Topic: John Andrew Bathurst Kerr (1876-1917)

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John Andrew Bathurst Kerr served with the Camel Corps during World War I. He was killed in action at Sheikh Abbas Ridge on 19 April 1917 during the Second Battle of Gaza. John is remembered on he Gate Pā World War I memorial in Tauranga which lists nine soldiers from Gate Pā who lost their lives in World War I. Story and photographs by Debbie McCauley.

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John Andrew Bathurst Kerr was born in Marston Sicca, Gloucestershire, England. He was baptised privately on 1 January 1876 which is also likely his date of birth. The baptism was registered in the Marston Sicca parish on 1 May 1876 (No. 662). His parents were Howard and Mary Kerr (nee Kerr) who married in Marston Sicca on 1 June 1869. Howard was a Captain in the Royal Navy.

Mary's parents were William Frederic Kerr (1806-1878), a Rector from Marston Sicca, and Agnes Sophia Kerr (nee Morris) (1810-1895), who married on 17 June 1834. When Howard and Mary moved the family to New Zealand in 1884 after he retired from active service, Agnes accompanied them and was buried in Tauranga Anglican Cemetery upon her death in 1895. Also buried in Tauranga Anglican Cemetery is John's older sister, Julia Frances Kerr, who died on 10 March 1895 at the age of 22.

The family lived at Gate Pa in Tauranga. Howard and Mary spent the rest of their lives in Tauranga.

John attended Nelson College from 1893 to 1894.

Some of the Kerr family moved to Australia where John found work as a rubber planter.

John enlisted to fight during World War I at Victoria Barracks on 7 January 1916. At the time he was living at 4 Mudgong Street in Mosman, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. His next of kin was given as his sister, Harriet Anne Cecilia Ralph (nee Kerr), of 18 Minstrel Avenue in Mosman.

Trooper John Kerr (Service No. 2818) was with the 1st Anzac Battalion. His unit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board the RMS Mongolia on 8 July 1916.

On 7 September 1916 John transferred to the No. 2 Company of the No. 3 Section of the Imperial Camel Corps.

The Second Battle of Gaza was fought between 17 and 19 April 1917. John was killed in action at Sheikh Abbas Ridge on 19 April 1917 during this battleThe Camel Corps had made a raid on the Sheikh Abbas Redoubt. An eyewitness reported that John sustained a bullet wound and whilst returning to camp was killed by a shell. He is said to have been buried the following morning where he died. John was aged 41.

John Andrew Bathurst Kerr (1879-1917)

John's brother James was still living in Tauranga at the time of John's death. The Bay of Plenty Times reported on 15 June 1917:

Mr James Kerr has received word that his brother, John, second son of the late Capt Kerr of Gate Pa, who enlsited at Sydney with the Australian Light Horse was killed about April 19th last. The late Mr Kerr took part in several engagements in Egypt, and was reported missing some time ago (Bay of Plenty Times, 15 June 1917).

A Field Service Report details the events surrounding John's death:

Killed 19.4.1917 in the advance to, and while in temporary occupation of a Turkish Redoubt, and owing to the position being vacated and not subsequently re-occupied the dead were not able to be buried (via National Archives of Australia).

A memorial service was held at the Gate Pā Church in Tauranga on 8 July 1917 for John along with Privates W Reeve and T Clemson .

John is remembered on the Jerusalem Memorial at the Jerusalem War Cemetery in Israel. He is also remembered on he Gate Pā World War I memorial which lists nine soldiers from Gate Pā who lost their lives in World War I.

World War I Memorial: St George’s Church (Gate Pā)

John's parents, Howard and Mary, died in Tauranga and were buried in the Tauranga Anglican Cemetery.


References: Warwickshire County Record Office; Warwick, England; Warwickshire Anglican Registers; Roll: Engl/2/1194; Document Reference: DR 326

Australian War Memorial.

Bay of Plenty Times (1904, October 14). Death.

Bay of Plenty Times (1914, September 7). Funeral Notice.

Bay of Plenty Times (1914, September 10). The late Captain Kerr.

Bay of Plenty Times (1917, June 15). Local and General.

Bay of Plenty Times (1917, July 9). Local and General.

McLean, Heather (1997). Tauranga Anglican Cemetery Headstones.

National Archives of Australia.

The AIF Project.


A version of this article was archived in August 2016 at Perma CC

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John Andrew Bathurst Kerr (1876-1917)

Note:Service Number: 2818
First Names:John Andrew Bathurst
Last Name:Kerr
Date of Birth:1 January 1876
Place of Birth:Marston Sicca, Gloucestershire
Country of birth:England
Date of death:19 April 1917
Place of death:Sheikh Abbas Ridge, Gaza, Palestine
Place of burial:no known grave
Occupation:rubber planter
Date of Arrival:1884
Fathers name:Howard Kerr
Fathers date of birth:15 July 1832
Fathers place of birth:Gloucester, England
Fathers date of death:7 September 1914
Fathers place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Mothers name:Mary Kerr
Mothers date of birth:17 February 1837
Mothers place of birth:England
Mothers date of death:13 October 1904
Mothers place of death:Greerton, Tauranga, New Zealand
Military Service:World War I (1914-1918)

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