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This article was researched, written and shared by Ian Berry, the Great grandson of Private David R Berry.
David Rothwell Berry was born on the 26th December 1879 at 13 Kersley Green the first child of James Taylor Berry and Eliza Berry (formerly Mann).
“…his father James Taylor Berry died in a pit accident in Kearsley when he fell from the beam of his engine and was struck by the piston and was tragically found by his daughter (David’s sister Martha) when she took him his supper” – Ian Berry.
The copy of the birth certificate obtained from Bolton Registrars office indicates the fathers name as just James Berry, so there is no mention of Taylor at this point.
The 1881 and 1891 Census records show as living at 15 Kersley Green, Kersley, whilst the 1901 Census shows David aged 21, living with the family at 2 Tong Street Kersley.
In terms of employment, David is known to have been a collier, and that his father James was an engine minder in a colliery before being killed in an accident in May 1907.
Although unconfirmed, it is widely believed that the colliery in which they were employed was Spindle Point in Kearsley, which was literally over the road from where they were living in the early 1900s.
David Rothwell, his wife Ellen (Nellie), their children Albert (b 1904), David (b 1906) and James (b 1908) Alice (b 1910) were known to have lived at 281 Manchester Road Kearsley, although tragically David died aged 10 months and James died aged 22 months.
29564 Private David Rothwell Berry
8th Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
The service records of those men enlisted during the First World War are held at The National Archives in Kew, London, however enemy bombing in the Second World War destroyed 60% of the records held, when they were originally stored in Woolwich. I have searched the records and can find no service history for David, and can only therefore assume that his were part of those which have been lost.
During the period of World War One, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was increased in size to 21 Battalions from its pre war establishment of two regular, one reserve and seven territorial battalions. David was part of the 3rd/5th Training Battalion but transferred to 8th Battalion which was formed at the headquarters of the Regiment in Preston in September 1914. This new Battalion was part of the third of Kitcheners New Armies, as was formed up on Salisbury Plain under the command of 74th Brigade, 25th Division. In December 1914 the Battalion moved into billets in Boscombe Down, and in Jan 1915 were moved to Bournemouth. March 1915 they moved back to Boscombe, and in May moved to Romsey. June 1915 saw them in Aldershot undergoing final training before being posted to France.
On the 24th September 1915 the advance party of Transport and Machine Gun section embarked at Southampton on route to Harve France. They were followed on the 6th Oct 1915 by the remainder of the Battalion from Folkstone and were held first in Le-Bizet Belgium.
On arrival in theatre they were assigned to 7th Brigade 25th Division, where they underwent training in trench warfare and assisted in the building of new communication trenches in the area of Ovillers.
David is known to have enlisted in Farnworth in 1915, near to his birth place of Kearsley where he lived with his family and was employed as a coal miner. He is believed to have departed for France in July 1916.
The following information is taken from the hand written Regimental diaries of 8 Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment held at The National Archives, record set WO95 / 2243 read and noted 15th August 2009. I discovered that Officers are generally named within the diary, NCOs occasionally and if involved in gallant events, but that other ranks are very rarely mentioned by name unless they are being decorated for an act of bravery.
Date Regimental Diary or Intelligence Summary
8 Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
25th Division 7th Brigade
5 -16 Attacks were made northwards towards Ovillers by the 7th and 74th Brigades
Enemy showed signs of massing for a counter attack at Pozieres Wood.
Allied artillery launched a heavy bombardment causing serious loss to the enemy.
16 Bn marched to Forceville and went into billets
18 Bde moved to Beauval
20 Bde moved to Bois Du Warnimont near Authie
21-22 Bn received drafts of 60 and 90 new men
23 7th Bde relieved 86th Bde in the trenches north of the River Ancre. 8 Bn went into reserve at Englebelmer
26-27 Bn reinforced with drafts of 138 and 214 additional men.
29 Bn relieved 1st Wiltshire Regt in the trenches
31 Capt BW Fish and Sgt H Holmes made a recce to the enemy wire, leaving the trenches at 10:30 pm and returning1:50 am.
Note At the end of the month of July there is a detailed account of the recce carried out by Capt Fish and Sgt Holmes which explains the ground conditions as being wet and marshy and the wire as being impenetrable in most places but light in some. There is also a small drawing on a piece of brown paper showing the lay of the land and position of trenches in relation to the river and the railway line.
3-5 Bn remained in trenches – Enemy quiet
6 Bn relieved by 2nd Bn DLI and 25 Div relieved by 6 Div. Bn went into Div reserve at Bertrancourt.
10-17 Bde movement between Vauchelles, Puchevillers and eventually to Hedauville where the Bn bivouacked in the grounds of the Chateau.
23 Bn marched to dug-outs in the South Bluff at Black Horse Bridge close to Aveluy Wood in support of our troops in the Leipzig Salient.
