Category Archives: surname K

Nursing Sister Jessie Nelson King

Nursing Sister Jessie Nelson King served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps during World War One. She is entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

She was born on June 8th, 1892 in North Vancouver, British Columbia

Height : 5′ 4″     Weight : 128 lbs.           Religion : Anglican

She graduated from the provincial Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria British, Columbia in 1916.

She enlisted on April 28th, 1917 in Victoria, British Columbia

She sailed from Canada o May 30th, 1917 and disembarked in England on June 14th.

Posted with the 9th Canadian Stationary Hospital on June 21st, 1917.

She was posted with the 12th Canadian General Hospital on October 12th and transferred to the 1st Canadian General Hospital on November 8th, 1917.

She was hospitalized at the 14th General Hospital in Wimereux for influenza on November 2nd, 1918.

hospitalized on March 5th, 1919 at the 14th Stationary Hospital (Dangerously ill, condition desparate)

On March 30th she was still dangerously ill (condition unchanged)

She died on April 4th, 1919 at the 14th Stationary Hospital in Boulogne at the age of 26 (cerebro spinal meningitis). She is buried in the British cemetery in Terlincthun, France XIV. A. 2.

Medals (British War Medal, Victory Medal), Memorial Plaque and Scroll and the Memorial Cross were sent to her mother Clara Amy King at 1246 Balmoral Road Victoria, British Columbia

If you know more information on this lady, please leave me message so I can add it to his small biography.

Picture of her gravestone

1891 Hazara campaign to Queen’s Own Corps of Guides Infantry

Some military campaigns have long been gone in history and are almost forgotten except for a clasp on a medal or a few paragraphs in an old dusty book. Those events happened in a way and in locations that makes today’s history only whisper about those events. Their battlefields were so in a remote area that today’s world of information can barely tell where it is. There was no glorious charge or Victoria Cross action to save the day but fear was amongst each men expecting the enemy. Men, advancing, rifles in their hands, not knowing if the next step would be their last. In those unsung campaigns there were also unsung heroes who were there to support the troops. The men of the Corps of Guides formed that type of unit, their role was to pave the way to the main force and they very often forgotten by history. In the Hazara campaign of 1891, the Queen’s Own Corps of Guides Infantry did what they were asked to do and did not seek any glory.

A few years back while looking at the catalog of a medals’ dealer my attention was caught by a medal to a Sepoy (private) to the Queen’s Own Corps of Guide. Although I did not knew much about the Corps of Guide, just the name Queen’s Own seemed interesting for research. The Internet being a good research tool for basic information I started my research there. After a few clics and words, I realized that my quest would need to take another path. Unable to get much information, I decided to settle for information on the Hazara campaign instead, same result, nothing.

Since the size of the Hazara campaign and the role that he unit played make information scarcer in a world of global information, I decided to turn my research to the another very important source of information, books. There I was able to find three books that do speak about the Hazara campaign and Guides, History of the Guides by Sir George Fletcher, Frontier and overseas : Expeditions from India volume 1 andThe story of the guides by Colonel G. J. Younghusband.

India General service medal 1854 – 1895 clasp Hazara 1891 to Guides

The Corps of Guides was created on  on December 14th 1846 because of the necessity of having a small force acquainted with localities, at the command of civil authority in a new country bordering troubled districts. Guides first saw action in 1847 and received their first campaign medal in 1869. On March 10th 1875, Queen Victoria gave them the distinction of being called Queen’s Own and the right to wear the Royal cypher within the Garter. The Corps is composed of eight companies, A company : Dogras (Kangra and Jammu), B company : Yasafzais and Riverine Akora Khattas, C company : Punjabi Musulmans and Cis-Indus (Narreb) Khattaks, D company : Afridis (Malikdin and Kambar Khel), E company : Gurkhans (Magar and Gurung), F company : Jat Sikhs (mixed), G company : mixed classes, H company : Jat Sikhs (mixed)

click on the image to enlarge

The Hazara campaign is not the most prestigious campaign of the Victorian era, it is just a campaign where no glorious actionwas accomplished but only where everyone did their duty. It happened in an area of the planet that is very remote and even with today’s information web, it’s still very hard to find on a map. The region of the Black Mountains in Pakistan have been a troubled area for the British since the middle of the 19th century. Their first military expedition to reestablish the order in that area was lead in 1852; after that three others would follow, one in 1868, one in 1888 and the last one in 1891.

