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By Al Sholund

Chip KerrIn 1854 Queen Victoria decreed that a medal be struck honoring “valour” in the services.

Since 1854 John Chipman “Chip” Kerr was one of ninety-four Canadians who have received that medal–The British Empire’s highest military honour–The Victoria Cross.

Chip was farming in Alberta before enlisting in the Edmonton 49th Battalion which fought at Ypres before moving on to the Somme. Chip was a Chief Bayonet man in a group of twelve from the Battalion.

On Sept. 16, 1916 they had a close combat grenade battle with a number of Germans. This group of twelve captured sixty-two German soldiers. For a number of very courageous acts he received the Victoria Cross from King George V at Buckingham Palace on Feb. 5, 1917.

During World War II Chip reenlisted and became a service policeman at Sea Island. After the war he retired with his family to Port Moody. His house, which he called “Sleepy Castle”, was on the 2300-block of St. Johns. It has recently been relocated to 2100 Clarke St. and has been declared a heritage house. Chip died on Feb.19, 1963 and lies in the Mountain View Cemetery. His widow donated his medal to the Canadian War Museum.

Chip was honoured by the city of Edmonton, has a mountain in Jasper National Park in his honour, and in Port Moody we have the “Chip Kerr Memorial Auditorium” in Branch 119, Royal Canadian Legion, of which he was a life member. Stored at the Port Moody Museum on behalf of the city is a framed document which reads “Citizens Of the City of Port Moody 1914 to 19-- Serving with His Majesty’s Forces During the European War.”

There are 54 men listed on the document along with their military units. Five were listed as killed and five were listed as severely wounded. This is an enormous contribution considering the small population in Port Moody in 1914!

One of those listed was W. (Darcy) Kreut. He and six others on the list, because they had worked in the local sawmills, were assigned to the foresters. This was a special unit set up to log and to operate portable saw mills in France.

Starting in 1916 morale boosting concerts were given to the troops. The concept was expanded when the YMCA got permission to second talented men from various units to perform under the name “Dumbells” (taken from the 3rd division insignia). They were extremely successful because their humourous skits were based on the everyday soldiers’ life. The Dumbells performed wherever Canadian troops were fighting.

One of these Dumbells was “Darky” Kreut. He was seconded because he had a fine voice and a sense of humour. His nickname was the result of playing in minstrel shows.

After military service “Darky” worked at the Ioco refinery and lived on the town site. He carried on his ability to make people happy with his skits and singing. He was the perpetual Santa Claus. He performed in many fund raising concerts in the Ioco Hall during the depression. 

Last updated: 05/11/2018 9:27:09 AM