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The following article was written and submitted by Mark Groom, the grandson of William Henry Kay. Thank you, Mark, for sharing this research with our readers.

A brief Wartime History of William Henry Kay

Born in the parish of St Mary’s Oldham on 1st December 1889 my Grandmother’s step-father joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 11th August 1914 leaving his trade as a Spinner behind.  He was 5 foot 3 tall and weighed in at 138lbs at the time of his attestation.

He joined the 6th Battalion the following day moving to Tidworth and later Blackdown for training before departing England at Avonmouth aboard the Braemar Castle on 16 June 1915, their destination being Gallipoli.  He arrived at Cape Helles on 7th July 1915 where he proceeded to be in and out of the line until relieving the Auckland Battalion at Chunuk Bair on 9th August 1916. The following morning at sunrise the Battalion along with the 5th Wiltshire’s were overwhelmed by the Turks, my Great Grandfather receiving a bullet wound to the neck and being admitted to the New Zealand Field Ambulance before being taken from Mudros Harbour aboard the Aquitania back to Southampton and hospital at Netley.  He was discharged to depot (Preston) on 15 October 1915.

He was then posted to the 9th Battalion in early January 1916 embarking for France on 19th before joining the Battalion at Steenwerck (France) in early February 1916. He saw action at Givinchy in early May, Ovillers between 7th and 17th July 1916 and around Thiepval in August before the Battalion were taken out of line and moved to Franso on 12th September 1916.  It was here he was tried by Field Court Martial for striking his superior officer and sentenced to 18 months hard labour being remitted by 12 months and released at 22nd December 1916.  He rejoined the Battalion at Ploegsteert Wood being made a Lance Corporal in January and a Full Corporal at May 1917.

He fought at Messines on 7th June 1917 and at Westhoek on 10th August 1917 receiving the Military Medal for rescuing his officer in the latter action before again being shot and wounded in his left arm and both thighs!  He was then moved back via the Casualty Clearing Station at Brandhoek to Hospital in Etaples.  He remained in hospital (somewhere?) until December 1917 before again being returned to the Depot Battalion at Preston.

He then embarked from Folkstone arriving in Boulogne on 1st February 1918 before again joining the 9th Battalion on 18th February in the Achiet le Petite sector.  It was at Achiet le Grand on 21st March 1918 that he was reported missing in action, in fact being captured on 26th March 1918 and taken to Munster Camp in Germany, his war now over.  He was repatriated and returned to Preston on 6th January 1919 before demob on 4th April 1919 and a return civilian life in Todmorden never to talk about his experiences again!

Paul McCormick
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One Response to 10892 CPL. W. H. KAY. L.N.LAN.R

  1. Carolyn Eyles says:

    I’m pretty sure this was my grandfather. Thank you for the great information!
    I never met him but the name, d.o.b, birthplace and his return to Todmorden (where he married my grandmother)are the same. My mother also mentioned the bullet in his neck and military medal.
    I have a copy of his application for the Yorks and Lancs 8th. But I have a different Reg no. (13059). Could you shed any light on this please? Very many thanks. Carolyn

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