Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lieut. James Kay

As mentioned in previous posts, my mother remarried when I was 2 years old, after my father passed away. Although I knew that my step-father and his sister were born in Lachine, Quebec and that my step-grandmother was born in England, I didn’t really know too much about the Kay family, other than the fact that my step-father’s sister, Helen was married to my father’s brother, Forbes Farrell, making my blood cousins my step-cousins! (I’ll post more on that in a future post).

Last weekend my sister Judy brought out a box of medals that belonged to my step-great uncle, James Kay that I hadn’t seen in years. She wanted me to take them as she knows that I am working on the family history and thought I would be interested in them.

James Kay was a name that we had heard about but whom we knew virtually nothing. All we knew was that he was my step-grandfather’s brother and that he was killed during WWI. I don’t even remember ever seeing a picture of him. My step-father didn’t know anything about him and my step-grandfather died when I was little so we couldn’t ask him. James Kay was just a name from the past.

While looking through the box of medals, we found a picture of him. Now we had a face to a name and James became a real person! This picture was the front of a post card that James sent to his mother dated January 1916.

We also found two tiny pictures, one of which was of his grave and temporary cross, with a hand drawn map on the back showing the cemetery where he is buried, but no name of the cemetery (although I could tell from the map that it was in France).

With the medals we also found his dog tag, which mentioned his Unit name. I told my sister that with this little bit of information, I would try to see if I could find James’ military information. The next couple of days were spent researching (after which my elbow gave me grief) and did I hit a gold mine! Not only did I find James's military information, I also found some information on my step-grandfather that I knew nothing about.

Stay tuned to see what I found.


  1. What a wonderful "ah ha!" moment for you both. There is nothing like the excitement you feel when you finally realise who's face you are looking at in those photographs.

  2. Can't wait to read what you found......