This brave soldier turned bright spark engineer, is held in high esteem by the residents at Uniting AgeWell Queenborough Rise Community in beautiful Tasmania.
The 99-year-old plays a key role in the Anzac and other services at the facility to commemorate the armed services and remember those who paid the ultimate price during many wars.
Kay was born and educated in Hobart and always had a sharp eye for detail - including noticing, to his utter amazement, the number of pens stuck to the ceiling of a classroom, thrown there by bored students.
In 1941, Kay started work as a clerk with the Commonwealth Sub-Treasury, and a year later was called up for army duty with the Tasmanian Lines of Communication Signals.
Kay joined the 6th Military Signal District Signal Corps which was housed at the Beaumaris building in Sandy Bay Road. Following three weeks of training, the new recruits were attached to the 6th field Artillery Regiment at Brighton Camp. Kay was an instrumental mechanic in the specialist signals section and remained with this unit in Tasmania and various parts of Australia, including Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
Whist the regiment was stationed at Mona Vale, Kay and four other signalmen were sent to Melbourne on the SS Narana, for training at the Melbourne technical College. Kay spent three months undertaking an electrical course. Following this, the trainees were sent to a camp near Albury to regain their fitness after the months spent in a classroom.
In early September 1944 in time for Kay 21st birthday, the Division was shipped to Papua New Guinea. After a few days there, they relocated to the Japanese-occupied Island of Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.
Kay recalls how after their first night they were woken by gun fire, which they later found out was the American aircraft clearing their guns before take-off!
There were many poignant moments during the time Kay was stationed there, including watching the arrival of the Australian infantry as they marched down the track singing Waltzing Matilda.
By March 1945 the end of the war was in sight and the government offered scholarships to service men for further training. Kay was a bright spark and was accepted at the University of Tasmania where he gained a Degree in Engineering.
While at university, Kay met Audrey, they were married and went on to have three children. They remained as much in love as ever until Audrey passed away in 2018.Learn more about Queenborough Rise Community