- Place of Use Continent - North America, Country - Canada
- Category Communication artifacts
- Sub-category Personal symbol
- Department Arms and Technology
- Museum CWM
- Earliest 1918/01/31
- Latest 1920/12/31
- Inscription (obverse/avers): HE DIED FOR FREEDOM AND HONOUR WILLIAM JAMES KERR; E.C.P.
- Materials Bronze
- Service Component Canadian Expeditionary Force
- Unit 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion
- Person / Institution Subject, Kerr, Sergeant William James
- Measurements Thickness 0.5 cm, Outside Diameter 12.0 cm
- Caption Medals Project- Kerr, William James
William James Kerr was born in Dalmore, Ross-Shire, Scotland, on 18 September 1888. He immigrated to Canada in 1910. The same year, he married Maud Hypson, and in 1911, they welcomed their first child, a daughter also called Maud.
A carriage fitter, Kerr enlisted in the 38th Battalion in Ottawa, Ontario, on 12 April 1915. He had previous military experience, having served three years in Britain’s Highland Light Infantry. After initial training in Canada, the 38th Battalion went to Bermuda aboard SS Caledonia on 1 August 1915 for garrison duty. Nine months later, the battalion was posted to Europe. It left Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 30 May 1916 aboard SS Grampian and landed in Plymouth, England, on 9 June 1916.
Kerr was promoted to acting lance corporal the day he arrived in England. That was the first of three promotions he received in six months. By late December he was a sergeant.
Two months after arriving in England, on 13 August 1916, the 38th Battalion was sent to France. On 25 September 1916, Kerr was evacuated from the front lines suffering from complications caused by his flat feet. He returned to his unit on 2 October 1916 after receiving treatment. That was not the last time Kerr was to be evacuated from the lines. In early January 1917, he was hospitalized for two weeks suffering from trench fever.
Kerr was killed by shell fire on the morning of 18 September 1917. His Circumstances of Casualty card states that his death occurred while he was “travelling overland from a Y.M.C.A. to Support Battalion Headquarters, in Anxious Lane, east of Vimy Ridge.”
William James Kerr is buried in Villers Station Cemetery, Villers-au-Bois, France.