RFA West Lancs Bdes
680082 BDR. E. KAY. MM. R.F.A.
Ernest Kay was born on 15 September 1892 in Penwortham, and baptised at Penwortham St Mary’s on 23 October. His father was Richard Kay (b. 1856 in Penwortham), a railway clerk. His mother was Ellen Tomlinson Holmes (b. 1861 in Preston). Richard and Ellen were married in 1881 and they had 10 children, 9 of whom survived infancy: Richard (b. 1884), Thomas (b. 1885), Jane (b. 1887), Frederick (b. 1890), then Ernest, then Margaret (b. 1894), Ellen (b. 1896), Emily (b. 1899) and finally Harold (b. 1902). Richard snr died in 1909, so in 1911, Ellen was living with 7 of her children (5 at work and two still at school) at 4 Penrith Terrace, Penwortham (Penrith Terrace is now 28-34 Leyland Road). Ernest at the time was apprenticed to an upholsterer.
Ernest would have served with the Territorials before the War and when he signed up in the Royal Field Artillery he was given service number 855. He landed with 55th Division in France on 30 September 1915. At some point, Ernest was promoted to Bombardier. 55th (West Lancashire) Division fought at Guillemont and Ginchy (on the Somme), suffering severe losses especially at Guillemont. It was probably at Guillemont, serving with X/55 Medium Trench Mortar Battery, that Ernest displayed the bravery for which he was awarded the Military Medal (the announcement was made in August 1916). The Division also fought at Flers-Courcelette and Morval in September, and then in October 1916 they were moved to the Ypres Salient, at the time a relatively quieter part of the front. At this time, Ernest was given his new service number 680082. Although there were no major engagements in early 1917, there was constant harassment, shelling and raids.
In January 1917, 55th Division were first in reserve at Houtkerque, on the French/Belgian border, and then, on 25 January, they were moved up to support the defence of Ypres. In March 1917, 276 Brigade were engaged in the bombardment of St. Julien (Sint Juliaan) in retaliation for German shelling of St Jean. 5 men from 276 Brigade were killed during the period 3-9 March. By this time, Ernest had been moved to 55th Divisional Ammunition Column and he was killed in action on 9 March 1917. He was 24 years old.
Service No: 680082
Award: Military Medal
Date of Death: 09/03/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, 55th DAC/X55 Med TM Bty
Grave Reference: VI. A. 10.
Cemetery: VLAMERTINGHE MILITARY CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Richard and Ellen Kay, of Penwortham, Preston, Lancs.