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Stories from John Henderson
Private James A. Kerr, DCM - The Sequel


A Sequel to the Report by his Grand Nephew

John Henderson

On the World War I Service

of

Private James Anderson Kerr, DCM (1895 -1917)

15075, 9th Bn., Royal Fusiliers

Born on 24th September 1895

Old Polmaise, Bannockburn, Stirling, Scotland
 
 Killed in Action on
30 November 1917

Battle of Cambrai, Northern France

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Remembered with honour at
CAMBRAI MEMORIAL, LOUVERVAL, FRANCE

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A few months after I first reported my discoveries concerning my Grand Uncle, James Anderson KERR on the ‘Electric Scotland’ web site, two second cousins of mine currently resident in Toronto, Canada, and Grand Nieces of James, found me, as a previously unknown blood relative, during their first visit to the genealogical web site ‘Genes Reunited’.

          In some of our subsequent ‘catch-up’ conversations, mention was made, not only about James’ fate, but also two family stories told to the girls by their Grandmother, one of James’ seven sisters, Barbara ‘Cissie’ Kerr. The first was about James running away from home in Stirling to London, aged about eighteen in 1914, and there joining the Royal Fusiliers. The second was about James’ mother, Janet (Richardson) Kerr (1855-1925), originally from Hightae, Lochmaben, Dumfries, Scotland, having her case packed ready to go from Stirling to France .... from the date of her receipt of the news that her son was missing in action …. until the day she died in 1925. Then I told my Canadian cousins about the campaign medals awarded as documented on James’ Medals’ Card in the National Archives. But none of us at that point were able to say who in the wider family may have inherited his medals and accompanying ribbons.

          About two weeks after these initial transatlantic e-mailings, while presenting a memorial booklet about James to my son Kerr Henderson, he astonished me by saying that he had inherited (unbeknown to me) a bar of ribbons from James’ niece in Stirling, my spinster Aunt Janet ‘Neta’ Richardson Nicoll Henderson (1910-1982). ‘Dad, he said, ‘I have no idea what they are, or who they belonged to, but did my Grand Aunt Neta not often say in her old age, ‘When I was a wee girl, I lost the only young man that I really ever loved’. I agreed that what he said was true, and then simultaneously we exclaimed, ‘I wonder if that bar of ribbons was first inherited by Aunt Neta from her Grandmother Janet Richardson Kerr!’

          So, at the first opportunity, Kerr raked around his loft and unearthed the little gold tin that he knew contained the bar of ribbons in question. I used my digital camera to photograph them and then returned them to the safety of the box and the attic. As soon as possible I then went online to Chris Baker’s informative site at www.1914-1918.net  and was able to confirm not only the identity of the campaign ribbons, but also the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal ribbon …. all as portrayed below:-

Unfortunately, the location of the actual medals remains a mystery.

 

Janet Kerr's Lonely Vigil


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