Soldier Spotlight: Private John “Chip” Kerr

Image: Newspaper clipping about Chip’s Victoria Cross in the 1 November 1916 Grande Prairie Herald

Regimental Number: 101465
Rank: Private
Branch: 49th Battalion

Chip was born in Fox River, Nova Scotia on January 11, 1887. He came to Spirit River in 1912 and filed on homesteads at 27-78-6-W6 and 7-79-6-W6; his brother Charles filed on a neighboring quarter. Both brothers enlisted in the Canadian army in the autumn of 1915. On September 16, 1916, Chip was awarded the Victoria Cross by George V for his actions at Courcelette. His citation notes that “Kerr and small group of men charged enemy trench after prolonged grenade exchange. Captured 62 enemy soldiers.” According to the London Gazette (October 26, 1916):

“For most conspicuous bravery. During a bombing attack he was acting as bayonet man, and, knowing that bombs were running short, he ran along the parados under heavy fire until he was in close contact with the enemy, when he opened fire on them at point-blank range, and inflicted heavy loss. The enemy, thinking they were surrounded, surrendered. Sixty-two prisoners were taken and 250 yards of enemy trench captured. Before carrying out this very plucky act one of Private Kerr’s fingers had been blown off by a bomb. Later, with two other men, he escorted back the prisoners under fire, and then returned to report himself for duty before having his wound dressed.”

Chip married Gertrude Clarissa Bridger in London in 1917. In April of 1918, he was discharged, having been found medically unfit because of a deformity of his left foot and right hand (the deformity of his hand would have been the injury he sustained at Courcelette). Chip and Gertrude returned to Spirit River in April of 1918 and raised five children. In World War II, Chip served with the RCAF. He moved to British Columbia after World War II and died in Port Moody on February 19, 1963.

Sources: Chepi Sepe p. 559; Pioneers of the Peace p. 244

Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.