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Pte Robt KayRobert Kay was born in Bolton, Lancashire in June 1880.

In the 1881 census returns his family are shown as living at 15 Gregson Field, Great Lever, Bolton. His father, William, was an Iron Foundry worker, aged 30 yrs and mother Margaret also 30 yrs.

In 1891 the family are shown as: William 40yrs, an oiler/greaser, Margaret 40yrs a housekeeper, Charles 15yrs, Thomas 13yrs, Robert 11yrs,  Mary E  9yrs, Betsy 6yrs, William (Jnr) 4yrs, Nathan 1yr,  living at 52 Mill Street, Great Lever, Bolton.

Robert married Mary Jane Atkinson- Jones (b. Jan 1881) of 20 Plover Street on 1st January 1904 at St Bartholomew’s Church, Great Lever.

In 1910 Kay emigrated to Canada and resided at 210 Gibson Ave, Hamilton, Ontario with his wife now Mary Jane Kay.

On the outbreak of the war he returned to the UK from Quebec, travelling 3rd class aboard the SS Zeeland of the White Dominion Line. He landed at Liverpool on 15th December 1914. He had been preceded by his wife who had travelled over three months earlier.

On 21st May 1915 he enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and served in France with the 2/5th Battalion from 9th February 1917.

Besides the British War & Victory medals, Kay won the Military Medal for gallantry and devotion to duty in action on 26th October 1917 during the 2nd battle of Passchendaele.

During his service Kay suffered deafness and trench fever being treated at the base hospital Calais. He was classed as suffering 30% deafness debility attributable to his service.

He transferred to the Labour Corps Pte 646353 on 10th April 1918 and was posted to 386 (H.S.) Labour Corps, Colchester.

On 15th April 1918 he was presented with his MM at Heaton Park, Manchester which was a centre used to rehabilitate injured servicemen.

Kay was discharged from the Labour Corps on 1st April 1919, the cause of discharge being: No longer physically fit for service.

On 30th January 1920 he again embarked at Liverpool aboard the S.S. Metagama of the Canadian Pacific Line at Liverpool for his return home to Canada.

Additional Information: Robert’s older brother, Charles Kay, also served with the 2/5th Battalion and was killed by shell fire in April 1917.

Garry Farmer
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