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AND INFORMATION - WORCESTERSHIRE
12th WORCS. (WARLEY) BATTN.
HARRY MAC LEOD
Harry Mac Leod Kay
- always known as Mac - was a member of "D" Company of the
Worcestershire (Warley) Battalion whose territory was
the Quinton, Warley and Langley area on the
south-western side of Birmingham. Detailed images of
that Company in which Mac appears, and also of all
the Battalion officers, can be see on
this page of the
Mac Kay was born in
Central Wales. His father came from a well known
railway family in Crewe
and worked for the L.N.W.R. By
1907, when Mac was born, he had worked his way down
what is now known as the Central Wales Line as far as
Llandovery and would eventually find himself at
Swansea, working as a foreman on Black 5 locomotives.
Mac himself was educated at
Swansea and was a keen cricketer. He had a sister and
a younger brother who would later survive the sinking
of the Free French Navy corvette "Alysse" off
Newfoundland in 1942. In 1926 he moved to
in the Black Country, working first for
Houston and later for
The British Tabulating
Machine Company Ltd. (which together with
Ferranti later became ICL). He married Phyllis
Willetts in 1937 and by the outbreak of war they were
living at 14 Long
Mac spent the war years working with The British Tabulating
Machine Co. Ltd. in the maintenance of
electrical-mechanical sorting machines. Official
confirmation of his employment is seen to the left.
Early in the century BTM had obtained the UK
marketing rights to sell the American data-processing
machinery originally invented by Hermann
they manufactured the equipment under licence at the
factory in Letchworth.
During the war they were responsible for the design
and manufacture of the "bombe" machines essential to
code-breaking acitivites at
Bletchley Park. There was a BTM section
operating there throughout the war. It is not known
whether Mac had any involvement in, or even
knowledge of, these highly secret activities.
Mac's employment card reminds us
that the period was one of great bureaucracy. National
Registration was an obligation imposed on every
individual and the surviving records suggest a tight
Government control on many aspects of a person's life.
The following document issued on 9th June 1943 implies
an obligation to notify the authorities of any change
was probably a reserved one which would have precluded the possibility of call-up
into the armed forces. However he joined the Home Guard
on July 2nd 1940 and was a member of the local unit, "E"
Coy. of the 12th Worcestershire (Warley) Battalion
in which he served for a further four and a
half years, right up to the end in December
1944. At the
time of joining he was issued with yet another
card, to be carried at all times and
accompanying his Certificate of Employment
(above) and of course his National Identity
This further card
bears the title of "Worcestershire Defence
Volunteers" rather than "Home Guard". This is
because Mac signed up whilst the force was
known as the Local Defence Volunteers (L.D.V.)
before the change of name in late summer 1940
on Churchill's instruction.
image of "E" Company survives, photographed
outside Brandhall School on an unknown date, and
Mac appears in it. It
is shown below. A magnified version of it can be seen
on this page of the website.
Mac Kay is third row back, sixth from
Click on image to view a magnified version
Little information survives on Mac Kay's Home
Guard service which lasted for so many years, from mid-1940 until stand-down at the beginning of
What is still in his family's
possession is the certificate signed by King George
VIth acknowledging his dedicated service.
to that there is a family memory of the normal
storage place for his Lee Enfield .303 rifle which,
when not on active service, nestled companionably on
the top of the bedroom wardrobe.
But little else, so
far. As we wait for more to emerge, let this page
stand as a small tribute to him and his service in
defence of family, neighbourhood and country.
In Memory of
Harry Mac Leod Kay
and all his Comrades in
12th Worcestershire (Warley) Battalion.
most grateful to Paul Kay of Derbyshire for
providing the images and information on this
page about his father and for permitting their
publication on this website; and to Roy Bates.
Images © Paul
To view the
Worcestershire sumary page, please use the
Mems-Worcs link below
x113 February 2015 -
revised March 2015, 19th May 2017