Luke Patrick FAY MC

FAY, Luke Patrick

Service Numbers: 506, N439783
Enlisted: 17 August 1914, Broadmeadows, Victoria
Last Rank: Captain
Last Unit: Australian Flying Corps (AFC)
Born: Middle Creek, Victoria, 17 September 1894
Home Town: Ararat, Ararat, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Bank clerk
Died: Natural causes (sudden), 18 February 1965, aged 70 years, place of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Ararat Shire of Ararat WWI Roll of Honor
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World War 1 Service

17 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 506, Broadmeadows, Victoria
19 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, 506, 8th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '9' embarkation_place: Melbourne embarkation_ship: HMAT Benalla embarkation_ship_number: A24 public_note: ''
19 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Sergeant, 506, 8th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Benalla, Melbourne
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, 506, 8th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC / Gallipoli
6 May 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 8th Infantry Battalion
20 Feb 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 8th Infantry Battalion
25 Jul 1916: Honoured Military Cross, Battle for Pozières , 'For conspicuous gallantry during a night assault and capture of an enemy strong post. A heavy shelling the following day caused many casualties but, although badly wounded, he led his company forward when ordered to clear a trench.'
26 Jul 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Captain, 8th Infantry Battalion
18 Jan 1918: Transferred Captain, Australian Flying Corps (AFC)
26 Sep 1919: Discharged Captain, Australian Flying Corps (AFC)

