The search is on for living relatives of a Cumbrian RAF pilot who fought in World War Two.

Doug Aylward is part of a team trying to track down family members of those who fought in the Battle of Heligoland Bight.

The battle, on December 18, 1939, was the first named air battle of World War Two.

William Russell Kelly was among those to take part in it.

Mr Aylward and his team are now looking for relatives of Flying Officer Kelly in West Cumbria.

Fl Off Kelly was born in 1910 in Maryport.

His parents, William Russell Kelly, a house painter, and Mary Jayne, née Carr, lived at 3 Williamson Yard, Wood Street, Maryport.

Fl Off Kelly spent his childhood in Whitehaven where he attended the Irish Street school.

He was a member of the Whitehaven 2nd Scout Group.

After school he was employed by councillor H. Harrison.

He joined the RAF in 1928 and qualified as a pilot and was part of the 149 squadron on the raid to Heligoland.

This daylight operation was a baptism of fire for the RAF with the loss of 57 airmen and 12 Wellington bombers.

As a result of this disaster the tactics of Bomber Command changed to predominantly night-time operations and informed RAF tactics for the rest of the war.

Fl Off Kelly married Maud Jessie Brown in 1936 in Diss, Norfolk, and had two children – a daughter born in 1937 and a son born in 1942, a few days after Fl Off Kelly was killed in a flying accident at RAF Kemble.

He was buried at St Remigius Churchyard in Chursley, near Diss.

Mr Aylward's project aims to bring together the relatives of those who took part in the Heligoland battle so they can come together at commemoration events and share memorabilia.

Anyone who has any information on Fl Off Kelly should get in touch with Mr Aylward by emailing For more information on the project visit