James Greer MCKAY

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MCKAY, James Greer

Service Number: 466
Enlisted: 25 August 1914, Broadmeadows, Victoria
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: 1st Machine Gun Company
Born: Cookstown, Ireland, July 1885
Home Town: Drummartin, Greater Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 19 August 1916
Cemetery: Serre Road Cemetery No.2
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

25 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 466, Broadmeadows, Victoria
19 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 466, 4th Light Horse Regiment, HMAT Wiltshire, Melbourne
19 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 466, 4th Light Horse Regiment, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
20 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 466, 4th Light Horse Regiment, ANZAC Gallipoli
24 Sep 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal
24 Nov 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 4th Light Horse Regiment
19 Jan 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Corporal, 1st Infantry Battalion
20 Jan 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 1st Infantry Battalion
12 Mar 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 1st Machine Gun Company
2 Jul 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 1st Machine Gun Company
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 1st Machine Gun Company, Pozières
19 Aug 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 1st Machine Gun Company, Mouquet Farm

James Greer McKAY

James Greer McKay was the fourth-born, and 2nd youngest son of William C. McKAY and Annie STUART.

J. Greer McKAY was born in July 1885 in Cookstown in County Tyrone, Ireland and his father and grandfather, Mr Samuel Smart, were in business in the town for many years. His Uncle was Mr. Foster McKay, Petty Sessions Clerk, Aughnacloy. The family were prominently connected with the First Presbyterian Church, Cookstown and his father and grandfather were successively superintendents of the Evening Sabbath School of that Church for about half a century.

The family left Cookstown for Leeds, Yorkshire around 1890 and lived at Consort Terrace, Leeds then later at 8 St. John’s Terrace, Belle-vue Road, Leeds where James was educated at Belle-vue Road School and Leeds Central High school. He worked in the family business as a Coal Merchant and was also actively associated with the Cavendish Road Presbyterian Church and was a member of the choir.

His father, William C. McKAY died in 1901.

By the 1911 Census, his maternal grandfather, Samuel SMART and his aunt, Laura SMART, had moved into the family home.

From 1909, he served with the Leeds territorial regiment, Yorkshire Hussars - A Squadron before he ventured to Australia in 1912, having had for fellow passengers on their first visit down-under Rev Thomas Glass and Mrs Glass then of the First Presbyterian Church, Cookstown and from then resident in Melbourne.

Thus, aged 26 y.o., Mr G. McKAY arrived from Liverpool into Sydney Australia on October 10 1912 aboard the Suevic. He was listed as being a Farmer heading to Sunshine[1] but made his way thence on to Drummartin.

At the outbreak of WW1, Greer considered returning to England to rejoin his original regiment. However when Australia offered its support to the "Motherland", after due consideration, he decided to enlist with the Commonwealth forces.

On August 25 1914, James Greer McKAY enlisted with the AIF at Broadmeadows, Victoria. His attestation papers show that he was 6 feet tall, weighed 11 stone 11 pounds and had a chest of some 36".[2]

Greer was assigned to the 4th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF, "C" Squadron Wiltshire Group, which embarked from Melbourne, Victoria on board HMAT A18 Wiltshire on the 19th October 1914. (The HMAT A18 Wiltshire weighed 10,390 tons with an average cruise speed of 13.5 knots or 25.00 kmph. It was owned by the Commonwealth & Dominion Line Ltd, London, and leased by the Commonwealth until 2 October 1917.)

After leaving Gallipoli he was sent to France, where he was attached to the 1st Battalion Australian Machine Gun Corps. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 2nd July 1916. He was killed during the night of 19th August 1916 during the battle operations near Moquet Farm in France (know as Mucky Farm to allied troops.) The gun crew under Lieutenant J.G. McKay were about to move off when they were all killed or wounded.

Captain W R French, in a letter to Mrs McKay says:- ‘Lieutenant McKay was one of the finest characters it has been my fortune to come across, and a more gallant officer never lived. He volunteered to relieve another lieutenant for six hours as he told me they had had a very bad time and considered they should be relieved.’

Mrs McKay had two other sons serving with the colours.

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