Woodman Alford Kelly (aka Dan, Ned)
15th September 1919 to 17th January 1989

 

Why am I writing about Woodman Alford Kelly or Dan as he was known to me?

I believe he died without family knowing where or how he lived the last years of his life.
I write in the hope that someone, some day may want to trace him and find this information useful for filling in those missing years.
He was living in Lyndhurst in the New Forest when I first met him, living on his own, separated from his family in Bristol.

When I first met Dan he lived in a rented upstairs room in a run down brick building on the one-way system (Chapel Lane, near where Haskells Close is now) in Lyndhurst. The landlord let rooms to those on Social Security Benefit and wasn’t inclined to spend money on improvements. The house didn’t look like it would last much longer, being in serious need of maintenance.

Dan was probably introduced to me by a lady called Hilary whose husband played the organ in a local church.

After a church outreach one weekend in Lyndhurst, where we walked around the streets playing guitars and singing choruses, Hilary met Dan on the street and got talking to him.
At that time our church was meeting at either Hythe Community Hall or Marchwood Junior School or one of the earlier venues at schools in Totton or Hounsdown.
Dan had expressed an interest in attending our church meetings so it was arranged that I would collect him on my journey across the New Forest from Ringwood.
Calling at the house in Lyndhurst I found Dan living in a single room on the first floor. The room was probably the untidiest I’d ever seen with opened newspapers scattered across cupboards, bed and floor. When asked about the newspapers he replied that there were mice in the house and the newspapers were to keep his things clean, to keep mouse droppings off the bed, shelves, clothes and kitchen utensils.

Beneath the newspapers his bed was covered in books and clothes, I wondered if he preferred to sleep in, rather than on, the bed.
He seemed to have a collection of cheap saucepans and kettles. When I asked why he had so many for a small bedroom dinette he replied that if he saw a mouse climb into one then he was reluctant to use it again, he’d rather go out and buy another.

When the time came to move into a ‘home’ he disposed of most of his pans and gave me a green aluminium kettle that we put to good use in our caravan for a further 20 years.

Dan came to church occasionally but only if I collected him up on the way. He didn’t always respond to the door bell and I didn’t pursue the matter but continued to call for him on following Sundays.

I found him to be a friendly, humorous and likeable person, he rarely spoke about his past but he did say he came from Filton in Bristol, which was familiar to me having moved from Bristol a few years earlier.

He said he had been married and I think he said there was a child, maybe a girl, left behind. He gave me the impression that he was not wanted at home but wouldn’t say more on the subject. From Lyndhurst he moved to Totton, Southampton to a first floor room in a purpose built house, a guest of Social Services.
The house in Lyndhurst was put up for sale soon after Dan left and I believe it was subsequently demolished and the land re-developed. In the new home Dan had a living room with a tiny kitchenette behind a folding door to the right of the doorway into the room. A separate bathroom on the same floor was shared by other residents.

He kept the place tidy, no newspapers necessary here, and we had many short chats about life in general including having a relationship with God.

He died, aged seventy on January 17th 1989 and was cremated at Southampton Crematorium near Bassett, Southampton where members of the church and a friend or two from the home attended the service.
The soldiers ‘lament’ was read because Dan had made it known to a friend that he'd been in the Army (read, I believe, by an ex-Army friend from the house).

Dick Hailwood, our church leader at the time, took the service.



Soldier’s Lament
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

If anyone believes they might be related to Dan and is interested in learning more then I may be able to help. He left a Bible, three diaries and a letter (from 'May', Southfield Park, North Harrow, Middlesex)
I hold a copy of the death certificate and letter from his last place of residence. Contact by email - quest(at)balmaha.net

(Document origin www.balmaha.net/dankelly/index.html)