The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Vivian Albert
Nick Name:
Warrant Officer II (Promoted on 7.2.1942)
Regimental #:
'E' Company Headquarters, Special Reserve Battalion
Place of Birth:
Glenshee, Scotland
Father's Name:
John Alexander Keay
Mothers's Name:
Christine Keay (nee Loder)
Pre-war Occupation:
Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 18, Age 39.
Selarang Camp Changi, A.G.H.Roberts Barracks, Changi (dengue fever)
'B' Force Borneo
Cause of Death:
Place of Death:
Sandakan No1 Camp
Date of Death:

General Description

Keay enlisted AIF 18 Oct 1940.  Unfortunately we have no record of which Company he joined.  However when ‘E’ Company was formed with the reinforcements, Keay was transferred  to ‘E’ Company Headquarters as Staff Sergeant to Commanding Officer Lt. Warhurst as RQMS – Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant.
He was mentioned in Les Cody’s ‘Ghosts in Khaki’
30th January 1942
‘We got our ear plugs today! Not officially:
For efficient official administrative staff work – substitute opportunism and Barney Doolan.  Nobody in the Battalion had a greater capacity for reorganising an opportunity and exploiting it to the full than Barney, our legendary Pioneer Sergeant.
..….Sitting outside the camp gates in the early evening with Viv Keay, passing the time of day with locals, they got into a conversation with a couple of British civilians employed at the Naval Base.  As they were trying to digest another bully beef meal, it was inevitable that the conversation centred around food and resulted in an invitation to a meal at the naval Base the next eveningWhen the civilian let drop that the stores he was controlling included ordnance spares, Barney zeroed in ………… ‘clearing plugs for machine guns?’

‘Yes, plenty replied the civvy’

…………An appointment for the next morning was arranged.  By Lunch time Barney had been, seen and appropriated enough clearing plugs for the Battalion, plus a load of other had to get equipment.  The Battalion was now ready for action, whatever form it would take.’
Barney Doolan survived to return home.



Vivian Keay’s parents Scottish born John Alexander Keay and Christina Loder married Nov 1895 Middlesex England.  The couple returned to John’s home in Scotland where they had a family of 9 children – one daughter and eight sons.
The Keay family  moved to WA from England in about 1911, when Viv was about 6 years old.  They settled in Katanning.  Vivian’s name is mentioned in early school years.
He later left Katanning and sought work in Perth.  In 1928 he is residing in North Perth and working as a clerk.
Viv has an active interest and was a talented ballroom dancer.


In 1929 his mother died whilst his father was away visiting Scotland.



In 1931 Viv and Kathleen Goodman announce their engagement.
The couple marry in 1938.



An older brother Kenneth Keay who is married with at least one child dies quite young in 1940.


Below:  Viv’s father John died 1942 in Scotland, at that time Viv is reported missing.





Keay only





Keay V A


KEAY, Warrant Officer Class II, VIVIAN ALBERT, WX8431, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 10 May 1945. Age 39. Son of John and Christine Keay; husband of Kathleen Ellen Keay, of Highgate, Western Australia. Panel 18.
Labuan Memorial,
Keay was one of the fortunate men of ‘E’ Company to survive the Japanese ambush at South West Bukit Timah on 11 February 1942.  He had been earlier transferred from another Company to form ‘E’ Coy which was formed with mostly little trained reinforcements picked up at Fremantle mid January.  The ambush resulted in too many deaths including many experienced officers.
Fate dealt him an unfair blow when he was selected at Singapore with ‘B’ Force to work in Borneo.  He died at Sandakan No. 1 Camp of malaria on 10 May 1945 aged 39 years.  His remains were located at Sandakan No.2 Camp.
Please read further about ‘E’ Company SRB
Please read further about B and E Forces Borneo.
Also please see Map of Sandakan-Ranau and photos of all West Australians who perished.

Kathleen Keay remarried about 1947.

Camp Locations:

  • Roberts Barracks Changi - Singapore
  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
  • Sandakan - Borneo ***