Military Medal group to 2642 Pte R F Kerr Durh L I / Gallant Last Stand at Pontevert on 28th May 1918
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Robert Fleming Kerr was born in Hawick, Scotland in 1896. In his late teens, the family settled in Wylam in Northumberland.
A Gardener by trade he joined the 1st/9th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry in May 1913 as a territorial. He attended one summer camp at Scarborough in the summer of 1913 before being discharged on 20th May 1914.
Sadly his service papers are part of the burnt series, so all mention of the Great War is missing other than the issue slips for his medals. Kerr’s time out of uniform wasn’t to last; the 20th April 1915 saw him land in France with the DLI, transferred to the South Staffordshire Regiment.
He was subsequently transferred back the DLI with service number 325309.
It was with the 5th battalion that Kerr earned the Military Medal. The award was gazetted on 21st October 1918. The award was for the Battle of Aisne, and it’s believed that Kerr was either a Lewis Gunner or potentially a runner with B Coy
A war diary entry on the 28th of May 1918 notes ‘ Ammunition was very short” the Germans attacked that day in force, and only B Company survived with a few men managing to make it back over the River Aisne.
The casualties suffered were horrific 33 Officers and 650 Men.
A DCM was awarded to RSM Holmes for the action. His citation is as follows
‘ For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when sent back for ammunition for a party without any. He went to a dump under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire and obtained it. The horse of the limber was killed on the return to the line, but he succeeded in getting the ammunition into the trench. The conduct of this officer during the whole battle was exemplary.’
I believe Kerr was with B Company and was one of the men who made it back.
Military medal = 325309 Pte R F Kerr 5 / Durh L I
1914/15 Star = 2642 Pte R F Kerr Durh L I ( Slight spot of discolouration over ‘I’ could be cleaned off)