Captain George Fraser Kerr VC, MC, MM was a chemist born in Deseronto, Ontario on June 8, 1894, son of John J. Kerr. In September 1914, shortly after the First World War began and with no previous military experience, he enlisted as a private soldier in the 3rd Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. Commissioned as an officer on July 1, 1917, Kerr was twice wounded in action, and received the Military Medal and the Military Cross and Bar.
Military Medal Citation
“After his platoon officer had been wounded and the Sgt killed, he led the platoon with skill and bravery to the final objective established a bombing post, and held it throughout the day. His courage and ability were very noticeable during the action on MOUNT SORRELON, 13th June 1916.” AFW 3121
Military Cross Citation
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When leading his platoon to the jumping off line he found a gap. which he filled, putting an enemy machine gun nest out of action, killing about thirty and capturing a battery of 77 mm guns. At the jumping off line he found one company had not arrived, so he led his platoon into its place, with the advancing waves. He was then wounded, but continued to the final objective, clearing out another machine gun nest of two guns on the way. The next two days he continued in the line doing splendid work, and refusing to leave owing to shortage of officers.” London Gazette 31109 – 2.12.1918
Bar to the Military Cross Citation
“For conspicuous gallantry, initiative and skill during the Drocourt-Queant attach on the 2nd and 3rd September, 1918, when he led his company forward with great dash. Later he led two platoons to the assistance of one of the attacking companies, which was held up by heavy machine gun fire, surprising the hostile machine gun crews, and personally accounting for several of the enemy. His splendid courage afforded a most inspiring example at a critical time.” London Gazette 31158 – 1-1-19
On 27 September 1918 at Bourlon Wood, France, 23 year-old Kerr performed an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace in May, 1919.
Victoria Cross Citation
For most conspicuous bravery and leadership during the BOURLON WOOD operations on 27th Sept. 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. Lieutenant 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.” London Gazette 31109 – 6.1.19
He was later promoted to Captain and eventually discharged as medically unfit on July 16, 1919 having been wounded several times and injured in an accident in which he fell from his horse while stationed in Germany after hostilities had ceased.
He died aged 35 in Toronto on December 8, 1929 of carbon monoxide poisoning and is buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Canada (plot 14, section 36. Lot 6 – E 1/2). His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada.
You can view his complete service record online.