Regular soldier, Acting Bombardier Arthur John Berry MM, 49th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery died of wounds on 16th July 1917. Born in Shirley in 1889, he was the third of the seven children (five sons, two daughters) born to parents Samuel, a labourer, and Esther (née Gardner) who had married in 1885.
The family moved from Shirley to Salter Street sometime between 1894 and 1897, and then to Blossomfield by 1901. They had move to “Ratcliffe”, New Road, Solihull by 1911, where they remained until at least the 1920s.
By 1911, 21-year-old Arthur had left the family home, and it seems likely that he was serving overseas with the Royal Artillery as he doesn’t seem to be on census returns in England & Wales.
Arthur’s medal index card doesn’t indicate when he first entered a Theatre of War but it seems he wasn’t entitled to a 1914 or 1914/15 Star, indicating that he didn’t serve overseas before 1916. According to St Alphege Parish Magazine, he was mentioned in despatches. He was awarded the Military Medal in the London Gazette of 9th July 1917, just ten days before his death, which was apparently a result of gas poisoning.
He is buried at Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium, and is also commemorated on Solihull war memorial. His younger brother, Frederick Ernest, known by his middle name, joined the Royal Navy in January 1918, just a few days after his eighteenth birthday. He transferred to the Royal Air Force when it was established on 1st April 1918.
If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977
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