A detailed account of the life of Walter George McKay.
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Walter George McKay was the son of James McKay and Fanny Rich and was born in Greenwich on the 31st August 1905. In 1911 when he was just 5 years old, the Census records him living with his Grand-parents, George and Sarah Ann Rich in Souldrop, Bedfordshire, rather than with his Parents and 2 older sisters in Greenwich.
Following his Father's Death on the 31st January 1913, his Mother, Fanny successfully petitioned the Duke of York's Royal Military School, in Dover, on the 21st October 1913, to accept Walter as a pupil. He entered the School on the 28th October 1914 and remained there until the 11th July 1919. A copy of his Records were obtained from the School including his Conduct Sheets which suggest that he was not the happiest of pupils at the School. There are several entries of disobedience and mis-conduct as follows:
29.3.15: Disobedience of School Orders - 2 Days Confined to Barracks
6.4.15: Continually tearing his trousers - 4 Days Confined to Barracks
11.2.18: Irregular Conduct - 4 Days Confined to Barracks
27.5.18: Wetting his bed and not reporting it - 5 Days Confirned to Barracks
27.5.18: Insolence - 2 strokes with a Switch
4.2.19: Swearing in the Day Room - 2 Strokes with a Cane, 4 Days CB and forfeit 1 Good Conduct Badge
Despite his behaviour, he did also earn 3 Good Conduct Badges, 2 of which he managed to retain when he left the School at the age of 14 years on 11th July 1919.
Upon leaving the School he gained employment for a few years and I was told as a child that he had worked for a time on the Battersea Power Station, apart from that, there is no record of his employment at that time.
He enlisted in the Grenadier Guards at the West Kent Recruiting Office in Maidstone, Kent on the 30th October 1923 and was stationed at Penge in Surrey. On the 7th November 1923, he applied for and was granted a transfer to The Scots Guards and was posted to the 1st Battalion. His entire service was spent at 'Home' during which time he completed the following training courses:
3rd Class Education Certificate at Caterham, 1923
2nd Class Education Certificate at Woking, 1924
Passed the Corporal's Examination in 1925
Passed the Sergeant's Examination in 1927
Passed the Regimental Instructor's Course at the Chemical Warfare School in 1928
Passed a Training Course on Carpentry and Joinery at Hounslow in 1929
On the 29th October 1930, he was transferred to the Army Reserve with the Rank of Lance Sergeant for a period of 5 years.
Soon after his Discharge, he commenced training as a Male Nurse at the Darenth Training Colony near Dartford in Kent and in due course qualified in the 'Nursing of Mental Defectives'. I have the original certificate that was awarded to him by 'The Royal Medico-Psychological Association' which states: "This is to Certify that Walter George McKay having been duly trained at Darenth Training Colony according to the Regulations of the Association has shown in examination Proficiency in the Nursing of Mental Defectives including Section A" and is dated May 1936. These days he would of course be referred to as a Male Psychiatric Nurse. The Certificate is displayed below.
Walter George McKay married Ivy Elizabeth Primrose Bailey in Christ Church Greenwich on the 8th September 1935, a few months prior to the completion of his training. Following their Marriage, they obtained a Council House at 10 Hillside in Lanes End, which was about a 2 mile bicycle ride to the Darenth Park Hospital where he worked. At the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939, although he was a trained soldier, it was deemed that he was in a 'Reserved Occupation', which barred him from enlisting for Military Service.
Walter and Ivy had 2 sons, Malcolm James in 1939 and myself, Neil in 1943. In 1947, Walter was able to arrange for a move to a larger and newly built house at 38 Morgan Drive, Stone, again only a short distance from the Hospital where he worked. In the last few years before retirement from the Hospital, he worked as the 'Night Superintendent', following which he worked as a 'Progress Clerk' at Vickers Armstrong (Engineers) Ltd in Dartford until his death on 17th July 1963.
As mentioned above, whilst in the Army, he passed a training course in Carpentry and Joinery, a skill he put to good use throughout his lifetime. As with many men of his generation, he could turn his hand to many things, much of which he taught to me.