Alexander John Henry Kerr
Ernest Shackleton 1921 - 1922
The Endurance Expedition
Alexander Kerr was a quiet
man, capable and dependable in his job. Until the stowaway Blackborow
was discovered, was the youngest member of the Endurance crew, being
just 21 years old on leaving England.
He got on particularly well
with the 1st Engineer Rickinson, the two being similar in height,
temperament and interests, the two men shared a cubicle on the ship.
He was born in Ilford,
Essex, the son of a ship's master and joined the Royal navy
directly from school. He passed his engineering exams and had
worked on oil tank steam ships before joining Shackleton's expedition.
On return to England,
like several of the other men, Kerr married his sweetheart Lillian
within a few months and they settled in East Ham, London. He
re-joined the Royal Navy and worked on mine-sweepers in Northern
Russia for the duration of the war, afterwards moving with Lillian
to his birthplace of Ilford, Essex. They had two children, Jack
in 1918 and Eileen in 1920.
He was invited by Shackleton
like many on the Endurance expedition to go South once again
on the Quest. Kerr accepted the position of First Engineer,
though the expedition ended with the death of Shackleton at
On return to England,
he joined the Merchant Navy and worked on tug boats in and around
the Port of London which avoided the long periods away from
home of deep sea voyages. He retired from the sea in 1934 setting
himself up in business in Ilford as a wholesaler. He was a founder
member of the British Antarctic Club.
Kerr died on Friday
4th December 1964 in hospital in London. It was the year of
the 50th reunion of the expedition.
to Robert Clark in Shackleton's
We walk up to them, talking
loudly and assuming a threatening aspect. Notwithstanding
our bad manners, the three birds turn towards us, bowing
ceremoniously. Then, after a closer inspection, they conclude
that we are undesirable acquaintances and make off across
the floe. We head them off and finally shepherd them close
to the ship, where the frenzied barking of the dogs so frightens
them that they make a determined effort to break through
the line. We seize them. One bird of philosophic mien goes
quietly, led by one flipper. The others show fight, but
all are imprisoned in an igloo for the night. . . . In the
afternoon we see five emperors in the western lead and capture
one. Kerr and Cheetham
fight a valiant action with two large birds. Kerr rushes
at one, seizes it, and is promptly knocked down by the angered
penguin, which jumps on his chest before retiring. Cheetham
comes to Kerr's
assistance; and between them they seize another penguin,
bind his bill and lead him, muttering muffled protests,
to the ship like an inebriated old man between two policemen.
He weighs 85 lbs., or 5 lbs. less than the heaviest emperor
captured previously. Kerr
and Cheetham insist that he is nothing to the big fellow
who escaped them.
a.m. Hurley and Hudson left for the old camp in order to
bring some additional dog-pemmican, since there were no
seals to be found near us. Then, as the weather cleared,
Worsley and I made a prospect to the west and tried to find
a practicable road. A large floe offered a fairly good road
for at least another mile to the north-west, and we went
back prepared for another move. The weather cleared a little,
and after lunch we struck camp. I took Rickenson,
Kerr, Wordie, and Hudson
as a breakdown gang to pioneer a path among the pressure-ridges.
Five dog teams followed. Wild's and Hurley's teams
were hitched on to the cutter and they started off in splendid
style. They needed to be helped only once; indeed fourteen
dogs did as well or even better than eighteen men. The ice
was moving beneath and around us as we worked towards the
big floe, and where this floe met the smaller ones there
was a mass of pressed-up ice, still in motion, with water
between the ridges. But it is wonderful what a dozen men
can do with picks and shovels. We could cut a road through
a pressure-ridge about 14 ft. high in ten minutes and leave
a smooth, or comparatively smooth, path for the sledges
was soon fitted, made by Kerr
out of the tin lining of one of the biscuit-cases, and passed
through a close-fitting tin grummet sewn into the canvas
of the roof just between the keels of the two boats, and
the smoke nuisance was soon a thing of the past. Later on,
another old oil-drum was made to surround this chimney,
so that two pots could be cooked at once on the one stove.
Those whose billets were near the stove suffered from the
effects of the local thaw caused by its heat, but they were
repaid by being able to warm up portions of steak and hooshes
left over from previous meals, and even to warm up those
of the less fortunate ones, for a consideration. This consisted
generally of part of the hoosh or one or two pieces of sugar.
later on, one writes: "Now that Wild's window allows
a shaft of light to enter our hut, one can begin to ‘see'
things inside. Previously one relied upon one's sense
of touch, assisted by the remarks from those whose faces
were inadvertently trodden on, to guide one to the door.
Looking down in the semi-darkness to the far end, one observes
two very small smoky flares that dimly illuminate a row
of five, endeavouring to make time pass by reading or argument.
These are Macklin, Kerr,
Wordie, Hudson, and Blackborow—the last two being invalids.
Clark, Robert S.
Green, Charles J.
How, Walter E.
Hudson, Hubert T.
Hurley, James F. (Frank)
Hussey, Leonard D. A.
James, Reginald W.
Kerr, A. J.
Macklin, Dr. Alexander
Marston, George E.
McIlroy, Dr. James A.
Motor Expert and Storekeeper
Shackleton, Ernest H.
Wordie, James M.