24 Assault on the Hindenburg Trench by C Company in support of 3rd Worcestershire Regt.
25 A & B Coy of Bn assumed command of trench.
26 6pm – Follow up attack by D Company under Capt Cash, Lt May and Lt Copeman was made on a small portion of the Hindenburg Trench where it was believed resistance was low. The attack entered the enemy trenches but was forced to retreat under fire. Battalion losses in this engagement were 4 officers and 85 other ranks killed or missing and 3 officers and 181 other ranks wounded.
The Corps Commander Lt Gen Jacob described this minor operation as “unsuccessful but gallantly fought”, and that the defeat was “no fault of the Battalion Commander or his men”. “The Corps Commander congratulates Lt Col Marriott and his men for the spirit in which the attack was made”.
During the month of August the Bn suffered some heavy losses but were awarded several honours, not least the Victoria Cross for Lieut RBB Jones for most conspicuous bravery in leading his men.
General note, not taken from diaries -Thiepval had been captured and our troops held a line east west along the Thiepval spur / ridge.
1 -24 Bn in billets in Bouzincourt where we were given hot baths. First 3 weeks of Sept 1916 found the 25th Division at rest in the area of Abbeville but Bn moved several times within the first two weeks before arriving at Coulonvillers, where on the 23rd Sept the Bn had a Sports Day beginning at 2pm.
25 Bn moved forward to the area of Longuevillette, a distance of 13 miles
26 Bn marched to Raincheval a distance of 9 miles.
29 Bn moved to Hedaville a distance of 7 miles.
30 Bn moved into trenches to relieve the Lincolnshire Regt in sector Hessian, west of Stuff Redoubt.
1 Bn in left sector of Bde front in Hessian Trench, south west of Stuff Redoubt.
3 Bn relieved by 3rd Worcestershire Regt.
4 Supplied working and carrying parties for troops in forward area.
8 Bn relieved 10th Cheshires in Stuff Redoubt sector.
9 In appalling ground conditions a major attack was launched by 25th Division to take the northern face of Stuff Redoubt. German counter attacks were beaten off.
10 Occupying north face of Stuff Redoubt. Preparations being made for an attack on the high ground known as ‘The Mounds’ immediately north of Stuff Redoubt
12 6:45pm enemy counter attack on Stuff Redoubt which was repelled. 9:20pm second counter attack came in, which lacked the rigour of the first attack and lasted just 30 minutes.
13 Spent day cleaning the trenches and getting back into order.
14 2:46pm Bn Attack carried out by A and B Company under the command of Capt Shields, in a north west direction from the north face of Stuff Redoubt to Stuff Trench. The distance to the objective just 200 yards in order to gain footing and to obtain observation down the valley.
The attack was covered by an artillery barrage and our men kept ‘well up’ with the barrage. The objective was gained with only a few casualties, reportedly only 20 other ranks were injured and the taking of this objective allowed for observation down the Stump Road and across Grandcourt Valley.
1 enemy officer and 110 prisoners taken and passed back down the line. Bn had 1 officer wounded, 8 other ranks killed and 20 wounded.
15 Bn relieved by 2 South Lancashire Regt and marched to Bouzincourt where accommodated in tents.
19 Very bad weather conditions. Gen Sir H de la P Gough visited
20 A and B company played football against C and D company
22 Bn marched to Rubempre
23 Bn marched to Longuevillette
29 Bn moved to Bailleul
1 Bn relieved 2 Bn Gordon Highlanders in the Le Touquet sector
7 Bn relieved 3rd Worcestershire Regt in right sector of Bde front line in Essex Farm area to Cromer Pier. Trenches found to be in a very bad state. The wet weather is flooding the swampy land near the river and the trenches are acting as a drain. The Anzacs are on our right, across the river Lys.
13 Enemy active with heavy trench mortars and aerial torpedoes. Gas discharged by us by artillery bombardment. No retaliation from enemy. Relieved by 3rd Worcestershire Regt. Had baths and fitted with new respirators. Billeted in an old brick building, possibly a brewery.
14-29 Much work done on trenches and redoubts but water still high as river is rising. Supply of hot soup at night and daily changing of wet socks has helped to keep men’s feet in good order. Few cases of sickness. Enemy still active with mortars but we have no effective means of retaliation.
David’s confirmed date of death is Sunday 26th November 1916 in Horton Hospital Epsom.
Horton Hospital was originally a mental asylum and was utilised as a war hospital. The records for this period are held at the London Metropolitan Archives under reference:
H22/HT/B/26/019 Case book of male patients Mar 1902 to Jan 1935
The copy of the death certificate from the General Register Office records the death of David on the 26th November 1916 at Horton (County of London) War Hospital Epsom.
Cause of death (certified by JR Lord Lt Col RAMC) is recorded as:
- Gunshot wound right leg amputation
- Gunshot wound composite fracture right arm
- Secondary haemorrhage
David had a military funeral at St Stephen’s church, the firing party was provided by the 5th Bn. from Fletcher Street barracks.
Service No: 29564
Date of Death: 26/11/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 8th Bn.
Cemetery: KEARSLEY MOOR (ST. STEPHEN) CHURCHYARD
Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
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