, M.B.E., F454.
William Kelly was born on November 12th 1901 at Liverpool and he first went to sea as an apprentice in March 1917 aboard the BELLANDS.
They set sail with coal for Buenos Aires on May 9th 1917 and the BELLANDS arrived in 73 days. It had taken almost a month just to get up the River Plate to Buenos Aires! Once the cargo had been discharged and ballast loaded the BELLANDS set sail for Australia. Late in 1917 they set sail from Melbourne with a cargo of grain bound for New York and they rounded Cape Horn in January 1918. From New York they sailed to Sydney with a general cargo, which included motor cars carried on deck. Sydney was reached in November 1918 and then the BELLANDS loaded a cargo of grain for Fayal, Azores, for orders. Cape Horn was rounded in February 1919 and the port of discharge was Dublin, Eire, where the BELLANDS arrived on May 5th 1919.
One voyage is recounted by Robert (d), who wrote that the BELLANDS had sailed from Frederickstad, Norway, with timber for Williamstown, Australia. At the start of this voyage William Barratt and Godfrey Wicksteed joined the BELLANDS and both joined the AICH. They arrived at Williamstown in November 1920. They left Port Philip with wheat bound for Saint Nazaire on January 1st 1921, via the Cape of Good Hope with three new sailors. One of which was Alan Villiers (e). This voyage was not a happy one and took 151 days (f) and the vessel was short of food when they reached St. Nazaire on June 6th 1921. William, Cecil,
Robert and Alan left the poorly led BELLANDS in Saint Nazaire.
William obtained his master’s ordinary certificate in 1927, number 044098. During the Second World War Captain Kelly was seconded to the RN in command of troop and munitions ships. In 1964 Captain Kelly was still employed as master with the General Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., and the P & O group. He joined the AICH in June 1964 and when he retired he was awarded the M.B.E. “for his fine services at sea” LG 8th June 1963 (g). William died aged 76 on January 1st 1978 at Esher, Surrey, and was survived by his wife and two daughters.
a. Lubbock, Basil. The last of the windjammers. Vol 2 p421.
b. Ibid. P196.
c. The South Spainer. 1/11 p15-23.
d. The Cape Horner. 5/4 p14-15.
e. Villiers, Alan. The war with Cape Horn. P213-4
f. Villiers, Alan. The set of the sails. P75-91.
g. The Cape Horner. 5/3 p18(O).
f. Mr S. Bellworthy, Granddaughter
Comes with research and soft copies of confirmation of medals, LG copy of MBE, Seaman's Certificate and death details. Also MBE box of issue & card.