Origin of the campaign

In the fall of 1890 a British force led by Brigadier-General McQueen which was patrolling along the India border in the area of the Black Mountains had to turn back in front of an opposition from local tribes. The rebels refused to bow to the British Empire. As a response to that challenge in early 1891; British assembled a punishment force with the objective of

“assert the right to move along the crest of the Black mountains without molestation ; and next, and more particulary to inflict punishment on the tribes concerned for the hostility practised on that occasion” .

Guides infantry were called upon during that spring to be part of the Hazara force to re-establish law and order in the troubled region. The main force was assembled at Oghi and Darband by early march 1891. The total strength was of 7289 men and 15 guns.

Since the progression of the force would be done alongside the Indus river and from the experience gained of the 1888 expedition, the commander of the force, Major General W.K. Elles divided his group in two columns. Guides were assigned to the left column also known as the River Column which was commanded by Brigadier General R.F. Williamson. They were accompanied on their journey by the No 1 Mountain Battery, No 2 Deragat Mountain Battery, 2nd battalion Seaforth Highlanders, the Headquarters Wing 32nd Pioneers, 37 Bengal’s Infantry and 4th Sikhs. The other half of this force was the right column which was composed of those units ; No. 9 Mountain Battery Royal Artillery, 1st Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 11th Bengal Infantry , Wing 32nd Pioneers, 2nd Battalion 5th Gurkhas and Khyber Rifles.

The 1891 Hazara Campaign

The following description tells the events that happened for Guides during the Hazara campaign of 1891

March 4th : Guides left Mardan and completed the 30 miles trek to join the Hazara field force at Darband on March 9th. Due to bad weather the force would not be ready to move forward until March 12th.

March 12th : Guides moved out of Darband with the River column on that day at 8:30 a.m. and went to occupy Kotchai as their first action in this campaign. At night the River column bivouacked at Taward and two companies of Guides went on the right bank of the river as an observation force.

March 13th : Two companies of Guides moved up to take fresh ground up to the village where shots were exchanged with the rebels. On that same morning a reconnoitring force composed of half a battalion of Seaforth Highlanders and half a battalion of Guides crossed the river on the right bank. They visited several villages and finally made the junction at Garhi with the other two companies of Guides which had camped on that side of the river the night before.

March 15 th : The force approached Palosi’s plain. During the night to the 16th, news were received that the Chief political officer of the rebels were on their way to meet the British. A little later during the night; information was received that rebels are anxious to submit.

March 19th Two companies of Guides are sent to Kawar to reinforce the contingent after fire shots.

March 20th : The River Column continues its march toward Tawara and Pirzada Bela. They took position into rebel claimed territory and British artillery fire shots at rebel’s position in the mountain near Bakrai and Makhranai.

March 21st : Marched from Pirzada Bela to Palosi and occupied Ril.

March 22nd : Column returned to Tilli.

March 23rd : As they were getting deeper in rebels’ territory, a wing of Guides is sent across the river to observe enemy movement and to act as a support force to the 4th Sikhs which has already crossed the river and established their position at a place called Bakrai. Guides joined the 4th Sikhs at 5:30 p.m. to drive the enemy out of the hills. In the presence of the Sikhs regiment,  the rebels had assembled more men in the hill overlooking Sikhs and Guides position. The British commander felt that they did not have the best tactical position on the ground and ordered a withdrawal of all troops. Guides and Sikhs crossed back the river.

March 24th : Troops left Tilli for Palosi.

