Frank Parry Kay (1893-1918)

Rifleman Frank Parry Kay (1893-1918): Back of Photograph

Back of Photograph:
"With best wishes Frank
16th Kings Royal Rifles Perham Down
October 29th 1915"
Rifleman Frank Parry Kay (1893-1918)
Rifleman Frank Parry Kay (1893-1918): Medal Card

Medal Card

Cartoon (right):
"You're a blooming fine soldier!
'Ere's me taught yer everything I know,
an' you stand there an' don't know nothink!"
Frank P. Kay Nov 5/1915 K.R.Rs
Rifleman Frank Parry Kay (1893-1918): Cartoon

Frank Parry Kay was born on 4th October 1893 in Halifax Road, Blatchinworth, Lancashire.1 In 1894 Blatchinworth became part of Littleborough Urban District, and Littleborough is now part of Greater Manchester. Frank was the son and only child of William and Ada Kay.1 William Kay was born in 1861/62 in Heywood, Lancashire and worked as a cotton beamer.2 (A beam is a long cylinder on which four hundred or more cotton threads are wound side by side.) Ada Kay née Harrison was born in 1863/64 in Littleborough, the daughter of Abraham Harrison (born in 1836/37 in Walsden, Lancashire3), and had worked as a weaver.2 In the 1891 census they were living in Whitelees Road, Littleborough2; in the 1901 census they were living in Wellington Terrace, Littleborough3; and in the 1911 census they were living in Wellington Road, Littleborough, and Frank, 17 years old, was working as a clerk for a cotton manufacturer.4

Frank was 20 years old at the start of the First World War, and joined the 16th Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps as a Private, regiment number C/1032.5

The 16th (Church Lads' Brigade) Battalion had been formed in Denham, Buckinghamshire on 19th September 1914. They moved from Denham to Rayleigh, Essex, back to Denham, and then to Clipstone Camp, Nottinghamshire, where they joined the 100th Brigade, 33rd Division. In August 1915 they moved from Clipstone Camp to Perham Down.6 Perham Down is a village in Wiltshire, on the edge of Salisbury Plain, and the location of an army hutted camp that was built in 1915.7

On the back of the photograph of him, Frank wrote, "With best wishes Frank 16th Kings Royal Rifles Perham Down October 29th 1915".

The pen and ink cartoon by Frank was dated 5th November 1915. It is glued into an autograph album that belonged to his fiancée's younger sister, Mabel Dumville née Hellewell (1900–1976).8

The 16th Battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps landed at Le Havre in France in November 1915 for service on the Western Front.6 Frank arrived in France on 16th November 1915. (His medal card records the first theatre of war in which he served (France) and the date he entered that theatre (16-11-15).)9

The 16th Battalion were in action in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and the Battle of Arras, the actions on the Hindenburg Line, the operations on the Flanders coast, and the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917.6

Frank Parry Kay was killed in action on 12th March 1918 at the age of 24, and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing, near Passendale in West Flanders, Belgium.5 His name is also inscribed on the Littleborough War Memorial. He was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal, the British War Medal, and the 1914-15 Star, for his service in the First World War.9 10

Frank's father, William Kay, had died of natural causes one week earlier, on 5th March 1918, at the age of 56.11 Frank had been engaged to be married to Adelaide Hellewell (6 May 1894–6 April 1954).8 She was 23 years old when he died. She never married, but visited his mother, Ada Kay, every week until Ada died in 1942, in Littleborough, at the age of 78.8 12


  1. Birth Certificate for Frank Parry Kay, GRO reference December quarter 1893, district Rochdale, volume 8e, page 67
  2. 1891 Census for Whitelees Road, Littleborough
  3. 1901 Census for Wellington Terrace, Littleborough
  4. 1911 Census for Wellington Road, Littleborough
  5. Commonwealth War Graves Commission, retrieved 14 February 2017
  6. The Wartime Memories Project, retrieved 14 February 2017
  7. Wiltshire Council: Tidworth, retrieved 14 February 2017
  8. Hellewell family
  9. Medal card of Kay, Frank P at The National Archives, Kew
  10. The National Archives, Kew: British Army medal index cards 1914-1920, retrieved 14 February 2017
  11. Death Certificate for William Kay, GRO reference March quarter 1918, district Rochdale, volume 8e, page 114
  12. Death Certificate for Ada Kay, GRO reference December quarter 1942, district Littlebro', volume 8e, page 70