9th Royal Highlanders (Black Watch), 20 September 1917
Synopsis of Life and Military Service
Thomas Kerr was born on the 30th August 1888 at 5 Market Street, Perth to Thomas Kerr, a Soda Water Bottler and Ann Shepherd or Kerr. Thomas was the middle child of three sisters and one brother (see below). He was around 5 years old when his father died in 1893.
One of his initial Schools was the Caledonian Road School, Alexandra Street, Perth where he attended along with his brother William. On 22 November 1900, along with his brother, they were admitted to Central School, Perth.
In the 1901 Census, he is shown as a pupil and residing at 31 Thimble Row, Perth with his mother and siblings.
In the 1911 Census, he is shown as a Dye Worker and residing at 92 Reform Place, Perth, again with his mother and siblings. And just prior to his enlistment is shown as working for P & P Campbell, Dye Works, Perth.
On the 28th April 1911, at St.Pauls Church, Perth, Thomas married Margaret Miller Bell, a Twine Polisher of 95 High Street, Perth
Very little is known about his military service as his Military Record was destroyed, but it is known that following his training he served within the 9th Battalion of The Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) as Private 16592 and he would have transferred to France and Flanders sometime between the start of 1916 and his death. These dates are known due to the awarding of his Service medals.
It would appear that on on the 20th September 1917, Thomas was part of a working party on the front line when he was killed along with another soldier and three others wounded. The battalion at the time were in a relatively quiet period with two companies at a time relieving each other, while the other two companies rested and trained at Stirling Camp which is believed to have been at St. Laurent-Blangy, Pas de Calais, France.
He is buried and honoured at Level Crossing Cemetery, Fampoux, Pas de Calais, France.
His wife Margaret is shown as being the recipient of his pension and money due as specified in his Pension Card and The Register of Soldiers Effects.
War Diary of the 9th Royal Highlander (Black Watch) – 20th September 1917
The War Diary of the 9th Battalion Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) for the 20th September 1917 shows a relatively quiet day while in the Front Line. It’s recorded as follows:-
“2 O.R. (Other Ranks) killed & 3 O.R. wounded on working party in front line.
(Editors note – It would appear that Thomas was one of these soldiers killed and the only other member of the 9th killed that day and buried at Level Crossing Cemetery was Private, 267954, John Anderson whose parents were Alexander and Isabella Anderson, of Clunybeg Cottage, Dufftown, Banffshire, the cause of death given was a shell explosion, so it can be assumed that Thomas was killed by the same means.).
Thomas Kerr was born on the 30th August 1888 at 5 Market Street, Perth. The following family information is taken from various sources.
It is shown as follows :-
- Wife: Margaret Miller Bell or Kerr, born c.1889
- Son: Thomas Shepherd Kerr, born 30 January 1912.
- Son: Alexander Forbes Bell Kerr, born 27 August 1913.
- Father: Thomas Kerr, born c.1857 at Ireland. (d.1893)
- Mother: Ann Shepherd or Kerr, born 12 March 1860 at Airdrie. (d.1916).
- Sister: Mary, born 21 November 1886 at 31 Greenvale St., Glasgow. (d.1973)
- Sister: Ann Jane, born 21 November 1886 at 31 Greenvale St., Glasgow. (d.1961)
- Brother: William, born 1 January 1890 at 5 Market Street, Perth. (d.1934)
- Sister: Catherine, born 14 April 1893 at 34 Thimble Row, Perth. (d.1974)
A lengthy news article in the Perthshire Advertiser dated 6 March 1918 of a recent Civil Court Case shows there was a dispute over an insurance policy following the death of Thomas over the sum of £20. The pursuer in the case was Thomas’s wife Margaret and the defendant was his sister Mary Jane Kerr or Carle.
The circumstances being that Thomas’s mother Ann had an insurance policy through the Liver Company for Thomas to pay for any funeral expenses should he die before her. On his mothers death, three years before Thomas, the payment for the policy was taken over by his sister Ann Jane Kerr or Carle. When Thomas was home on leave, early in 1917, he signed documentation to the effect that his sister was to receive any outstanding monies from this policy.
Following his death, his sister Jane claimed the outstanding £20 from the policy on 22 November 1917. When this came to light, Margaret felt understandably aggrieved as she had two children to look after and less money coming into the household other than the War Pension and her earnings. That said, the findings of the court were that Ann was fully justified in keeping the money as it was classed as money to pay for any funeral and not part of his estate.
The following addresses have been ascertained for Thomas Kerr :-
- 1888 – 5 Market Street, Perth. (Born)
- 1891 – 5 Market Street, Perth. (Census)
- 1901 – 31 Thimble Row, Perth. (Census)
- 1911 – 92 Reform Place, Perth. (Census)
- 1917 – 95 High Street, Perth.
Thomas Kerr was awarded the Victory and the British War Medals for his service in the Great War.
Thomas Kerr is honoured and remembered on the City and County of Perth, Roll of Honour, within St. John’s Kirk, St. John’s Place, Perth.
Links to Additional Information
- Find a Grave website – Thomas Kerr – Level Crossing Cemetery
- A Street Near You website – Thomas Kerr
- Lives of the First World War – Thomas Kerr
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Thomas Kerr
- Imperial War Museum Memorials – City and County of Perth Roll of Honour
- P & P Campbell, Dye Works, Perth
- Medal Index Card.
- Pension Card.
- Register of Soldiers Effects.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
- Find a Grave.
- 1891 Census.
- 1901 Census.
- 1911 Census.
- Perthshire Advertiser dated 6 October 1917.
- Perthshire Advertiser dated 6 March 1918.
- Medal Roll – Royal Highlanders – British War Medal and Victory Medal.
- Pension Card.
- Perthshire Schools Register of Admissions and Withdrawals.
- Final Will and Testament.
- Perthshire Register of Births.
- Statutory Register of Marriages.
- Family Knowledge.
- Family Tree.
- Soldiers Died in the Great War.
- No Groups Allocated.
- Vincent Stuart.
- Jackie Kerr
- Bryan Murray