William Kenneth Atkinson Kerns was born on 5th September 1893.
The 1901 Census on Ancestry.co.ukshows that the Kerns family was living in Halton in the district of Nelson, Ontario. Head of the household was Edwin Bruce Kerns age 45. He was born on the 25th October 1867 and was a a Farmer by trade. His wife Sarah Rebecca (nee Atkinson) was 30 years of age and was born on 1st May 1870. Their listed children were David B, born on the 25th October 1891, William K. age 7 born on the 5th September 1893, Edward Blake aged 5 born on the 5th May 1896 and George aged 2 born 19th March 1898. There was another member of the family at this address She was Ada Atkinson who was 25 years of age born 27th March 1871 and her title on the census was Sister-in-Law.
I have not been able to trace the Kerns family in 1911.
William’s army records tell us that he enlisted into the 164th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry on 23rd March 1916 at Milton Ontario. He gave his next of kin as Edward Bruce Atkinson Kerns (father), Zimmerman, Milton, Ontario and his trade as Farmer. After basic training in Canada, William embarked for England on board the S.S. Carpathia on 10th April 1917 arriving on 22nd April 1917, when he was posted to complete his training at East Sandling Army Camp. (For more information about SS Carpathia, scroll further down this page).
William remained at East Sandling Camp until 28th February 1918 when he was transferred to 102nd battalion and posted overseas He was awarded a Good Conduct badge on 23rd March 1918 and returned to UK on 26th October 1918 when he was posted to Whitley Camp. (Library and Archives, Canada).
I came across a website called The Maple Leaf legacy Project and the following information was sourced from there. It describes how William became ill while still in France.
Private Kerns was born in Burlington, Ontario, south of Milton and was son to Edward Bruce Atkinson and Sarah Kerns of Zimmerman, Ontario. He attested to the 164th Infantry Battalion on March 23, 1916. From there he passed through the 2nd Reserve Battalion prior to his service posting with the 102nd Battalion (4th Division, 11th Infantry Brigade) on February 28, 1918.
On October 4, 1918 Private Kerns was sent “dangerously ill” to the 33rd Casualty Clearing Station with appendicitis. The unit had recently returned from front line duty at Bourlon Wood at the Battle of Canal du Nord and Cambrai. The unit had been on loan to the 3rd Division. He was subsequently sent to the No. 8 Stationary Hospital Wimereux and then admitted to hospital in Manchester, England. October 26, 1918 where he received surgery. He was discharged “fit for duty” to the 8th Reserve Battalion in Witley on January 31, 1919.
Private Kerns was admitted to Kinmel Park Military Hospital with severe abdominal pains at 4 pm March 7, 1919. He subsequently died at the No. 9 General Hospital Kinmel Surgical Hospital at 8 am March 9, 1919 after surgery to relieve an intestinal obstruction. His service record is very detailed on this event.
William was buried in St. Margaret’s Cemetery, Bodelwyddan.
William is commemorated on the Milton War Memorial and the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.
Additional Information. SS Carpathia.
For most of her career the Carpathia operated on the Trieste – New York and Liverpool – New York routes. The most famous incident in Carpathia’s history came on the night of 14/15 April 1912 when she received an SOS call from the Titanic. Carpathia raced at full speed the 58 miles to the scene but by the time she arrived the Titanic had sunk. Carpathia picked up all 705 survivors from the life boats and took them to New York.
The Carpathia remained in commercial service during WWI but was sunk on 17 July 1918 with the loss of five lives.
|Dimensions||170.1 x 19.5 m (558 x 64 ft)|
|Fate||Torpedoed (U 55)|