John "Jock" Kerr

The worst part of the 1950 - 1952 commisssion was the death by drowning of Able Seaman John "Jock" Kerr, JX 867524, in a boating accident in Lake Victoria, Rangoon, Burma on April 23, 1952.

Jock Kerr

Roy Sankey writing from australia said that "Jock Kerr was a shore going oppo of mine. I was in the boating party on the day it happened. I swam a half to three quarters of a mile to the American Embassy Residence to get a message to Gambia that we needed divers."

Bill Price said that "I remember Able Seaman Kerr and I believe he used to be on my watch before we went on the Bridge. I also did Ceremonial Guard. When the poor chap drowned it was a very sad occasion at the time."

Ken Booth said that "the funeral was the longest procession ever seen in Rangoon." Both he and Dennis Kirkley mentioned that some of Jock's possessions were auctioned off with many items getting several pounds when they were only worth pennies. Dennis wrote that "The Leading Hand of the Mess was L/S Welsby. The Lake was rumoured to claim a life a year. Jock was buried with full Naval Honours on an Old Japanese Gun Carriage, and a big unit of Burmese Naval Ratings in Rangoon. His gear raised about a £100 I think? This money and his photos were sent to his next of kin in Scotland. I don't think we ever received a reply back."

Everyone thought that Jock's only next of kin was his father, so were not surprised that they did not get a reply. In May 2020, I got an email from John Kerr's family and it seems things were not quite so simple. John's mother died when he was very young and rather than being brought up by his father, John was raised by his uncle. Mary McDaid was 92 in 2020, and had been thinking about her cousin and close friend John, so asked her niece to find what had happened to him, which is how they found this page. The family had always assumed that John's uncle was his natural father and that John's real father was childless. They also thought that John had "run away to sea" and had died during WWII.

Front row: John "Jock" Kerr and Scouse Gallagher; second row: Jan Birch and unknown; at the back is "Nelly" Dean. This photo was taken while still in Devoport before the commission, sometime in 1949/50 John "Jock" Kerr's funeral. Photo from dad's photo album John "Jock" Kerr's funeral John "Jock" Kerr's funeral John "Jock" Kerr's funeral John "Jock" Kerr's funeral John "Jock" Kerr's funeral John "Jock" Kerr's funeral John "Jock" Kerr's grave. Photo from dad's photo album

Sadly, although much work was undertaken by various groups in Burma, including the Salvation Army and Roman Catholic Padres, the original grave of Jock Kerr is no longer to be found, as the graveyard has been moved no less than three times over the years.

Since the 1950s, Victoria Lake has been renamed Inya Lake, and Rangoon is now known as Yangon.