World War 2 Service

8 Jun 1942: Involvement Captain, N439783
8 Jun 1942: Enlisted N439783

From Ballarat & District in the Great War, Facebook

Every time I start to research another of our Great War veterans I hope to find something interesting, a real story to tell. However, even I am surprised at what I sometimes find. Every now and then I end up shaking my head in amazement at the lives led by this remarkable generation. That was certainly the case with Louie Fay…..
Born at Middle Creek on 30 August 1894, Luke Patrick “Louie” Fay, was probably expected to lead a life of reasonable ordinariness. He was the youngest son (and second last child) of Irishman, Luke Fay, and his second wife, Geelong-born Margaret Liston. The family was not without financial means – they farmed the property of “Pine Grove” – but, they were far from the incredible financial wealth of the Chirnside family of Carranballac who I wrote about just the other day.
When most local children seldom progressed beyond the basic State School education offered in the Middle Creek area and usually left school for home or farm work, it was quite unusual that Louie was able to attain a position as a clerk with the Bank of Victoria in Ararat. It seemed that life was still going to be relatively mundane for the young man.
Then the world went to war and life for Louie Fay changed irrevocably.
Within days of his 20th birthday, Louie enlisted at Broadmeadows on 17 August 1914 – he was one of the very earliest volunteers and was the perfect example of fine young Australian soldiers who stunned their British counterparts with their amazing physique. The dark haired, blue-eyed recruit was a substantial 6-foot 2½-inches tall and weighed in at exactly 11-stone. His chest measurement of 37½-inches was far beyond the minimum expansion required by the AIF at that early point of the war. Louie also had two years’ experience with the local Citizen Forces, making him almost the perfect soldier. He was immediately passed fit, promoted to the rank of sergeant and assigned to E Company in Ballarat’s 8th Infantry Battalion under the popular commanding officer, Colonel William Bolton.
Louie’s first taste of the adventures he was to experience came during the voyage to Egypt. Having sailed from Melbourne with the First Contingent on 19 October 1914, he was to witness the exciting moments when one of the convoy’s cruisers, HMAS Sydney, defeated the German cruiser Emden on 9 November.
The excitement of this unexpected opportunity of travelling the world could be heard in Louie’s letter to his half-brother, William Fay, of “Ripon Lea” at Skipton.
‘…Well, fancy me being sent out to old Egypt, a place I have longed for years to see, and when I am knocking about doing my daily work, I don't realise where I am. There are the famous Pyramids that thousands have come to see, and thousands long to see; why, they are just ten chains away from my tent at Mena.
Now, there are about 30,000 troops camped here, and a fine sight it is. Talk about sand, there is nothing to see but rolling hills of sand and stone as far as the eye can reach. Mena is a small Egyptian village, situated about nine miles from Cairo.
You have read much about the ancient and romantic city, and it would take me hours to explain its many wonders and beauties. I have done a lot of touring since being here, and have been in every place of note in Cairo. It is a lovely city on the banks of the Nile, that beautiful river which flows through North Africa. All along its banks are plantations of orange trees and palms, and about half a mile from here there is a forest of palm trees just on the Nile River. Egypt, along the river, is one of the most productive countries in the world, about six miles from its banks being mostly barren. They have a great irrigation system, and it is very effective although very crude; a bull is yoked in an old water-wheel; and so the water is pumped from one of the numerous canals that go to make this country.
There are no fences here, everyone's property is divided, by a watercourse, and along the principal canals are the main roads. It seems funny to see, perhaps, 30 miles inland, a big canal boat sailing along, and everywhere you look you see them, for these canals are their main roads, and they are sent out all over the place. It is a great sight to see a caravan of camels of 100 or more on the move. Egyptians moving away somewhere, they use nothing but camels, donkeys and Arab ponies to do their work.
I go very often for a camel or donkey ride; a party of us go out and are away all day. The Pyramids are a fine sight; there are three of them-two large ones and one smaller-and then the Sphinx altogether. I am sending a photo I had taken on Xmas Day at the Sphinx. I climbed the highest Pyramid, which is 480 feet high.
We have a good time in camp, but we have been doing a lot of night work lately, getting ready for the real thing. We go out in the morning and bivouac all night. It is very cold lying in the trenches at night out on the desert, but very warm in the day time. We may be sent back to the Suez Canal, as the Turks are going to give us a fly; I hope we have a chance of giving them a go before we get to Germany. We are only six days travel from the real scene of action, and everyone is anxious to get there, and help to do his bit.
It was a great trip coming over - just a holiday trip, and coming up the Suez Canal, from Suez to Port Said, was grand. The Canal is just wide enough for two ships to pass, and you can throw a stone from one shore to another. We landed at Alexandria and remained there for three days; I had a good look over that old city. These cities are inhabited by every race under the sun, but you can get along splendid and soon pick up a bit of the language.
One day is the same as another here; we had a holiday on Xmas Day, but had to sleep out in the Boxing night. We drilled all New Year's Day, and I often wonder what the New Year will bring forth. I could write for hours, and then not do this strange land justice. It is just a huge fairyland, or Chinese garden. I cannot explain its beauties and mysteries, and would not have missed the trip for anything. I e been made Quarter-
Master Sergeant, a good game and pay is the same. I remain in camp, and only go out on special parades. I am putting in for a commission as lieutenant in the British Army, and if I get it I will leave here and go on to England and get to the war from there. I would not like to leave my mates; as there are some fine chaps here…’
Louie got his wish to go into action against the Turks – he was amongst the troops who stormed ashore at dawn during the historic Gallipoli Landing of 25 April 1915. Within days of arriving on the peninsula, Louie was promoted to company sergeant major. The highly prized commission was only a month away: he was appointed second lieutenant on 29 May.
