The search for relatives of a Cardenden soldier killed in World War 1 is finally over and a special medal has been returned ... all the way from Canada.
David Davidson (70) was presented with his grandfather’s 1914-15 Star Medal at his home on Christmas Eve following an extensive appeal launched by the Press in October.
Mr Davidson said he was delighted to be given the special piece which was awarded to Private David Kerr approximately three years after his death.
The search began after Canadian man Donald Bennett contacted the Press to say his grandfather, James Eadie, had served in the Royal West Kent Regiment during WW1 and had given him his service medals including a 1914-15 Star belonging to Private Kerr.
Private Kerr, who served with the Scottish Rifles, was killed in action during the Battle of Loos in France in September 1915.
Mr Bennett said it was his grandfather’s wish to return the medal to Private Kerr’s descendants - and he believed the young soldier was originally from the Cardenden area.
At the time Mr Bennett, who lives in Toronto, said: “From what I understand Private Kerr was born on May 17, 1886 in New Cumnock and his parents names were David Kerr and Elizabeth McGregor.
“They moved to Cardenden and he married a woman named Mary Simpson on January 29, 1909.
“My grandfather served with the Royal West Ken Regiment during World War I and in the late 1970s he gave me his service medals as well as a 1914-15 Star belonging to Private David Kerr of 12224 Scottish Rifles.
“I don’t know if Private Kerr was a friend of his or how he came to possess the medal, but I do know he hoped I would one day return it.”
He continued: “It’s the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, and it would be fitting for this medal to be returned to one of Private Kerr’s living descendants on this anniversary year.
“I know he would definitely have wanted the medal to be given to his family especially as Private Kerr was killed in action and never received it - the Star was issued in 1918, approximately three years after his death.”
Mr Bennett said half of his mother’s family were from Fife but he couldn’t find anything to connect them to the Kerrs. He hoped that someone in Cardenden or the surrounding areas recognised the name.
The appeal featured in the Press and was then picked up
by a leading news organisation and it came to the attention of experienced geneologist, Dr Brian Thomson.
He leads Scots Family, a geneaogy ancestor search service based in Edinburgh, and tried to find out all he could about Private Kerr’s family.
He told The Press: “I discovered that David Kerr married Mary Simpson before the war in 1909 and had two daughters which was quite unusual back then as most soldiers were single.
“A few years after his death his wife Mary married again and she had children. But at least one of David’s daughters also married and on her death certificate in 1977 we discovered a son as informant.
‘‘I was then able to locate the records of the grandson of David Kerr, who was called David Kerr Davidson, and I found his address in Cardenden. I thought it seemed too coincidental for him to have the same first names as his grandfather and to also be living in Cardenden, so I was sure he was a relation.”
Dr Thomson was able to link up with Mr Bennett through the Scots Family website and both got in touch with the Press, which then tracked down Mr Davidson at his home.
Dr Thomson added: “It’s amazing to think this medal was issued in the UK and then went to Canada before finally coming back here. It’s the first time I have been involved in a search like this and it’s very satisfying to have been able to help return the medal to the relatives of Private Kerr.”
Mr Davidson said: “I am really pleased to have this medal because I have nothing else of my grandfather’s. I didn’t know anything about this. I knew he had fought in the war but that’s all I knew about him and I wished I had asked my mother for more information.”
His daughter, Yvonne Davidson, added: “We would really like to thank Dr Thomson and Mr Bennett for doing this - we are very pleased to have the medal back in the family.”