KERR John 16298

LEST WE FORGET

Corporal John KERR

Service No: 16298
Born: Belfast, Ireland, 10 March 1905
Enlisted in the RAAF: 27 April 1940 (at Perth WA)
Unit: No. 1 Squadron, Java (taken Prisoner of War, Java, March 1942)
Died: Prisoner of War: Loss of Timor and Java (Illness: Fever and Debility), Thailand, 5 August 1945, Aged 40 Years
Buried: Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Thailand
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John and Margaret Kerr; husband of Alice Jean Norman Kerr, of Wembley Park, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: West Leederville WA
Remembered: Panel 97, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Corporal Kerr became a Prisoner of War in the following circumstances.

A total of 120 members of No 1 Squadron had been sent back to Australia. Luck was against those who went to Tjilatjap (Java); on the 5th (March 1942) the port was blasted by enemy bombers and all the ships in the harbour were sunk. There thus remained in Java 160 officers and airmen of the squadron. A plan for their evacuation by flying-boat had been made. In keeping with this plan the party now waited at the rendezvous, a beach on the south coast near Pameungpeuk. As they waited the hours lengthened into days and their anxiety changed into resignation. The flying-boats never came. The whole party, including their always resolute commanding officer, Wing Commander Davis, became prisoners. As he had led them through the stress of the Malayan, the Sumatran and the Javan campaigns, so now Davis still led them as they submitted to the bitterness of captivity.

Extract from Gillison, D. (Douglas) Royal Australian Air Force 1939-1942, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1962 – Page 444

The flying boats that never came were those destroyed during the Japanese air raid on Broome WA on 4 March 1942.

A report by fellow prisoner Warrant Officer Ian Somerville Fairbairn (404703) held on Corporal Kerr’s NAA file states that Corporal Kerr died from dysentery and malaria and was buried with respect.

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/22/383