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Serjeant 17849, 15th Battalion Royal Scots.

Killed in action 1st July 1916, age approx. 24.

Remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

Former student of mechanical engineering.


 

William was born in 1892, the son of William Kerr and Mary Capstick. His father was a drapper living near Deansgate, Manchester. In 1911-12 he was enrolled at The Tech on 1st Year Mechanical Engineering whilst employed as a draughtsman at Isaac Storey and Sons (Engineers), Empress Foundry, Cornbrook. In 1914 he was living in the family home in Chorlton, Manchester.

William enlisted in September 1914 with his younger brother Charles in one of Kitchener’s new Pals Battalions, the 15th (Manchester Scottish) Battalion, Royal Scots. The Manchester Scottish arrived on the western front in January 1916 as part of the 34th (New Army) Division and went into the trenches at Armentieres, Belgium before being withdrawn to train for the planned major offensive on the River Somme. On 1st July 1916 the Manchester Scottish took part in the opening phase of the Battle of the Somme attacking the ruined village of La Boiselle. The battalion went over the top and despite being suffering heavy casualties from machine gun and artillery fire a few survivors reached and took their objective. Dangerously dangerously isolated they held on throughout the next two days until relieved on 3rd July, by which time they had suffered 628 casualties, and less than 87 men marched out. Amongst the casualties where William now a Serjeant, and his younger brother Charles, both posted missing in action. Their bodies were never recovered.