Monday, 6 February 2012
Deseronto - Capt. George Fraser Kerr V.C.
Location: N 44° 11.465 W 077° 03.415
In Centennial Park on the waterfront on Main Street
An Ontario Historical Plaque marks this spot. Text reads:
"Born at Deseronto, Kerr attended schools here and in Toronto. With the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted on September 22, 1914 with the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force and arrived in France the following February. He won the Military Medal at Mount Sorrel on June 13, 1916, the Military Cross at Amiens on August 18, 1918, and a Bar to the latter award at Queant later that summer. The Victoria Cross, the British Empires highest decoration for valour, was awarded to Kerr for his exemplary daring and leadership at Bourlon Wood on September 27, 1918. He outflanked a machine-gun position and later, far in advance of his troops, he rushed a strong point and, single handed, captured four machine-guns and thirty-one prisoners."
George Fraser Kerr was born in Deseronto, Ontario, on June 8, 1894. He attended Galt Collegiate, and enlisted as a private with the 3rd Battalion, The Toronto Regiment, on September 22, 1914, arriving in France the following February.
Now a corporal, Kerr was awarded the Military Medal for his actions at Mont Sorrel on June 13, 1916. After some time in hospital in England recovering from battle wounds, Kerr was appointed a Lieutenant and returned to his unit in July 1917. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions during the Battle of Amiens on August 18, 1918, and then a Bar to his Military Cross during the Battle of the Drocourt-Quéant Line later that summer, this while recuperating from previous wounds.
By all accounts, Kerr should have been in sick bay on September 27, 1918, nursing an injured arm, and not involved in the operations at Bourlon Wood. However, when his regiment was called to an attack, Kerr was there, leading his company into battle, when he encountered a German machine-gun nest blocking the advance.
Kerr later rose to the rank of captain. After the war ended, he returned home and went into business in Toronto, all the while continuing with his service in the Militia.
George Fraser Kerr died in a freak accident December 8, 1929, when he was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes while starting his car in his garage. He is buried at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto, Ontario. His Victoria Cross and his other medals are on display at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa
His Victoria Cross Citation reads:
"For most conspicuous bravery and leadership during the Bourlon Wood operations on 27th September, 1918, when in command of the left support company in attack.
"He handled his company with great skill, and gave timely support by outflanking a machine-gun which was impeding the advance.
"Later, near the Arras-Cambrai Road, the advance was again held up by a strong point. Lt. Kerr, far in advance of his company, rushed this strong point single-handed and captured four machine-guns and thirty-one prisoners.
"His valour throughout this engagement was an inspiring example to all." - Victoria Cross citation, The London Gazette, January 6, 1919