PRIVATE OLIVER RUMBLE HAY HAY
13TH MARCH 1918 AGE 21
BURIED: OUTTERSTEENE COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, BAILLEUL, FRANCE
9th Battalion Australian Infantry War Diary
Enemy commenced a heavy gas shell bombardment at about 4 pm which lasted approximately four hours. Area shelled was mainly the reserve line in the vicinity of Battalion H.Q. and 'D' Company.
As a result of yesterday's bombardment the following officers  in addition to about 150 other ranks were evacuated gassed."
The next day, Private Hay was admitted to a Casualty Clearing Station suffering from mustard gas poisoning. He died on the 13th.
The Hays received the news that their son had been wounded on the 18 March, five days after his death. Ten days later, on 27 March, a notice appeared in their local newspaper, the Townsville Daily Bulletin, saying:
"Mr W Hay, Prairie, who for many years was a very prominent member of the Salvation Army in Charter Towers has received the distressing news of the death in France of his son, Oliver, Rumble Hay, who was killed by gas shells on March 13th."
The effects of mustard gas take some time to develop. First, several hours after exposure, a mild skin irritation appears. Eventually the affected areas turn yellow and agonising blisters develop. The eyes become red, sore and runny and extreme pain and sometimes blindness can follow. These symptoms can be accompanied by nasal congestion, sinus pain, hoarseness, coughing and in extreme cases respiratory failure. Hay was an extreme case. He took seven days to die but not before he had sent his mother a proud message - 'I died at my post'.
Hay, a drover, who had been born in Charter Towers, enlisted on 29 June 1916. He embarked from Brisbane on 21 October 1916 and arrived in England on 10 January 1917. He spent a month in hospital with mumps and then joined the 9th Battalion in France on 3 May 1917.