William Kay (1897-1918)
Urpeth man one of two brothers who served in the Australian Army
William Kay was born in Urpeth, Durham in January 1897 to parents William, a platelayer originally from Appleton, York, and his wife Elizabeth. He had older siblings, Richard and Lillie, but both of these had left the family home by the time of the 1901 census. Richard was born much earlier than William, in 1867, and had immigrated to Australia with his own young family on 4 February 1897, only around a month after William was born.
There are no records of the family on the 1911 British census, suggesting that the family had followed Richard and his family to Australia to start a new life as well. This is supported by William’s enlistment papers. When he signed up for the Australian Imperial Force on 15 March 1915, he listed his mother as his next of Kin, giving her address as Bell Street, Upper Paddington, Brisbane. After passing medical checks which declared him fit for service, William joined the Australian First Machine Gun Battalion at the rank of private, under the service number 2167. He was 18 years old, 5 ft. 7 inches tall with dark brown hair. Interestingly, William’s brother Richard also enlisted in the Army in 1917, two years after William signed up. Prior to joining the Army, William had been working as a bridge carpenter in Australia.
During his first year of service, William was admitted to hospital three times with bronchitis, spending over a month in the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital in France between September and October 1915. In January 1916, he was punished for two separate crimes. On 5 January he was charged for being absent from parade, and punished to seven days confinement to barracks. Later in the month, on 23 January, he was charged once more after attempting to break camp. In this instance, he was given 48 hours field punishment for his actions.
William was wounded in action on 24 April 1918, shot with a rifle to the side of his abdomen. He was transferred to 15th Casualty Clearing Station, where he was treated for the next two days, but died from his wounds on 26 April. He is buried at Ebblinghem British Cemetery in France, and received the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal for his efforts in helping the Allied Forces towards victory.
Civil Parish: Urpeth
Birth date: 1897
Death date: 26-Apr-1918
Armed force/civilian: Army
Residence: Urpeth (1901 Census)
Bell Street, Upper Paddington, Brisbane (Enlistment papers)
Religion: Church of England
Employment: Bridge Carpenter (Enlistment papers)
Family: Parents: William Kay, Elizabeth Kay
Siblings: Richard Kay, Lillie Kay, Winifred Kay
Australian First Machine Gun Battalion
British Expeditionary Force
Medal(s): 1914/15 Star
British war medal
Contributed by Steven Fraser, Middlesbrough
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