Lieutenant, 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade, attached 1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment.
Killed in action on Sunday 24th January 1915 Armentieres, age 24.
Buried at Chapelle-D’Armentieres Old Military Cemetery, France, grave ref. A.19.
Former student of Engineering.
The eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. E Crawford-Kehrmann of Bailey’s Hotel, London. Jay was born at Durban, South Africa in September 1886. Home tutored until the age of 14, he then spent six years in France and Germany. In 1907 he entered the University of Manchester as an engineering student. He obtained his B.Sc. with Honours in 1911.
During his time as an undergraduate Jay was a keen rugby player obtaining his First XV Colours. He later played for Sale and for Lancashire against Northumberland. In 1912 he was a regular player for the Harlequins. As a resident of Dalton Hall he played Fives (a hand ball game), Tennis, and was in the tug-of-war against Hulme Hall three years in a row. He was also keen on riding, shooting and shot-put. Jay had been active in the University’s shrovetide pantomime like celebrations when he was once seen to dress as a pipe smoking lady.
Jay was a member of the University Officer Training Corps from 1908 to 1912 obtaining a commission in the Rifle Brigade in February 1913. He was also an aviator and prior to the war had trained at Brooklands Aerodrome in the Bristol School. Unfortunately during this period he was involved in an incident that led to the first aeroplane accident case to be heard at the High Court. Two brothers, Cecil and Eric Pashley owned a Sommer biplane which they used for exhibitions and carrying passengers. On 18th January 1913 there had been a collision between Eric Pashley, who had just landed, and Lieutenant Crawford-Kehrman who was accompanied by his instructor Mr Merriam. The Pashley’s were suing the company that operated the flying school and Crawford-Kehrmann for negligence in allowing an unskilled person to be in control of a machine resulting in serious damage their aircraft. In his book Merriam recalled it to have been a narrow escape “our box-kite was almost overturned by the impact and the gauge glass nearest to Pashley’s head was knocked clean off”, but noted that no-one was hurt. Eric Pashley was in court on crutches as a result of a having been knocked down by a motor cycle. Jay was also on crutches following a football related injury. The judge, amused by this, said that the moral was that both of them were safer in the air. The jury found in favour of the plaintiffs and awarded them £123 in damages.
Despite the accident Jay’s flying training continued. A little over a week later, on the 27th January 1913, he flew his first solo and took his Aviator’s Certificate test on 17th February in a Bristol Biplane. In the first part of the test he was described as “flying exceedingly well at about 200ft” and landed close to the observers. The second part of his test was completed “in first class flying, banking very well” and for both parts he made vol plane landings (a glide with the engine off). His certificate number was 420. Slightly defective eyesight prevented him from obtaining a commission to the Royal Flying Corps.
At the beginning of 1914 Jay had gone to British East Africa as an engineer on a project at Magadi Lake. On the outbreak of war he assisted the King’s African Rifles, but his commanding officer sent for him and he eagerly responded returning home in September 1914. On the morning of 24th January 1915, attached to the South Staffordshire Regiment, he and his men were out at daybreak removing water from their trenches near Armentieres after a night of very heavy rain. An enemy searchlight located him and he was shot by a sniper. As he stumbled a second bullet hit him in the heart killing him instantly.