B: 30th April 1894 – Northcote, Vic
Written by Frederick’s son Bryan, this is a snapshot of his life:
Frederick Thomas was the fifth son born to his family on the 30th April, 1894 at Northcote. Father to John, Colin and Bryan and Grandfather to Cheryl, Wendy and Bruce, Ian & Nola.
According to his army discharge papers, Fred was 5ft 7ins. tall, blue grey eyes and with a fair complexion and fair hair, which he parted mostly down the middle. In 1906 he won a State School Scholarship at the Fairfield State School to Melbourne Grammar, aged twelve and while at that school also won the F.G.Smith scholarship to Melbourne University in 1910, aged 16 1/2 years, but was not admitted until 1912 where he pursued a course of Mining Engineering which he completed in 1915 – 1916, receiving his Bachelor Degree (B.M.E.) in 1918, following his return from active service in World War 1.
Following completion of the University exams in 1915-16, Father enlisted on the 18th February, 1916 in the First A.I.F for service in World War 1 at the Melbourne Town Hall. After training at Seymour, he embarked on the troopship “HORORATA” on the 23rd November for England.
After training for the Battalion at Larkhill, England, he was admitted to hospital a number of times, firstly at Fovant in Wiltshire with mumps. He returned to active service in France on the 21st July and was involved in the Battle of Messines, the third battle at Ypres and at Polygon Wood where he was severely wounded in the arm, neck and hand on the 18th September, 1917 along the Menin Road. He was later transferred to Hospital to recuperate. He returned to Australia on the hospital ship “CORINTHIC” arriving in Melbourne in November. He was discharged as medically unfit on the 23rd April, 1918; an army service record of 26 months.
Frederick went to Broken Hill about 1920 and worked for the Block 14 mine and later as Chief Surveyor and Assistant Mine Manager at the Central Mine until its closure in 1940. Early in 1940 he was appointed to the position of Chief Surveyor at the Occidental Mine at Cobar in N.S.W., and took the family to Cobar in June of that year. Six months later, this mine also closed and he applied for and was promoted to the position of local Inspector of Mines at Broken Hill.
Frederick was a well-respected member of the community in Broken Hill. He was a member of two primary schools and the high school committees and also taught mining subjects at the Broken Hill Technical College, but never returned to the College on his return from Cobar in 1941 following his appointment to the Mines Inspectorate.
Frederick was a member of the local Masonic lodge. There was an article published in 1940 in the local paper, the Barrier Miner, concerning his activities since moving to the Hill in 1920. My brother, John Frederick received a letter from father, no doubt the last he ever wrote, dated the 25th January, 1945 advising him that he was “leaving for Broken Hill on the Stinson plane with Bryan on the 30th.”
Due to cancellation of this flight because of heavy fog on the 30th, Bryan was off-loaded the following day in favour of his brother Colin who had a greater wartime travel priority as he was returning to work as a Cadet at the Zinc Corporation Mine. Father had a travel priority of ‘1’.
Father and Colin died instantly when their passenger aircraft crashed early in the morning of the 31st January, 1945 on Spring Plains Station at Mia Mia, near Redesdale, Victoria. Fred was aged 50 years 9 months and Colin 17 years and 2 months. Details of this accident as reported in the Melbourne Argus are on file.
The information and images above have been provided by Bryan Kerr and have been published with permission.
KERR -Killed in plane crash, January 31 Frederick. B.M.E. (1st A.I.F.). beloved youngest son of Mrs A. Kerr Howie street Glen Iris and loved brother of Albert, Harry (1st A.I.F.), Robert and Will (1st A.I.F. deceased), aged 50 years: Also killed at the same time, Colin, beloved second son of the late Frederick, aged 17 years. In the midst of life we are in death.
KERR- Accidentally killed in aeroplane crash. Frederick and Colin, dearly loved son and grandson of Amy I. Kerr, 9 Howie-street Glen Iris. Peace, perfect peace.
KERR- Accidentally killed in aeroplane crash, Frederick and Colin, dearly loved brother and nephew of Robert W. Kerr and Alma G Kerr, uncle and cousin of Max and Dorothy 76 Gillies-street, Fairfield.
KERR – Accidentally killed in aeroplane crash, Frederick and Colin, friend of Nellie Mullin, sister of Mrs Kerr, 76 Gillies-street Fairfield.
Family Notices (1945, February 2). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved January 22, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206866347
KERR. – On January 31 (result of plane accident), Frederick Thomas and Colin Robert, dearly beloved husband and son of Rhoda, of 215 Wills street. Broken Hill, and beloved father of John (R.A.A.F.) and Bryan, and loving son-in-law and grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Wiltshire, of Thornbury. – At rest.
Family Notices (1945, February 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 15. Retrieved January 22, 2019, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1099085