Robert MacDonald Hay was born in 1888 in Garston Lancashire. His father was a Scotsman, Alexander Hay who seems to have spent his working life as a railway agent. The mother, Mary was a Welshwoman born in Wrexham which was in Flintshire then. We have traced the family living in Halewood, Liverpool in the 1901 census. Alexander was 49, Mary was 40 and their children were Robert 13, Rosalie 11, Alexander 10, David 7 and Dorothy 5.
In the 1911 census the family was still in Liverpool. The mother Mary had died and widower Alexander was 59 and working as a clerk in a railway company as indeed was Robert the eldest son. Rosalie was a housekeeper for the family and the other two boys (Alexander and David) were working as Sea Stewards for a steamship company. Dorothy was 15.
His Army Service Records have survived and are accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk When he signed up and attested in Mold on the 12th February 1916. Robert gave his address as The Dolphin Hotel , Mold and his trade was ‘Clerk’. He was 28 years old. He was medically examined on the 21st October 1916. They recorded that he had been born in Garston, Lancashire and that his declared age was 28 years and 6 months. He was a railway Clerk. He was 5 feet 81/4 inches tall, weighed 158 lbs and had a chest measurement of 381/2 inches with an expansion range of 3 inches. His physical development was good as was his vision. He stated that he had contracted rheumatic fever 7 years previously. There were no cardiac issues. He had complete upper and partial lower dentures. He named his father Alexander Hay as his next of kin.
He was appointed to the 28th (County of London) Battalion (Artists Rifles) on 21st October 1916
He was in the UK until the 2nd February 1917 when he embarked for France at Southampton. He disembarked at Le Harvre on the 17th February. He joined his Battalion in the field on the 26th February 1917. His death was presumed to have happened on or since the 30th October 1917. There is an index card for Robert in The Flintshire Roll of Honour at The County Record Office in H awarden. The card says that he was killed at Passchendale whilst acting as a stretcher bearer. The Dolphin Hotel was given as an address. The card was signed by Alexander Hay, his father.
There is evidence in the Records that suggests that Robert’s family were unaware for some months of what had happened to him. This letter from Alexander Hay, Robert’s father, to the officer in charge of records in London, gives us some idea of the frustration that was felt. The letter was written on his Railway Company headed paper.
Mold and Denbigh Junction Railway
Traffic Agents’ Office
Earl Road, Mold
20th March 1918
No 762956 Private R McD Hay. 28th London Rgt. Reported missing on 30th October 1917. Army Form 1/28/1460 dated 10/12/17 B104-83
I am still without tidings of my son who has been wounded suffering from shell shock and missing for five months today and as I am still continuing to pay his life Insurance premiums I shall be glad if you can advise me in the matter or must I wait until after the declaration of peace
There is other correspondence between the army and Mr Hay concerning the return of Robert’s personal effects. Some of it is very difficult to read but it seems that Mr Hay was questioning why the only personal effects that were returned to him were some letters. There was a signed receipt for Robert’s two medals. His medal index card (on Ancestry) lists his two medals and states that his previous regimental number was 8952
After the war, in October 1919, Mr Hay was asked to complete a Living Relatives Form. It gives some family history.
The father Alexander was living in Mold working for the Flint and Denbigh Railway. His address was given as 12, Griffith Square Mold. The mother was ‘deceased’.
Alexander Hay, brother who was by then 27 was living in the USA address unknown
David Hay brother was 25 and was ‘at sea’ address unknown
Mrs Rosalie Williams (sister then married) was 30 and living in 37 Waverton Rd Liverpool
Dorothy Hay sister was 22 and living at 127 Rosebury St Liverpool.
The form listed an Uncle Anthony Charles Hay 69, 527 Tower Buldings Liverpool.
Robert McDonald Hay left a will. It is recorded in the National Probate Calendar (Index of wills and administrations) accessible on Ancestry. The entry reads
Hay. Robert McDonald of 9 Marlowe Terrace Wrexham Street, Mold, Flintshire Private No 762956 1/28 (County of London battalion) died on or since 30th October 1917 in France on active military service. Admin St Asaph 19th June to Alexander Hay Railway Traffic Agent £52..12sh ..0d
The register of Soldier’s Effects in which the army calculated what monies were owed to deceased soldiers, includes an entry for Robert McDonald Hay. The sole Legatee was his father Alexander who received a total of £7..9sh ..5d in two separate payments.