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William Kerr


Larbert

8088 L/Cpl

‘B’ Company, 10th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, 97th Infantry Brigade, 32nd Division

Age: 22

Date of Death: 8.3.18

Buried: Canada Farm Cemetery III.H.40

Family history: Son of William and Georgina Kerr, North Broomage Crescent, Larbert. Georgina was his stepmother. Before he enlisted on 22 February 1915 he was employed as an apprentice moulder by Jones and Campbell of Larbert. He had two brothers also serving Lance Corporal James Kerr, Argyll’s, and Private Daniel Kerr, Royal Scots who had been wounded three times.

Military Service

William joined the 3rd Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and embarked to France on 12 October 1915 and joined the 10th Battalion in the field on 21 October 1915. On the 26 December 1915 he transferred to 27th Company, Machine Gun Corps.


He was wounded on 5 May 1917 with a gun shot wound to the left shoulder and admitted to 24 Casualty Clearing Station. From here he went down the line to the 18th General Hospital at Etaples. After recovering from this wound he rejoined the Battalion in the field on 15 June 1917.


On 14 July 1917 he was given 14 days Field Punishment No.1 for being drunk on the line of march. He also had previous disciplinary problems.


On the 1 September 1917, he was wounded in the thigh and abdomen and admitted to 21 Casualty Clearing Station being transferred on the 4 September to 12 General Hospital at Rouen. He was then transferred to the Scottish General Hospital in Aberdeen and was here from 19 September 1917 to 21 October 1917 when he was discharged and enjoyed a period of leave from 21 October to 31 October 1917 at home with his family. He spent a further period of nine days in hospital as a result of his abdominal wound at Grantham when he returned to the Machine Gun Corps.


It is interesting that the army would appear to have lost track of him as correspondence shows that the officer in charge of the Argyll’s had written to the officer in charge of the 27th Company Machine Gun Corps requesting information about his transfer. The 27th Machine Gun Corps had posted him as a deserter. A Court of Enquiry was held on 18 December 1917 into his absence with out leave from 19 November 1917 and to his missing equipment. The desertion case was cancelled when William appeared in the 3rd Battalion Argyll’s.


Memo's concerning Williams whereabouts







On the 19 November 1917 he was transferred to the 3rd Battalion Argyll’s and on 7 January 1918 went back to France as a Private with the Argyll’s. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on the 23 February 1918.


The action leading to his death

(Linesman Map showing Outpost Positions defended by the Argyll's)


The Battalion was in the line in the north sector of the Salient at Houthulst Forest. The War Diary recorded that ‘… B,A,D Company’s in the outpost line and ‘C’ Company was in support’ At 3.55am the Germans launched a series of attacks on the outposts. Lieutenant Wallace of ’D’ Company attempted to fire the SOS for artillery support however, the flare failed to explode. They decided to mount a fighting withdrawal to the Veldhoek Post with 56 casualties they also gained touch with the Dorsets on their left. At 9.20am some 200 Germans were seen massing and moving with their light machine guns in Owl Wood. At this time 2nd Battalion KOYLI counterattacked and retook the Posts lost earlier despite German machine gun and sniping fire. With the recapture of the lost Posts a number of the enemy wounded were taken and the War Diary recorded their fate:


At Owls Wood about 200 Germans massed for an attack they were dispersed by fire from the forward Posts and from artillery support. During the morning the Germans shelled the main line posts and especially Mangelare Post and it was here that Captain Knowling M.C. was killed. After dark ‘C’ Company took over the line from 2nd Battalion KOYLI.

There are eight men from the Battalion buried in Row H at Canada Farm Cemetery who died of their wounds on 8 March 1918, William being one of them.

Medals Awarded

1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal


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