Alfred George Kerley

Alfred Kerley

Alfred Kerley 1888-1918

Date of birth: 21st April 1888
Place of birth: Southampton
Service No.: 422102
Rank: Private
Regiment / Division: Canadian Infantry
Battalion: 8th Battalion/90th Winnipeg Rifles
Died: 10th August 1918 aged 30 years
Death location: France



Before the War
Alfred was born in Southampton on 21st April 1888 to Henry (22/05/1850 – 16/01/1925) and Annie Kerley (nee Day 1853 – 30/04/1928).  His parents were married in Southampton on 8th November 1875.

Alfred’s 6 siblings, 4 sisters and 2 brothers, were:

Lilian Ethel (1876 – 07/01/1953)

Florence (24/041879 – 22/01/1911).  Married Arthur Kirby in Southampton in 1905.

Henry Horace (08/05/1881 – 29/03/1950), was known as Horace and he married Jean Cairnahan Shields in Winnipeg, Canada on 3rd July 1913.

Ada Emily (1883 – 16/06/1955).  Married James J Vivian in Southampton in 1917.

Hilda Annie (1886 – 24/12/1926).  Married Stanley Herbert Chatfield in Southampton in 1908.

Edgar John (1894 – 13/01/1962).  Married Agnes Potter in St Ives, Huntingdonshire in 1924.  He served in the Hampshire Regiment during the First World War.

In the 1891 census Alfred was living with his family at 128 Northumberland Road, Southampton.  His father is employed as an Insurance Agent.

At the 1901 census the family were still living at the same address.  Florence, Ada and Hilda are Tailoresses.  Henry Horace is a shop assistant.

By the time of the 1911 census Alfred’s parents are living with daughter Lillian and son Edgar, still at the Northumberland Road address.  His sister Ada was living at 70 Middle Street, Brighton with her sister Hilda.  Alfred’s brother Horace emigrated to Canada in 1904 and became a minister, after studying at Wesley College in Winnipeg.  Several members of Alfred’s family were involved in the church and enjoyed making music.

Alfred emigrated to Canada.  He sailed from Liverpool aboard SS Ionian on 20th May 1907 and arrived in Quebec on 29th May 1907.  He went to Winnipeg in 1909 or 1910, where he spent a year at the Wesley College, following in his elder brother Horace’s footsteps. Alfred then worked in the Indian School, Norway House, in Northern Manitoba, where he worked with the Cree Indians, possibly teaching them woodwork.  Alfred took up a homestead but then enlisted in the Canadian Army.  While he was overseas, his shack was rifled and everything was stolen.


Alfred Kerley with Cree Indians

Alfred Kerley with Cree Indians

Military History

Alfred was working as a clerk when he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Shorncliffe, Manitoba on 16th July 1915. When he died Alfred was serving in the 8th Battalion.   They were known as the ‘Little Black Devils’ after service against the Métis in 1885.  ‘A captured Métis asked, “The red coats we know, but who are those little black devils?”.  A reference to the fact that while infantry of the line wore red coats, the Winnipeg soldiers were clad in traditional rifle green. From that point on, the 90th Rifles (and later Royal Winnipeg Rifles) became informally nicknamed the “Little Black Devils”.’ The Battalion’s motto is ‘Hosti Acie Nominati,’ which means “named by the enemy in battle”.

Alfred Kerley's grave marker

Alfred Kerley’s grave marker

Alfred died on 10th August 1918 and the casualty report read:

‘Whilst taking part with his battalion in the advance on Caix, on August 9th, 1918, he was severely wounded in the abdomen by bullets from an enemy machine gun.  His comrades gave him First aid and carried him to the dressing station, and he was later evacuated to No. 47 Casualty Clearing Station where he died the following day’

Alfred was awarded the British War and the Victory medals, which were donated to the Nanaimo Military Museum.  Nanaimo is a town on Vancouver Island.

Alfred was buried in Asylum Cemetery, Amiens, then exhumed and re-interred at Dury Hospital Military Cemetery.  After the Armistice Alfred was one of 150 Canadians brought from this cemetery and re-interred at Villers Bretonneux Military Cemetery.  Plot 3, Row BB, Grave 10.



With very grateful thanks to John, Jane and Betty for their invaluable information and lovely photos.

Researcher: Jackie Chandler
Published: 13th September 2013
Updated: Insert dates here

If you have any more information about the above named person, or any other name listed on this website or Southampton’s Cenotaph, please email, or telephone 023 8086 9599 and we will contact you.  Many thanks.

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