Frank Lyons Kerr

    Frank Lyons Kerr was born in Balaclava, Ontario, on June 15, 1893.1 In his youth, he attended the OSCI in Owen Sound. Following his high school education, he was a student at the North Bay Normal School,2 now known as the North Bay Teachers’ College. Frank was working as a teacher at the time of his enlistment in 1915.3 On July 7 of that year, he enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Niagara, and was posted to a Toronto based unit.4 He was just twenty-year years old at the time, and was deemed fit for service. Prior to enlistment, Frank Kerr was a member of the active Canadian militia.5


    Private Kerr arrived in France on February 22, 1916, with the 58th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division.6 The 58th Battalion had been authorized in April, 1915, and left for England on November 22.7 On June 4, 1916, Frank Kerr was wounded in the left arm by an enemy rifleman during the battle of Mont Sorrel near Ypres, Belgium. Kerr was first sent to the No. 11 General Hospital in Boulogne, France. After a brief stay at the 3rd Casualty Clearing station, Kerr returned to his unit only to be wounded again in the left arm, this time by shrapnel. He was patched up by the No. 9 Canadian Field Ambulance and returned to his unit on June 16.8


    As part of the 9th Infantry Brigade, the 58th Battalion did not see any front line action during the opening day of the Somme Offensive.9 On September 16, they were in place to launch an assault from a point that was to be established by the 7th Brigade attack earlier that day. The attack was not successful and the 9th Brigade did not enter the action. It was not until September 20, after a few days of poor weather, that the 58th Battalion would enter the fight. In a surprise morning assault, the battalion gained ground in Zollern Graben, a strongly fortified German trench. The Germans counter-attacked with great strength and recovered most of their losses.10 It was during this struggle that Pte. Frank Kerr was killed in action.11


    Frank Kerr is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France, one of over 11 000 Canadians killed in France during the First World War with no known grave.

1.  "Kerr, Frank Lyons," RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 760-46, Soldiers of the First World War: 1914-1918, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

2. "Kerr, Frank Lyons."

3. "Kerr, Frank Lyons."

4. The Toronto Star (Toronto, ON), October 12, 1916.

5. "Kerr, Frank Lyons."

6. "Kerr, Frank Lyons."

7. Site Contributor, "58th Battalion, C.E.F," Wikipedia, last modified January 31, 2016, accessed June 13, 2016,,_CEF.

8. "Kerr, Frank Lyons."

9. G.W.L Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919: Official History of the Canadian Army in the First World War (Kingston, Ontario: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1962), [Page 172].

10.  Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919, [Page 172].

11. "Circumstances of Casualty: Private Frank L. Kerr," Circumstances of Death Registers, First World War, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.