Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915, Private Elijah Kay, 1st/4th Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, was killed in action during the Battle of Festubert.
The youngest of four children; his father was a gas stoker and his mother, who had been a cotton mill worker, died when he was two years old. His father remained a widower and worked hard to raise his children alone, who each left school as soon as they were able to work in the cotton mills.
Private Kay’s service papers have been lost, but it is known that he enlisted shortly after the outbreak of the Great War. His battalion was sent to France on S.S. Onward on the 4th of May in 1915. Just over a month later they took part in the attack on enemy positions between Rue d’Overt and Chappele St. Roch during the Battle of Festubert. It has been described as “the great bayonet charge”, and that night Private Kay was one of the many men killed.
Private Kay’s wife received the information that he was missing, and went to the press with a plea for any information on his fate. His body was reported as not being recovered from the battlefield. His name is on the Le Touret Memorial to the Missing, and also on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in Preston.
Elijah, from Preston, was 23 years old and married with a nine-month-old son.