KERR, John Chipman

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Photo by Brad Armstrong

John Chipman Kerr VC (January 11, 1887, Fox River, Nova Scotia - February 19, 1963), was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
In 1912, after working as a lumberjack near Kootenay, B.C. he bought a homestead in Spirit River, Alberta, where he and his brother farmed until war broke out. Immediately they set out for Edmonton, leaving only a single note tacked to the door of their humble shed. It read: "War is Hell, but what is homesteading?"

He was 29 years old, and a private in the 49th (Edmonton) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 16 September 1916 at Courcelette, France, during a bombing attack, Private Kerr was acting as bayonet man and noting 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 at point-blank range, inflicting heavy losses. The enemy, thinking that they were surrounded, surrendered - 62 prisoners were taken and 250 yards of enemy trench captured. Earlier, Private Kerr's fingers had been blown off, but he did not have his wound dressed until he and two other men had escorted the prisoners back under fire and reported for duty.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Canadian War Museum (Ottawa, Canada).

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