March 25th : Troops advanced to Shal Nala and established their camp in Darbanai. The stalemate continued to rise, rebels kept arriving in the area. The British decided then to strengthen their forces in Darband in case of an attack.

End of April : Finally tribes decided they could not match British superiority in fire power and made their submission to the ruler. The last tribe submitted unconditionally to the British.

May 26th Both clans the Hassanzai and Akazai were given permission to re-occupy their land. They agreed on the term of the surrendering on May 29th.

June 9th Troops are ordered back to India except for a small force which stayed and remained as part of the occupation force in Oghi and Seri, on the crest of the Black mountain. Guides infantry returned to Mardan on June 23rd ending their task with this expedition.

Map of the Black Mountains area showing some of the Corps of Guides position during the campaign

click on the image to enlarge

There was never an engagement of massive forces between the two belligerents, there was no heroic charge to retake a vital position. There were just two enemies looking at each other in the eye and watching who would make the first move. The number of casualties for the British force was 9 killed and 39 wounded. From the information I found, I am not able to tell if some of those casualties were to the Corps of Guides.

On those nights of March 1891 for a Guide like Ghour Khan who was right in the middle of that confrontation, it was war. For those men life was at stake on a wire that could have been easily broken. His participation in that campaign gave him the India General Service medal with the clasp 1891 Hazara.

India General Service Medal clasp Hazara 1891 to Sepoy Ghour Khan – Queen’s Own Corps of Guides

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Private John Grierson Kerr

Private John Grierson Kerr served in the Scots Guards during WW1. He is entitled to the 1914 Star with clasp, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His enlistment number is 4723. He is also entitled to the Silver War badge.

Born on October 23rd 1879 in Liverpool, England

Trade : Clerk      Religion : Presbyterian        Eyes : Hazel

Height : 6 ‘0”      Weight : 151 lbs.                 Hair : Sandy

December 19th, 1902: He enlisted in Liverpool, England in the 2nd battalion Scots Guards

November 25th, 1905: He was imprisoned by the Commanding Officer. He returned to duty on December 3rd.

December 19th: Transferred to the 3rd battalion Reserve

May 22nd, 1914: He married Catherine Mary Simpson

August 4th: The regiment received the order to mobilize. August 9th: The Brigade route march

Private John G Kerr Medals Index Card WW1

August 13th: The battalion entrained in the morning. They embarked on the SS Dunegan Castle and sailed to France at noon.

August 14th: They arrived in Le Havre, France at 1 pm, disembarked and marched 6 miles to Honfleur Camp.

August 15th: They left Camp Honfleur at 9pm to Le Havre Station and entrained at 4 am on the 16th in route to Le Nouvion.

August 17th: They marched in direction to Boué where the 1st Guards Brigade was assembling with the 1st Coldstream Guards, 1st Black Watch and the 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers.

August 23rd: They arrived in Belgium and it is on that day that they’ve heard the first sign of war, an artillery barrage. They were sent to the trenches on the 24th, expecting an attack.

August 26-27th: For the first time for the war, the battalion was put on the Front Line. Their actual first contact came on the 27th when they were shelled by artillery on that day.

September 6th: Baptism of fire for the battalion, they came under enemy fire but they had to retire

October 21st: The battalion was in trench near Poperinghe and they were attacked by the Germans. They were involved in heavy fighting until the 24th. They made 250 Germans prisoner on the 23rd and endured a German artillery attack on the 24th.

October 31st: First day of the First battle of Ypres.

November 8th: Heavy shelling, followed by a German infantry attack that broke the British line. The German remained in the trench just right of the Scots Guards.

November 11th: According to the regimental diary, they came under a terrific artillery barrage that started at 6:30 am and lasted for 3 hours followed by a German infantry attack. Many men of the regiment did not escape the German attack.

