Bridge of Weir

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S/6523 Corporal William Smart Kerr

1st/7th Battalion, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)

poisoned by gas 29th August 1918

aged 23

Ligny - St Flochel British Cemetery, Averdoingt

Postman, Bridge of Weir
Son of William Kerr and Alice Wood

His Life

William Smart Kerr was born on 18th May 1895 at 6 Royal Park Place, Edinburgh, the third of a family of six born to William Kerr, a journeyman joiner from Baldernock, Stirlingshire and Alice Wood, from England, who had married in Rivington, Lancaster on 12th March 1892.

In 1891, William Kerr had been working in Chorley, Lancaster and was lodging with the Gibson family.

In 1901 William (42), Alice (38), and five children including William junior (5), were living in 19 Caledonia Street, Paisley. William was a foreman joiner.

In 1911 the Kerr family was living in 1 Whitehaugh Street, Paisley. Alice was head of the household on census night, eldest son John was a student teacher, James a naval architect in a shipbuilding yard, and William junior (15) was a Post Office messenger. Although William senior was not in the family home that night, Alice is not listed as a widow. In November 1911 William is listed in the 1911 Post Office employment register as an Assistant Postman in Paisley. In June 1913 he was promoted to Postman, still attached to Paisley.

William Kerr junior became a postman in Bridge of Weir and enlisted there as a Private in the Black Watch. He first joined the theatre of war in France on 14th July 1915. The memorial and newspaper reports identify him with the 9th Battalion. His Commonwealth War Grave Certificate, and UK Soldiers Died in the Great War, both place him at the time of his death in the 1st/7th (Fife) Battalion Black Watch. The timing of his transfer from the 9th to the 1st/7th Battalion is as yet unknown. Both battalions were involved in major battles. The 9th saw its first active service at the Battle of Loos in September 1915 as part of the 15th (Scottish) Division when it was almost totally wiped out. At fighting strength a battalion had 650 to 750 men and the 9th Black Watch suffered over 700 casualties at Loos. The 8th and 9th battalions of the Black Watch were merged after the Battle of Loos. The 1st/7th Battalion formed part of the 153rd Brigade in the 51st (Highland) Division which was in the Order of Battle for the Somme offensive in 1916.

William Kerr death locationOn 24th August 1918, the 51st was supporting the British offensive north of the River Scarpe near Arras and had five successive days of fighting in which it captured the strong points at Roeux, Greenland Hill and Plouvain. The Germans used mustard gas as they retreated and William Kerr suffered severe gas poisoning.

Corporal Kerr (his promotion is confirmed on his Medal Index Card) survived over three years of action but died on 29th August 1918. He is buried in Averdoingt, some 15 miles north west of Arras. The cemetery was close to a major Casualty Clearing Station established from three others that had regrouped there after the German advance in April 1918. His death is recorded in the Regimental History of the Black Watch as 7th Battalion.


1901 Census 1911 Census Birthplace
Name Age Name Age
John8 Jno18 England
James7 Jas17 Glasgow, Lanark
William5 Wm S15 Edinburgh
Jean3 Jane S13 Edinburgh
Helen1 Helen D11 Paisley, Renfrewshire
Robt C7 Paisley, Renfrewshire


TO CITE THIS PAGE: MLA style: "Bridge of Weir Memorial". Date of viewing. http://www.bridgeofweirmemorial.co.uk/profile-kerr.html