Part of Prairie Ephemera Collection
Although several captions list the individual pictured as "self" or "myself," the creator of the album does not appear to be explicitly identified. Nonetheless, several pieces of ephemera in the album - including passes and a voucher for a railway ticket - refer to a S.W. Kerley. One item carrying Mr. Kerley's name is accompanied by the caption "My last ration book in Blighty." Internal references suggest that the soldier served with the 31st Battalion, Alberta Regiment, and a S.W. Kerley is included in the nominal roll. For more information on the Regiment, please see its entry in the Canadian Great War Project Web site (available online at http://www.canadiangreatwarproject.com/Regimental/31stBattalion.asp [accessed on 10 December 2018]).
The album documents the experiences of an Alberta soldier during World War I from recruitment to his return from Europe. The majority of photographs capture Mr. Kerley and his fellow soldiers in a variety of settings from training in Alberta to the battlefields of Europe. The album contains portraits of soldiers taken in Calgary, Medicine Hat, Edmonton, Bramshott, England, as well as in Germany and Belgium. Many of the soldiers are identified at least by surname and, in some cases, more fully. There are also images of major Canadian battlefields such as Arras-Cambrai Road, Ypres, Passchendaele, and Vimy Ridge.
The 31st Battalion did not return to Canada until May of 1919, remaining in Germany to serve as part of the occupying forces. The album also documents this phase of the war, containing four photographs dated January 1919 with the accompanying captions "Outpost duty in Germany." Several pieces of ephemera also appear to be from Mr. Kerley's service during the occupation. These include the address of a German family, laundry lists, and a theatre programme from Namur, Belgium, dated 4 March 1919.
As with the photographs and postcards, the printed ephemera document many aspects of Mr. Kerley's military service. The album contains materials from the ship voyages to and from Europe, including menus, a concert programme, and a card listing berth and mess information. There is also a card from the Canadian Pacific Railway for soldiers travelling in Canada following repatriation.
Mr. Kerley also collected a number of miscellaneous souvenirs from his time in Europe, including currency and an identity card used by French and Belgian workers during the German occupation. Documents specifically related to his military service - such as a menu from a 1917 Christmas dinner, a programme from the Canadian Corps Championship (a multi-sport athletic competition held on 1 July 1918), and German and Canadian field-letter cards - are also present.
In a few cases, captions indicate the provenance of individual items, some of which appear to have been taken as souvenirs of combat. Several photographs are listed as having been found on battlefields. For example, three photographs are accompanied by these captions:
• “German N.C.O.’s found on an N.C.O. during the Amiens Drive, Aug.-1918”
• “’A German Fraulein’ found on a Hun soldier found at Neuville Vitasse”
• “Found this photo laying beside this soldier’s body after our capture of Rosiers on the Somme – 1918 Aug.”