Scots Guards were pulled out of the line on November 17th and rested until December 20th. The battalion casualties for that period alone were 114 killed, 158 wounded and 435 missing. From The Scots Guards in the Great War page 44 “The German bombardment was terrific, Lord Darymple and his CSM counted over 120 shells bursts within 100 yards round them in two minutes” 

January 10th, 1915: The British bombarded the Germans with such intensity that according to the battalion diary, the ground seemed alive with shelves.

January 13th: They were pulled out of the Front Line after 4 months of fierce and intense fighting with little rest between the battles.

January 25th: They heaviest engagement since their return to the Front Line. The Germans bombarded their trenches for 30 minutes and then detonated 2 mines under them, many casualties.

By March the heavy fighting is less considerable and you see in the battalion log book that they do have more rest behind the Front Line. Although there are still some heavy engagements, the number of encounters is less than what they saw for the first five months of the war.

March 2nd: Returned to England and transferred to the 3rd battalion.

May 10th: He deserted until June 5th and was convicted to 42 days for absence without a leave on June 18th.

May 25th: He arrived back to France

November 16th: He returned to England

December 18th: He was discharged after serving for 13 years

I am not sure what happenned to him but it was a very uncommon practice to discharge someone without physical wounds so early in the war. Considering that he died at the age of 54 in a mental institution, I think he was a case of severe “shell shocked” or as we call it today, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)

July 30th, 1934 : Died at the Rainhill Mental Institution

If you know more information on this gentleman, please leave me message so I can add it to his small biography.

John Grierson Kerr cause of death 1934

Private George William Killey M.S.M.

Private George William Killey, MSM, served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps during WW1. he is entitled to the Meritorious Service medal, the British War medal and the Victory medal. His enlistment number 2333
1891 Isle of Man census taken in Onchan Isle of Man
Father Robert W. Killey born in 1866           Mother : Emily I Killey born in 1866
Sister : Rhoda C. Killey born in 1890

1901 Isle of Man census taken in Cochan Isle of Man (listed as Kelley)
Father : Robert William born 1866                       Mother : Emily J born 1866
Brother : Robert J born 1894                                  Sister : Rhoda C born 1890
Sister : Elizabeth C. born 1898                                Brother : William C born 1896

Born on January 29th, 1891 in Douglas Isle of Man, United Kingdom
Trade : gas fitter                       Religion : Church of England
Status : single                            Height : 5′ 5″
Eyes : blue                                  Hair : black
Weight : 146 lbs                      Address of his father R.W. Killey : 46 Martin ave, Winnipeg

June 18th, 1915 : Enlisted in the 3rd Canadian Casualties Clearing Station in Winnipeg, Manitoba
partial deafness right ear

July 1st : Embarked on the SS Grampian in Montreal

February 4th, 1916 : Unit withdrew from duty at Military Hospital in Shorncliffe. At 6:46 they paraded in Shorncliffe Station. Arrived in Southampton at 14:10. Embarked on the City of Benares at 17:30 and arrived in Havre, France on February 6th.

August 9th : Gas attack in their sector. On that day they had 178 admissions, 54 of those would died.

November 6th : 14 days permission

January 7th, 1917 : Admitted at the 3rd Canadian Casualties Clearing Station (furonculosis arm and left knee). Returned to unit on the 12th.

November 18th, 1918 : 14 days permission
December 4th : granted extension of leave until December 12th.

April 2nd, 1919 : returned to England. The unit was operational for 2 years and 10 months they had 85 543 admissions, performed 12677 operations and 2278 deads

April 22nd : Embarked on the SS Baltic in Liverpool. Arrived in Canada on April 29th.

May 21st : Demobilised         Address : 46 Martin Elmwood, Winnipeg

August 6th : Awarded the Meritorious Service medal

The number of Army Meritorious service medal issued to Canadians, are as follows:
For Service: 275   For Gallantry:1430
Duly recommended for the grant in respect of gallant conduct in the performance of military duty otherwise than in action against the enemy, or in saving, or attempting to save the life of an officer or soldier, or for devotion to duty in a theatre of war.

If you know additional information on this gentleman, please leave me a comment so I can add the information to his small biography