No.38040 Private Norman Ivan Lay
[Listed on the RSL Honor Board as Lay, N.]
[Listed on the Wyndham Presbyterian Church Honor Roll Board as Lay, N. S. but believed to be the same person]
Norman Ivan Lay was born in 1895 to Robert Lay and Jane Williams at Ballan in Victoria. The birth of their four boys was registered in Ballan, and the birth of their daughter Elsie was registered at Surrey Hills.
The children were:
- William Herbert John Lay (1888-1963)
- Fenton Henry Lay, (1890-1961), (A.I.F. No.529)
- Norman Ivan Lay (1895-1954), (A.I.F. No.38040)
- Ronald Sylvester Lay (1897-1969), (A.I.F. No.6535)
- Elsie Winifred Jean Lay (1902 -)
Norman's father, Robert Lay, was a farm labourer, and the family moved around the west of Melbourne as the children were growing up. The four boys were born at Ballan, and their sister was born at Surrey Hills. Between 1905 and 1909, Robert Lay worked as a boundary rider for John Percy Chirnside at The Manor in Werribee. From 1912 to about 1916 they lived at Crook Street in Bacchus Marsh, and then moved to 136 Bay Street at Brighton in about 1918.
Normal Lay took an early interest in the military life while at school, and spent four years with his local cadet unit.
Norman took his Oath of Service at Melbourne on 9 April 1917 at Melbourne, before he proceeded to Initial Training Camp. Once this was completed, he was appointed to the Field Artillery Brigade (F.A.) 31st Reinforcements at Maribyrnong on 22 August 1917.
Gunner Norman Ivan Lay embarked from Melbourne on 9 November 1917 per H.M.A.T. Port Sydney A15, with the 27th to 35th Reinforcements, and sailed for England. Accompanying him on the voyage was No.38047 Gunner Albert Ryan from Synott Street Werribee.
Their ship docked in Suez where they disembarked on 12 December 1917. After travelling overland, he embarked six days later from Alexandria per H.M.T. Karoa, and sailed in convoy before disembarking at Taranto Italy on 22 December 1917.
He then sailed on to England and disembarked at Southampton on 5 January 1918. Once ashore, he marched in to the Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery (R.B.A.A.) at Heytesbury on 5 January 1918.
After three weeks training, Gunner Lay was transferred to the No 2 Command Depot at Weymouth, on 12 February 1918, before being sent to France.
Before he could leave England however, and after a delay of four months, Gunner Norman Lay was diagnosed with synovitis of the right knee and it was decided that he should be invalided back to Australia for discharge.
On 7 June 1918, Gunner Lay embarked to Australia from England per Hospital Transport Ship Essex. His condition was recorded as "Casualty Synovitis right knee. For discharge".
On 1 August 1918, his ship berthed at Sydney, and he returned to the family home at 136 Bay Street, Brighton, to live with his parents.
Gunner Lay was discharged from the A.I.F. as medically unfit on 7 September 1918, two months before the Armistice.
Former Gunner Norman Lay of the 1st F.A.B. received a Werribee Gold Medal at a function held in Werribee on 30 August 1918.
Werribee Shire Banner, 5 September 1918, p.3.
After living with his parents at Brighton for a short while, Norman married Georgina Mary Ann Thomas at South Yarra on 2 October 1920, and the couple moved to 15 Smith Street, Moonee Ponds. They changed houses to 22 Smith Street in 1925, and to 26 Milverton Street around 1931.
The 1936 Electoral Roll records Norman Lay living alone at 25 Park Street, Moonee Ponds. His wife had deserted him, and he subsequently filed for divorce in 1937.
The Age, 8 June 1937, p.13.
At that time he was living at Murray Street in Yarraville, and working as a fitters assistant.
Around 1949, Norman had moved to 537 Plenty Road Preston, and had taken a job with the Victorian Railways as a fitter. He was still living alone.
In 1954, he was living at 4 Princes Street, St Kilda West and was still working as a fitter.
Norman Irvine Lay died at 12 Byron Street, Footscray - the home of his brother Henry Fenton Lay - on 22 November 1954, and is buried in the Church of England section of Footscray Cemetery.
The executor of his will, a Mr Joseph Arthur Frederick Worcester, advertised for claimants against the estate of Norman Irvine [sic] Lay.
The Argus, 29 April 1955, p.11.
Medals and Entitlements:
- British War Medal
- The name "Lay, N.I." first appeared in the Werribee Shire Banner Roll of Honor, 19 April 1917, p.1.
- His name appears on the Werribee Shire Oak Board as "LAY, N.”
- H.M.A.T. Port Sydney was originally called H.M.A.T. Star of England