Percy Lay was born in Ballan on 8 February 1892. During the First World War he enlisted in the A.I.F. and served in both Gallipoli and France. Lay had a particularly distinguished military career which saw him rise from Corporal to Major.
In Pozieres in August 1916 Lay was nominated for the Victoria Cross for his performance under heavy fire. He did not receive this medal but did get the Croix de Guerre. In May 1917 Lay was awarded the Military Medal and in September 1917 he received the Distinguished Service Order for his performance at the Battle of Polygon Wood, Ypres. Lay’s behaviour in battle was so impressive that he was often regarded as the bravest man in the Australian army.
After the end of the war Lay moved to Alphington where he purchased Lucerne Farm. Lucerne farm dated back to 1840 and was one of the oldest farms in the area. Lay was to remain in Alphington almost until his death in 1955, only leaving it when ill health forced him to move to the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital. Lucerne farm did not long survive Lay, as it was sold in 1949 to the Latrobe Golf Club, the house being demolished in 1960.
Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1851 – 1890. pub. 1969