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Looking for Kerrs

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--April 19, 2017.

Hello,

I have been researching my Kerr family tree on Ancestry.ca and Google and this week found my Great Uncle's WW1 ID tag on an obscure French forum online.

The Sherbrooke Record also covered the story.

I am actively searching for descendants of the Kerr siblings of my Grandfather Alfred Ernest Kerr and my Great Uncle Harold Clifford Kerr.

I have one of my Great Uncle's war medals but someone out there in the family may have the other medal he was awarded and the Memorial Star my Great Grandmother was given after Harold was killed in Jun 1917 in France.

My family tree is very small - dwindling in fact. I'd love to meet family if they are still out there. Someone has uploaded Harold Clifford Kerr's war photos to the Canadian Virtual War Memorial from "an old Kerr family album". I would love to meet them.

If you could assist with mentioning something in the online magazine I would appreciate it greatly.

Thank you,

Cynthia Kerr
Australia

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Editor's note:

The following story was published in the Sherbrooke Record, April 14, 2017
By Matthew Mccully

Gunner Harold Clifford Kerr, son of Robert and Mary Kerr of Cookshire, enlisted in the Canadian military in August, 1915.

On June 26, 1917, after surviving the infamous battle of Vimy Ridge, Gunner Kerr suffered massive head wounds from an artillery shell that fell near him. He was brought to hospital, but never regained consciousness and died from his wounds later that day. He was 25-years old.

A descendent of Gunner Kerr contacted The Record this week, astounded to have located her great uncle’s dog tag, recovered along with 17 others in a French garden in a village near Vimy.

While uncovering war relics and memorabilia is not uncommon in Europe given the history, the way Cynthia Kerr happened upon the dog tag of her Island Brook relative is serendipitous, to say the least.

Kerr now lives in Australia, but was born and raised near Hamilton, Ontario. Her parents were both from the Townships.

She always had an interest in the Kerr family history, specifically because her father was named after Gunner Harold Kerr.

She is the keeper of her great uncle Kerr’s war medal, awarded posthumously, but knew his dog tag had never been sent home after his death.

“I started searching in 2011,” Kerr said, building her family tree on ancestry.ca and looking for relatives who could have more information about her father’s namesake.

She eventually, while googling ‘what does a WWI dog tag look like?’ ended up on an obscure French chat forum on The Great War.

On the site, she saw a post by a man (Username Gustave) who had found 18 WWI dog tags in clump of soil in his garden.

Among them was one, registration number 92956, belonging to Gunner Harold Clifford Kerr.‘Gustave’ had posted pictures of the 18 dog tags, as well as photos he had found.

Kerr found the post on Monday, April 10. While she was shocked and excited to have found the dog tag, considering it was the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge, she noticed that the post was published years ago, and hadn’t been active since 2011.

“WWI memorabilia is pretty hot,” Kerr said, explaining that she figured the dog tags had likely been sold.

Even so, she sent a google translated email to ‘Gustave’, who responded within hours.

Not only was he willing to return the dog tag to its rightful owner, he offered to go to the Aix Noulette cemetery to get a picture of Gunner Kerr’s tombstone.

Kerr experienced another moment of shock when ‘Gustave’ posted the picture and she saw that her great uncle’s tombstone had been freshly decorated with a picture of Gunner Kerr and a flag.

“Who’s in Vimy?” she wondered, assuming there must be other descendants of Gunner Kerr who had decorated the grave.

That mystery was later solved when another member of the chat forum took responsibility for decorating the grave as a gesture of respect after seeing the conversation between Kerr and ‘Gustave’.

Kerr pointed out, however, that there were also pictures of Gunner Kerr posted on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial, indicating there must be other relatives with an interest in the WWI soldier.

The theory is that a soldier from Kerr’s regiment was in charge of collecting the tags of fallen soldiers to eventually send home, and they were either dropped the soldier was killed.

Gunner Kerr had six siblings; Florence Mabel Kerr and Elizabeth May Kerr died in 1899-1900 during a flu pandemic in the area. Gertrude Agnes Kerr and Eva Clarissa Kerr passed away in the 1960s and 1970s, as did Alfred Ernest Kerr and Arthur Herbert Kerr (Cynthia’s grandfather).

Kerr said her great uncle’s dog tag will be repatriated within the coming weeks. She added that she is continuing the search for other Kerr relatives in the Townships, hoping to learn more about that side of her family.