Adendum to 'Ballynamony to Boulder' Willis Family History

ADENDUM TO PAGE 11 ‘Ballynamony to Boulder’.
Robert Willis d. 19-4-1887 and buried in Ballinamore cemetery with his wife Joanna Willis (nee O’Connor) {AKA Jane Frances Willis} died 15th April 1858 age 42 years.
Headstone erected by daughter ‘Maggie’. CLICK on thumbnail to enlarge
Church of Ireland Ballinamore Leitrim IE 
(Gray & Colgreavy Graves) Cloone Cemetery (Both names relate to family of Edward Willis's wife)
  Willis Inn Mohill Leitrim IE
     Kilteevan Church & National School.

ADENDUM TO PAGE 69 ‘Ballynamony to Boulder’
Volunteer Fire Brigades ....... Henry Edwin (‘H’) Kerr wrote :
After returning from France in 1918 with a serious leg wound W G {Bill}Kerr recovered completely to compete in Volunteer Fire Brigade competitions and was mentor to the Norseman brigade for many years.
Norseman Brigade first won the State Title in 1920 at Fremantle (Fremantle Oval). In 1921 Norseman dead heated with Kellerberrin at the State Champions at a Demo held at Northam and competed in the State Championships held at Geraldton in 1922. I have see a team photo of this team held at the present Norseman Fire Brigade Complex and it shows my dad, Bill Kerr, his brother Bob Kerr, Emil Nulsen and others, Emil Nulsen became later well known as a publican at the Salmon Gums Hotel and also a State Parliamentarian.
It appears the Norseman V.F.B. went into recess about 1925-1926. When a Volunteer Brigade goes into recess for any length of time or disbands, any possessions of the Brigade (trophies, cash, reel and associated equipment) become the property of the controlling body ( W.A.F.B.B.). Dad (Bill Kerr) must have realised this, because he was instrumental in hiding trophies, reel and equipment, in the cellar of Scholey’s Hotel.
The W.A.F.B.Board made inquiries endeavouring to find these possessions of the Norseman Brigade, but ran up against a dead end. The decision by Bill Kerr was vital to the reestablishment of the Norseman Brigade in later years.
Their running Reel first came to WA in 1903, with a visiting Brigade from Eaglehawk Victoria. It was the custom for visiting Brigades in those days to finance their return journey by the sale their competition equipment, particularly Reels, as they were hard to procure in WA. The Norseman Brigade still maintains this historic, 100 years old, piece of equipment in good condition and it could, if necessary, remarkably be used in competition today. Norseman Teams used this Reel when they won 6 State championships in the 1950’s and 1967. When Bill Kerr relocated his family from Salmon Gums to Norseman in1934, he set about reforming the Norseman Volunteer Fire Brigade. As outlined earlier in this story, he had no problems procuring Competition Gear as it had only to be retrieved from the cellar of Scholey’s Hotel.
The 1939 war decimated the Norseman Brigade as 90% of the membership enlisted in1939, 1940, 1941 etc. However Bill decided “youth” was the solution so he promptly set about recruiting, taking mostly apprentices at local mining projects, his reasoning being, that at least they would be available to the team for 5 years, as this was the term of apprenticeships in those days. This strategy was to prove fruitful as Norseman won six WA State Championships in 1951, 1952, 1953, 1958, 1959 and 1967. Sadly Bill passed away in September 1967. I was to coached Norseman from 1967 to 1986, however without championship success.
Children of Bill Kerr who have or had involvement with the Volunteer Fire Brigade movement include: Harry E (H) Kerr (Trafalgar, Norseman and Esperance, still active in this area with 58 years of Service for which he has been awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal), Arthur (Dick) with Norseman Brigade. Walter with the Norseman Brigade, Norman with the Norseman Brigade. Grandson William (son of H) is also a member of Norseman Brigade, so three generations have or are Volunteer Firefighters. Nephews who have also been members of the Norseman Brigade.: Les Kerr (son of HC Kerr), Keith and Noel Wilson (sons of Florence Wilson who was sister of Adeline Kerr), Bob and Paddy Kerr (sons of Bill’s brother Bob), Eric Meacock (son of Bill’s sister Olive).
Bill Kerr, Henry (H) Kerr, Paddy Kerr and William Kerr are Life Members of the Norseman Volunteer Fire Brigade.
During the 1950 and 1960’s Norseman Brigade competed in the Victorian championships in Bendigo (twice), Ballarat, Geelong City, Warrnambool, and Dandenong. Whilst not winning any aggregates they were successful in events and created a Record in one particular run. The Norseman Brigade has had two Champion Firemen over the years namely, Kevin Cottrill and Olys Kowal. The Team has over the years held records in most events however modern running conditions have now seen these records surpassed. For example the change of the running surfaces from gravel and ash to grass and now bitumen.
As can been seen from the foregoing William George Kerr has left an Indelible Mark on the Volunteer Fire Brigade Movement in Western Australian and we his descendants are proud indeed of his involvement and achievements.
Australasian Champion Team Bendigo 1950

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