Albert, James, and Lewis Hay were the sons of Chinese born Joseph Hong Hay and his Australian born wife Annie. They were members of the Tingha Mushroom Rugby Union team in 1912 and 1913 and also played for the Inverell team against Manly at Inverell in 1914. With their nephew, Marmion, all four enlisted and served during World War 1.
James, Albert and Marmion were among the nineteen recruits who marched together through the streets of Tingha on Sunday 16 April 1916. They were home on final leave and the town turned out to farewell them.
Lewis (28) was the first to go in August 1915 with the 7th Light Horse Regiment. He served in Egypt and later with the 10th Field Artillery Brigade in France where he was awarded the Military Medal for ‘conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty’ in August 1918.
Albert (22) and Marmion (20) both enlisted at Armidale in January 1916 and served with the 33rd Battalion. Albert was Killed in Action during the Battle of Messines in 1917 and buried at Bethlehem Farm West Cemetery, Messines, Belgium. Marmion served on the Western Front and returned home in May 1919. He lived at Tingha and served with the CMF during WWII.
James (33) enlisted in February 1916 and was also a member of the 33rd Battalion. The Tingha Advocate newspaper 9 November 1917, described him as 'the idol of the football field'. He was Killed in Action at Passchendale in October 1917 and has no known grave. His name is inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium. The names of the Hay brothers are recorded on the Tingha Honour Roll.
After the War, Lewis returned to Tingha to live and continued to play with the Tingha Rugby team.
Photo: L to R: Marmion with his uncles Jim and Albert Hay. Private Collection