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Kelly, Sir David Victor (1891–1959)

Sir David Kelly, chairman of the British Council and former Ambassador to Russia died yesterday at his home, Tara House, Inch, County Wexford, Ireland. He was 67 and had been ill since Wednesday with a cerebral haemorrhage.

Sir David was the son of David Frederick Kelly, of Trinity College, Dublin, and Clare College, Cambridge. Born in South Australia and of Ulster stock, he was educated at St Paul’s School and Magdalen College, Oxford, obtaining a First Class degree in History, and was nominated for the Foreign Office in 1914.

He served in France from 1915 to 1919, and was brigade intelligence officer with the 110th Infantry Brigade from 1915. He was awarded the M.C. in 1917.

Entering the diplomatic service in 1919, he served in Buenos Aires, at the Foreign Office, in Lisbon, Mexico, Brussels, and Stockholm, and again at the Foreign Office in 1931. He was in Cairo in 1934, Minister in Egypt (with local rank) in 1937, and Counsellor in the Foreign Office from 1938 to 1939.

From 1940 to 1942 he was Minister in Berne. He was then appointed to his first Ambassadorship, at Buenos Aires. In 1946 he was appointed Ambassador to Turkey. He was Ambassador to Soviet Russia from 1949 to 1951.

In Moscow he was an outspoken representative of Britain during those difficult cold-war years. His bluff directness and his understanding of the Russian people made him a valuable asset to the Diplomatic Corps.

He was made a Knight of Malta in 1954, and his chairmanship of the British Council began in 1955. He had made many European lecture tours and spoken on television and radio. He was appointed president of the British Atlantic Committee on its formation in 1953. He was also a member of the council of the British Society for International Understanding and of the International Atlantic Group.

Sir David wrote several books about his travels.

Original publication

  • Glasgow Herald (Scotland), 28 March 1959

Citation details

'Kelly, Sir David Victor (1891–1959)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 28 September 2020.

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