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Richard Kay (1867-1950)

Ferryhill man served in the Australian Army

Richard Kay was born in Ferryhill in 1867. His father was William Kay, a platelayer for North East Railways, originally from Appleton, York. His mother was Elizabeth Kay, and Richard also had two siblings, named Dorothy and William. At the time of the 1881 census, the family were still living in Ferryhill. Richard’s mother, Elizabeth, is absent from the census but the reasons for this are unknown. The census also shows that Richard was already working as a coal mine labourer, despite being only 13 years old.

Richard would go on to marry Annie Mary Grant, and the couple had four children together. On 4 February 1897, aged 29 and 32 respectively, Richard and Annie boarded the ‘Orizaba’ ship with their four children, travelling to Albany, Western Australia to start a new life. On the immigration papers, Richard listed his occupation, and he was now a locomotive engine driver. The family settled in Western Australia, and in 1901 welcomed the birth of another child, Winifred.

15 January 1917 saw Richard enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force Railway Corps under the service number 842, stating that he was 44 years old. This contradicts his birth registration certificate in 1867 in Britain, suggesting that he lied about his age so that he wouldn’t be deemed too old to serve. Nonetheless, he was able to enlist and named his wife, Annie, as his next of kin, giving their address as Newcastle Road, Auckland Junction, Western Australia. He took his medical examinations in Perth, and was described as being 5ft 7 inches tall.

On 23 January 1917 he was promoted to the rank of warrant officer, and continued to be based in Australia before arriving in England on 24 March. Richard then proceeded to France on 11 May, arriving the following day. On 11 June he was promoted to second lieutenant and posted to the 5th Australian Battalion. He was further promoted to lieutenant on 1 September. On 16 October, he was sent to hospital on sick leave, where he spent over three weeks, re-joining his unit on 7 November.

Richard survived the final year of the war, and his commission was terminated on 10 September 1919. He received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his efforts in helping the Allies to victory. After the war, he returned to Western Australia, where he would live for the remainder of his life. He passed away on 25 August 1950, aged 82, and is buried with his wife Annie at the Midland Cemetery in Stratton, Swan City.

Civil Parish: Ferryhill

Birth date: 1867

Death date: 24-Aug-1950

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Newcastle Rd, Auckland Junction, Western Australia (Enlistment papers)

Religion: Church of England

Employment: Coal Mine Labourer (1881 Census)
Loco Engine Driver (Enlistment papers)

Family: Parents: William Kay
Siblings: William Kay, Dorothy Kay
Spouse: Annie Mary Kay
Children: Lillian Kay, Winifred Kay

Military service:

Warrant Officer
2nd Lieutenant
Australian Imperial Force
Railway Corps
5th Bn

Medal(s): British War Medal
Victory Medal

Gender: Male

Contributed by Steven Fraser, Middlesbrough

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