William Kerr

RankLieutenant William Ker
Medals1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal
RegimentRoyal Naval Volunteer Reserve, Hawke Battalion, RN Division
Military Service

At the outbreak of war in 1914 Ker joined the RNVR but like many other volunteers not required for seagoing positions he was posted to the Royal Naval Division in January 1915 and commissioned as a Sub Lieutenant on 19th January 1915. On 30th January he was assigned to Hawke Battalion but didn’t actually join the battalion at Blandford, Dorset until 9th March 1915. By this time the bulk of the Division had left for Lemnos, Greece in the run up to the Gallipoli landings but Ker did not leave for Gallipoli until May 1915.
In September 1915 he was posted to Alexandria from Gallipoli and rejoined his battalion a month later.
Between November 1915 and February 1916 he was several times temporarily promoted to Lieutenant, while in command of a Company, reverting to Sub Lieut when he no longer did so. By February 1916 his promotion had been made permanent. During this period British forces evacuated Gallipoli and the Royal Naval Division found itself garrisoning islands in the Aegean.
In February 1916 Ker was granted leave and left for Britain. When he rejoined the Battalion in May it had moved for the Western Front. The Division did not reach the Somme battlefield until late in the conflict and their first major engagement was an attack on Beaucourt on 13th November.


14th October 1892, Lorraine Gardens, Dowanhill

Death13th November 1916
Circumstances of Death

Killed in action while leading ‘D’ Company at the taking of Beaucourt-sur-Ancre.
The War Diary for the day states bluntly that ‘The Hawke Battalion after the first few minutes of the attack no longer existed as a unit. It transpired later that we attacked immediately in front of a very strong German Redoubt. The Battalion suffered [illeg] losses, it is known that in the first few minutes and in front of this redoubt, the Colonel, Adjutant, and 9 company commanders became casualties.’ William Ker is not specifically mentioned but it is safe to assume he was one of the nine company commanders.

MemorialThiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 1 A.
CWGC Information

Son of Charles and Florence Higginbotam (sic) Ker, of 115 Vincent St., Glasgow. B.A. Educated at Rugby School and Balliol College, Oxford.


Charles Ker (1860-1940) & Florence Higginbotham (c1865- )

Father's Occupation

Chartered accountant


Margaret (c1890 – ), Edwin (1891- ), Charles (c1897- ), Margaret (c1900 – ), Flora (c1900 – )




Cargilfield School
Rugby School, School House 1907-1911
Balliol College, Oxford 1911-1914 (3rd class degree in Classics)


Training to be a chartered accountant

1901 Census

Richmond House, Dullatur, Dumbartonshire

1911 Census

Richmond House, Dullatur, Dumbartonshire

Home Address

1915 Easterton, Milngavie, Scotland

Glasgow NecropolisCompartment Upsilon Lair 10
Other Memorials

Strathblane War Memorial
Cargilfield School Roll of Honour
Balliol Boat House Roll of Honour
Balliol College War Memorial Book
Scottish National War Memorial

Other Information

Played hockey for Oxford University and, in 1914, for Scotland.
He features in two poems by AP Herbert – ‘The Bathe’ and ‘Beaucourt Revisited’

Acknowledgements and Sources

Much of the information on which this profile is based is drawn from various internet sources which are listed below.  The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis also wish to make full acknowledgement and thanks for the permitted use of any information or images generously supplied specifically for exhibition, publication or display in connection with The Roll of Honour and accompanying profiles to Anne Balfour, Rugby School, Balliol College, Oxford, Oxford University Archives,  Ancestry, and Find my past.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Family Search

Scotlands People

The Long, Long Trail

The Scottish War Memorials Project

Hawke Battalion 63rd (Royal Naval) Division, War Diary May 1916 – May 1919. (TNA WO 95/3114/2)

Service Record of William Ker (TNA ADM/339/3)

A Village Remembers, Strathblane First World War Project, 2014



Compiled by Morag Fyfe, Historical and Genealogical Researcher for The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis.

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