Two months at ANZAC, living in appalling conditions, resulted in Louie falling ill. He reported sick to hospital on 21 June and was immediately evacuated to the nearby island of Lemnos suffering from diarrhoea and pleurisy. His condition was severe enough to warrant being removed to Egypt for treatment. He returned to his unit at Gallipoli on 6 August and soon wrote of his experiences to his brother, William.
‘…26th August:-
I am quite well, and to date have not received any injury worth mentioning from the Turks, and to have put in four months fighting at close quarters (our trenches are only 60 yards apart) is remarkable, considering the highly efficient means of killing that modern warfare has brought about.
I have been away for six weeks at the hospital at Lemnos and Egypt, suffering from pleurisy, which I contracted whilst in the trenches, but I have recovered, and I am back again in the trenches, where I do not wish to leave again until our task is accomplished - when that will be I don't know.
We have made good progress during this month, and troops are pouring in here (Gallipoli) daily; we have advanced on our southern front a good distance, and our left or southern section have also gained some important trenches. I cannot say when our next move will come, but I hope it will be soon, as we get tired of being in the position too long, and the Turkish batteries also locate us, and, of course, heavy casualties follow - one cannot imagine the effect of a heavy concentrated shell fire.
Our warships have done and are doing excellent work, and we have no difficulty in keeping our end up while we are supported by them. Our field-guns and heavy artillery are also doing well.
I like the military life, and as things stand now I would not be anywhere else but here. I was promoted to the rank of lieutenant a couple of weeks after landing here, so have had practically all my active service experience as an officer.
There is no need for me to go into the account of our landing on 25th April; it was grand, and the papers give a fairly good description of most of the things that happened on that day. I notice that they had a successful recruiting week in Victoria; the men responded well, and I must say we want them all here; as the casualties of the first Australian division were enormous, and we want men to take their places; if they don't come it means increased work and worry for those that are here, who are holding the line.
The daily routine gets monotonous, and the fact that the Turks, being within a few chains of us, does not worry us; there is a continuous rifle and machine gun fire kept up all day and night. Observation, of the enemy and his movements are carried out in the daytime, and if you put your head up over the trenches a dozen bullets come flying at you at once; every day and night someone gets either killed or wounded, but we have become so accustomed to it now that no one takes any notice. I am having rather a good time, and don't think I'll go back to indoor life again.
Dorie Grano is doing well; he is a lance-corporal, and a very game chap, and does his work splendidly…’
Louie’s desire ‘not to leave again until our task is accomplished’ was unfortunately not achieved; however, he did remain on the peninsula until the momentous evacuation in December. He arrived back in Alexandria on 7 January 1916.
After just six weeks in Egypt, word was received that Louie had been promoted once more – gaining his second pip to become a full lieutenant. Then, on 26 March, he began the voyage across the Mediterranean to France and the Western Front.
The 8th Battalion arrived in Sausage Valley at Pozieres on 22 July where they occupied the old German trenches for the night. They moved up the following day to support the 1st Australian Infantry Brigade on the southwest side of the village. During the night A Company (with Louie leading a platoon of men) assaulted and succeeded in taking a German strong post. The next day they were relentlessly shelled by the enemy artillery and suffered many casualties, including the company commander and four sergeants.
During the attack on Pozieres on 25 July, A Coy was detailed to attack and clear a trench on the battalion’s left flank. Louie Fay was promoted to captain to lead the assault. As the men moved forward, Louie was struck in the elbow by an enemy bullet. Although badly wounded he maintained his composure and kept his men together until relieved by Captain Gus Lodge.
For his work at Pozieres that day, Louie was recommended for the Military Cross – as was pointed out in the commendation: ‘This officer has always shown great courage & initiative.’
With his arm out of action, the decision was made to evacuate Louie to England. He was admitted to the 1st London General Hospital on 28 July. He was still there when it was announced that he had been decorated with the Military Cross. The investiture by King George V, was held at Buckingham Palace on Sunday 29 October 1916.
Whilst he was convalescing, Louie took the opportunity to travel across to Ireland to visit his father’s family. He was finally discharged from hospital on 8 November and rejoined his unit just ten days later. The Battalion Diary for that day records a heavy fall of snow – it was the beginning of a bitterly cold winter for the troops. And for Louie, still nursing a recently damaged elbow, the conditions must have been less than ideal.
In July 1917 Luke Fay received word from the Defence Department saying that his son had been severely wounded, however, a letter from Louie soon corrected things. He had been evacuated back to England for treatment on his troublesome elbow. He was admitted to the Empire Hospital for Officers in Vincent Square, London, on 22 June 1917. He wrote that he anticipated re-joining his battalion ‘shortly.’ The damage, despite over two month’s treatment, was too great for him to return to the frontline trenches. As a result, Louie chose to apply for a transfer to the Australian Flying Corps. He was discharged from hospital on 30 August and joined the AFC five days later.
During training, Louie was lucky to survive a nasty crash. He was flying a Sopwith aircraft when the engine developed difficulties, causing him to crash into a tree in the garden of an English farmer. Louie and his fellow officer walked away from the accident with just a few cuts and bruises to their faces. The aeroplane was completely wrecked.
Despite this near miss, Louie was hooked on flying. He wrote home to his brother, Frank, at Middle Creek, detailing his collision with the farmer’s tree and said that ‘flying thousands of feet above the clouds at 100 miles an hour is a great change from being in the trenches…’
