William McKay

Name: William Stewart McKay

Rank: Lieutenant

Unit Served: 50th Battalion

Personal Details: William was born on the 6th of January, 1891 to Elizabeth and Joseph McKay at Croydon, South Australia. He was a tailor by trade and worked for Mr. H.E. Solly in Adelaide for 5 years before he enlisted. He was also a member of the Duke of Leinster Lodge in Adelaide. He was 5’5” tall and weighed 121 lbs.

Military Details: William enlisted on the 16th of September 1915 as a lieutenant. He had already served for 8 years in the senior cadets. He left Adelaide with the 5th reinforcement of the 50th Battalion on the 21st of September, 1916 aboard the “Commonwealth” and landed in Plymouth on the 15th of November. He attended an officers training course in December of 1916 and early January 1917. On the 15th of February 1917 he was taken on strength by the 50th Battalion. On the 17th of April he returned to England to assist training troops and returned to the 50th Battalion in October. On the 10th of Novemeber he was taken ill and spent time in hospital until the 30th of November. On the 21st of December he returned to France and on the 25th he rejoined his Battalion. During early April the 50th Battalion was involved in halting the German advance near Dernancourt. On  the 24th of April, 1918 William Stewart McKay was killed in action when the 13th and 15th Brigades recaptured Villers-Brettoneux. His body was not recovered and he is remembered on the wall of the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Brettoneux. There was a Lieutenant Kay of the 50th Battalion killed at the same time and a grave with his name was placed in the Adelaide Cemetery near Villers-Brettoneux. Due to the similarities between these two, the authorities decided to mark the grave as an unknown Lieutenant of the 50th Battalion. This grave is in Plot III, Row M, Grave 13.

Date of Death: 24th April 1918

Age at Death: 27

Memorial Details: Australian National Memorial, Villers-Brettoneux

Commemorated by


Bethany Jurgs

2nd December 2008