Vimy gunner's dog tags found in French garden 100 years after death
Man in France dug up identification tags in his garden
Cynthia Kerr's family has always believed her great uncle Harold's identification discs, often referred to as dog tags, were lost after he died in battle on June 26, 1917, near Amiens, France.
But the former Cambridge, Ont., resident never gave up hope of learning more about her uncle and every so often, she'd Google different terms to see if should could bring up information about Canadian Gunner Harold Clifford Kerr.
- 'Canadians take Vimy Ridge': A soldier's diaries recount battle preparations and horrors of war
- 100 years later: Leaders pay homage to fallen soldiers at Vimy Ridge
- Waterloo students felt 'overwhelming pride' at Vimy Ridge ceremonies
On April 9, the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, she tried again.
"It was just this really dumb, Google search thing and then all of a sudden, I was screaming," Kerr told CBC News from her home in Australia.
She discovered her uncle's name on a French online forum. A man in France said he had been digging in his garden near Amiens and had found 17 different ID tags.
Harold Kerr's was among them.
A photo of her uncle also appeared on the screen.
"When the guy found the 17 tags, he looked up every single number and out of all of those tags, the only person that has a photograph up on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial is my great uncle," Kerr said.
'I do this every year for Harold'
The man went and took a photo of her uncle's grave and Kerr said she was surprised to see it decorated with a flag and a picture.
When the man who found the dog tags posted to the forum saying it was nice to see someone had decorated the grave, another man said, "It's me. I do this every year for Harold," Kerr said.
"They've kind of taken him under their wing," Kerr said of those keeping watch over her uncle's grave.
Over the next week, Kerr has had late nights with numerous phone calls and emails with the people in France about her uncle.
The man who decorates the grave has shown her many pictures of the area.
100th anniversary of his death
Harold Kerr, the son of Robert and Mary Kerr of Cookshire, Que., was 25 when he died from wounds from a shell while fighting. His body lies in the Aix-Noulette Communal Cemetery.
Kerr is now planning a trip to France in June to visit his grave.
"I wasn't there for Vimy Ridge, but it seems more appropriate that I go this year," she said.
"As far as I know, I could be the only family member that has ever gone to his grave."
Kerr said another plot twist to this story is the question of who uploaded the photos of her uncle to the virtual war memorial.
"Somebody out there in the family, a descendant, has a Kerr family photo album and they might also have his other medals, and I don't know who that is," she said.