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Elijah Kay was born in Preston in 1892 the son of Elijah and Mary Jane Kay (nee Bainbridge). Elijah was one of four children born to his parents who had married on the 19th December 1885 at St. Thomas` Church in Preston. Elijah`s three other siblings being; Thomas (1886), Elizabeth Ann (1888) and Mary Jane (1894).

In the Census taken the year before he was born Elijah`s parents and older siblings lived at 53 Gordon Street in Preston where his father was working as a gas stoker and his mother was a cotton mill worker. Sadly, Elijah`s mother Mary Jane passed away in 1894 and by 1901 Elijah Senior had moved house with his four children to live at 11 South Meadow Street. Elijah`s father was now employed as a blacksmith`s striker and his elder brother Thomas was labouring in a timber works.

On the 23rd October 1909 Elijah`s brother Thomas married Ellen Cornwell at St. Paul`s Church in Preston and in 1911 the couple were living in Bootle Street in Preston. Elijah`s father was living alone at 9 Nelson Street in 1911 and working as a labourer while Elijah and his two sisters were boarding with Margaret Whittle at 20 Fish Street just off Lancaster Road, all three employed in one of the local cotton mills.

Elijah married Mary Alice Gillibrand in the Parish Church of St. Mary in Preston on the 11th April 1914 and in the September quarter of the same year a son John was born.

Unfortunately Elijah`s service papers have not survived but at some point after the outbreak of war he enlisted into the 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at Preston and was allocated the service number 3040.

After several months of training Elijah embarked for France on the 4th May 1915 as a member of “C” Company sailing on the SS Onward with the main body of the 1/4th Battalion. The Battalion had only been in France for a few short weeks when they were ordered to take part in their first major action attacking enemy positions between Rue d`Overt and Chappelle St. Roch during the Battle of Festubert.

The attack, often described as `the great bayonet charge` took place as scheduled on the evening of the 15th June 1915, sadly Private Elijah Kay was one of the many men that lost his life during that attack and in the hours that followed. To read more about Festubert click HERE.

Mary Alice Kay who was living at 21 Emmett Street in Preston received the news that her husband was missing in action and she had the following printed in the local paper;elijah kay 1-4thbn

Elijah`s body was never recovered from the battlefield and as such he has no known grave, his name was later inscribed on the Le Touret Memorial to the Missing.

After the war Elijah was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and his family would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice for his country.

His name is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in his hometown of Preston.

Rank: Private
Service No: 3040
Date of Death: 15/06/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, C Coy, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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