838605 Pte. Robert Charles Kerr was born on April 15th, 1886, in the Province of Quebec. A Baptist Minister, Robert found himself living in Flesherton, where he was a member of the Prince Arthur Masonic Lodge No. 333, when he decided to turn his collar in for a rifle, attesting to the 147th Battalion on January 17th, 1916.

Assigned to "C" Company, under the command of Captain John Milton Dobie, Robert would have been billeted locally over the winter, until the unit left for training at Camp Niagara in the spring of 1916. As the conditions in the Camp were wanting the unit moved to the new training facility of Camp Borden in late June. In September the unit received their orders to proceed overseas, but they were detained in Amherst Nova, Scotia, for over a month when a number of soldiers contracted diphtheria. The unit finally sailed for Great Britain, on November 14th 1916.

On January 1st, 1917, the 147th Battalion ceased to exist when it became the nucleus for the 8th Reserve Battalion, whose task it was to supply reinforcements to the 58th Battalion and the 4th C.M.R. Robert was taken on strength of the 4th C.M.R. on October 19th, 1917.

Serving with the unit through the winter of 1917, Robert was manning the front line trenches near Mericourt when he was lost in action on March 14th, 1918, "killed by trench mortar fire", which also killed 839115 Pte. William "Jack" Sharp, 802179 Pte. George Rennie and 135326 Sgt. Roderick Mackenzie.

838605 Private Robert Charles Kerr and his three compatriots were laid to rest in the Thelus Military Cemetery, France, on March 17th, 1918. The joint military honours burial ceremony was attended by Major McFarland, the ex-commanding officer of the 147th Battalion and platoons of the 4th and 5th CMRs (the latter having lost Major Thomas Sneath the same day in a separate incident).

Today Robert's service is also remembered locally on the Flesherton Cenotaph, Ontario.

Biography credit: George Auer, with thanks.