Sunday, 15 March 2015

Andrew Yuill Kerr 1892-1959 Military Medal (Kerr Boys cont)

Born in 1892, Andrew was unmarried and living with his parents James Francis Kerr and Agnes Kerr in the 1911 census. He worked as a chauffeur for his cab proprietor father. A little over 3 years later he enlisted at Grove Park in the Army Services Corps (ASC) on 8 December 1914 aged 22. 

Thus continues the story of the Kerr men going to war. Andrew was the second youngest of the five sons James Francis lent to the war effort. 

"He would return a hero."

Like his brothers, he was singled out for service in the British Expeditionary Force for his ability as a motor car driver. In under a month he had embarked on the SS  Munston at Avonmouth on New Year's Eve 1914, arriving at Le Havre, North Western France on 4 January 1915. In France he was initially posted to the 1st District Field Ambulance operating in the Frontline.

From 24/8/15 he was appointed to the 141st Field Ambulance and was responsible for casualties. The Field Ambulance were mobile units responsible for movement of casualties and operated to provide treatment for wounds or sickness from no man’s land to dressing stations and later hospitals.  Basically there were stretcher bearers relaying casualties for miles to a station where the injured soldier could have wounds tended to. For example there were Bearer Relay posts, Regimental Aid Posts, Advanced Dressing Stations and Main Dressing Stations. 

Andrew’s service number M2/ 021524 denotes he was a driver of a Motor Ambulance evacuating wounded.  The official April War diary of the 141 Field Ambulance now kept at the National archives, London England (reference WO95/1259) gives information about Andrew's activities at the hospital at Gwalia farm in April 1918 around the time of great casualties. I have a full digital copy of this Diary if you care to contact me. Basically the Field ambulance moved with the Army according to its position in the Front. The Field Ambulance either commandeered farms and farmhouse buildings or set up in marquees along the French countryside as needed.
"gallantry and devotion to duty in action." 

On 6 April 1918 Andrew and some others rejoined the unit from a temporary duty with Number One Field Ambulance. His location was Gwalia Farm which was a Main Dressing Station. His unit moved to Chocques. On 9 April however there was a spike of 251 wounded and another 26 the next day. Wounded dropped until 18 April when it is recorded there were 23 sick and a staggering 493 wounded.  Large numbers of wounded ranging between 21 and 155 each day continued to pass through the unit until the end of the month. It was during this time on 22 April 1918 that the Corps Commander awarded the Military Medal to Private J.L. Wilson and Private A.Y.  Kerr for “gallantry and devotion to duty in action. “  His record also mentions  the award of Good conduct medals.
Below is the acknowledgement  for the Military Medal forwarded to Andrew after his return  to Scotland in June 1920. The medal was granted for Bravery in the Field.

Acknowledgement of receipt of the medal
When the war finished it looks as though he was caught up in the slow process of demobilization.  At demobilization he was  in Bonn, Germany. His papers show that he was demobilised on 25 May 1919 and we can see from this form that because Andrew is moving to a Class ‘Z’ Reserve status, he would be obliged to return to the Army if called. This fitness status seems to confirm that he was not injured during the war. 

Part of the demobilization paperwork
Returning to Denistoun in Glasgow, his war records signed by the Lt Col of the 141st of Field Ambulance described him as "exceedingly good motor driver". Upon his return he resumed work as a chauffeur and married Mary Brian Johnstone on the 24th November 1920. Mary was the sister of Hannah Johnstone who had married Andrew's older brother David in 1904. Two brothers married two sisters.

Andrew and Mary adopted a child, Anthony Kerr in 1927 and he in turn gave them a granddaughter Catherine Kerr. Andrew continued to drive taxis and died aged 67 in 1959 of Sigmoid colon cancer. Mary outlived him.


Andrew's Military Medal
The Military Medal was given to David’s daughter and Mary's namesake, Mary Bryan Kerr. Mary or May as she was known in turn passed it to her grandson, Kelly Jorgensen who was a Lieutenant  in the New Zealand Army. “He regularly wears the medal to commemorative services”. The inscription around the medal is M2-021524 PTE A.Y.Kerr- MTASC.

I’m really proud to have written these two blogs about the Kerr sons and their part in the World War I. Coming from poor Scottish backgrounds these hard working brothers put their hands up, used their skills with horses and vehicles and took off in the early days of the war and saw it through until the end or until they were too ill or injured to continue.

When I started my family history research I was a little disappointed not to have an ANZAC amongst the relatives.  My husband’s grandfather had been in Gallipoli after the famous ANZAC tragedy fighting with the British. As we enter the 100 year anniversary period we see that it was the Western Front and other parts which  were also crucial to the War effort. Many relatives from the British Isles and indeed Australia paid with their lives and others their health. Luckily some returned, lead good lives and even signed up again for WW2 or encouraged their children to do so.

Keep reading the blog dear friends.  I’ve still got more War stories of relatives and a few friends have been “conscripted” to write their own family hero story as guest bloggers.

If you want any documents relating to these people please contact me on Robyn's email as the comments section doesn’t seem to work unless you are on google+  You can share the blog with friends and relatives or keep up  with new stories by “following” the blog. 

Cheers Robyn

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