Louie received his pilot’s license on 31 January 1918 and he took on the role of adjutant to the AFC in England.
As history would later show, nature was far more dangerous than enemy bullets and shells. The Spanish influenza pandemic that began in early 1918 would eventually kill between 50 and 100 million people worldwide. On 30 October 1918 – within sight of the end of the war – Louie Fay was admitted to the Wellesley House Officers’ Hospital in Aldershot, with influenza and pneumonia. His condition was listed as ‘dangerously ill.’ Grave concern was held for the young officer as the death toll to the disease continued to climb. But, Louie Fay was a survivor. He was transferred to the AFC Hospital at Tetbury in the Cotswolds on 16 November, where he continued to recover and was finally discharged well a month later.
Louie returned to duty in France on 4 February 1919. After just six weeks he was on his way back to London to begin preparations for his return to Australia.
On 16 June 1919 the Kaisar-i-Hind docked in Melbourne to a tumultuous reception. On board were over 800 soldiers and pilots – the reports in the local newspapers painted quite a scene!
‘…An enthusiastic welcome 'was extended yesterday to a large contingent of Australian flying men who returned to Melbourne by the steamship Kaisar-i-Hind.
It had been the intention of the military authorities to allow a number of pilots from the Point Cook aviation school to fly over the Bay to meet the returning air men and escort them into port, but when it was found that the wind, blowing half a gale, was tearing across the water at a speed of nearly 40 knots and hour (sic) it was deemed prudent to cancel the demonstration. But the conditions did not deter Messrs. Fenton and Carey, the two airmen at Port Melbourne who recently purchased several old Maurice Farman machines from the military authorities, from ascending, and as they flew over the incoming transport they were loudly cheered by the troops on board.
The stiff breeze somewhat delayed the arrival of the Kaisar-i-Hind, which did not show up in the Bay until nearly 2 p.m., at which time the troops were scheduled to disembark. But the vessel berthed in record time. In fact, so quickly was she brought alongside, aided by the breeze, that there seemed a danger of the pier being carried away. The timbers were given an exceedingly severe 'squeeze,' and a portion of the wood work fronting the sea was badly splintered.
An enormous fleet of motor cars attended at Port Melbourne to transport the men into the city, and shortly after the Kaisar-i-Hind was sighted, flying the pennant of the Australian Flying Corps, in addition to the Australian flag, the cars drew up in procession on the pier in readiness to take the troops off. There were over 1000 troops on the vessel, of whom nearly 800 were Victorians, the majority members of the Flying Corps. The contingent included a goodly number of distinguished soldiers and many men with decorations. Very little time was lost in getting the men ashore and conveying them to the 'finalising' depot at Sturt-street, where they were examined prior to receiving leave…’
Amongst the distinguished officers on board was Captain Louie Fay MC. He was whisked straight home to Middle Creek where welcome home festivities had been planned well in advance of his arrival. The Middle Creek Hall was filled to overflowing when Louie was presented with a gold medal by the people of the district. His 12 year-old nephew, William Jess, penned a letter to columnist “Aunt Patsy”
‘…Is not it great that the war is over? I had an uncle at the war, who has just returned. His name is Capt. L. P. Fay. He went to the war among the first of the men. He put four years and nine months in at the war, and he got wounded in the arm. He landed home on 16th June, 1919. We gave him a "Welcome Home" in the Middle Creek Hall, and there was a big crowd of people there…’
Louie settled back into civilian life once more. He chose not to return to banking, remaining instead at “Pine Grove” working as a farmer. However, it wasn’t long before another adventure called the young man.
In 1921 Louie moved to New Guinea to take up the manager’s position of the famous Gili Gili copra plantations at Milne Bay. He then found someone to share the next stage of his life – on 24 April 1924 he married Victorian girl, Dorothy Jean Gilmour Wallace, at the Registrar-General's office, in Rabaul.
Dorothy fell pregnant before the end of 1924 and returned home to Australian for the birth of their baby. Jane Dorothy Fay was born at Arundel, Victoria, on 18 August 1925.
The arrival of a second daughter, Alice Valentine Marigold, occurred before Louie and Dorothy decided to end their marriage. Dorothy applied for a divorce in December 1934 claiming desertion; the divorce was granted in July the following year.
With the entry of Japan into World War II, the territories north of Australia quickly began to fall to the advancing enemy. Only days before the Japanese arrival in Milne Bay, Louie Fay loaded his 25-ton ketch with the families of his fellow planters and sailed them out of immediate danger. He was bombed whilst in Port Moresby, but eventually managed to make it safely to Townsville in Queensland.
Louie then returned to active duty as a flight lieutenant with the Royal Australin Airforce. With the coast watchers he spent 18 months reporting enemy movements from the Japanese territory of Bougainville. His partner in this dangerous operation was wireless expert, American, Frank Nash. He was discharged from the RAAF on 6 December 1945.
After the war, Louie took ownership of the copra plantation of Maritsoan at New Ireland. By 1953 he was looking to branch out into growing cocoa – he planned to establish a plantation of 500 acres on nearby New Britain. These efforts resulted in a major expansion of the cocoa industry in New Guinea following the destruction of the plantations during the war.
Louie remained in New Guinea for the rest of his life – he loved the peace of New Ireland and was always happy to promote the area – especially when “outsiders” described his adopted homeland as ‘savage’. His sense of humour still allowed him to see the lighter side of such ignorant comments.
The death of his elder daugher, Jane, in August 1960 must have been a particularly sad time for Louie Fay.
With the approach of the 50th Anniversary of the Gallipoli Landing, Louie Fay had hoped to attend the ceremony with an RSL contingent. On 18 Feb 1965, Louie was on his way to Rabaul to attend a medical examination to ascertain his fitness for the trip when he suddenly collapsed and died.

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