125. L R Berryman

Lewis Richard BERRYMAN (1081)
4 Light Horse Regiment  KiA 25/6/1917

Lewis Berryman has his name recorded on the Alberton Shire Soldiers’ Memorial but not on the Shire of Alberton Roll of Honor. The contradiction is probably explained by the fact that when he enlisted the family was living at Callignee – near Traralgon – and indeed he enlisted in Traralgon. Also, when the father completed the information for the (National) Roll of Honour, he gave Callignee as the location with which his son was ‘chiefly connected’. However, before the family moved to Callignee, the father had been farming at Blackwarry. The name of the property was “Chilwell Valley”. The names of the 2 Berryman brothers — there was a brother Alfred Samuel Berryman who also enlisted – are included on the Blackwarry/Kjergaard Roll of Honor.

Lewis Berryman was obviously well known in the local area (Blackwarry). When his death was written up in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 11/7/17, the report noted that he was … familiarly known to a large circle of friends as “Lew” that he … was a lad of very high character and sterling worth and that … in the social life of the district he took an active part. He was equally well-known in Callignee and the local paper at Traralgon – Traralgon Record – when reporting his death, wrote (3/7/17) that he was … the first of our boys who have fallen in the Holy Land [He was killed in Palestine].

Lewis Berryman was born in Ballarat. As indicated, he enlisted at Traralgon on 13/1/15. He joined as reinforcements for 4 Light Horse Regiment. He was 30 yo and single. He gave his occupation on enlistment as laborer but, presumably, he was working on the family farm, at least in part. He gave his father – Samuel Berryman – as next-of-kin. His religion was listed as Methodist.

Trooper Berryman’s group of reinforcements for 4 LHR embarked from Melbourne for Egypt on 10/8/15 and in late October they joined the regiment on the Gallipoli Peninsula for the closing weeks of the fighting.

Following the Gallipoli campaign, he remained in Egypt with 4 LHR. In early October 1916 he was reported as ‘dangerously ill’ – ‘pyrexia’ – and his father was advised by telegram (5/10/16). He was designated ‘out of danger’ on 9/10/16. But he was then (14/10/16) diagnosed with orchitis and remained in hospital for a month.

Trooper Berryman was promoted to lance corporal in March 1917. Three months later was killed in action (25/6/17).

The war diary of 4 LHR indicates that on the day the regiment was conducting extensive patrols out from Tel-El-Fara to probe the Turkish strength and gain intelligence on fortifications and water supplies. Late in the afternoon there was artillery fire from the Turkish side and the diary specifically records 2 casualties in the vicinity of Hill 510: ‘one killed and one dangerously wounded’. L/Cpl Berryman was the one killed. His body was recovered and taken back to Tel-El-Fara and buried in a clearly marked grave in the cemetery at Sheikh-Nuran. Chaplain W J Dunbar conducted the funeral service. His final resting place was Beersheba War Cemetery (Israel).

There is a Red Cross file which suggests that both Berryman and Moore -the trooper ‘dangerously wounded’ – were forward of their squad undertaking observation duties when they were targeted by the Turkish artillery.

The family was advised of the death by cable dated 27/6/17 – just two days later – and the formal report of death was dated 20/7/17. As indicated, news of the death was reported in the local papers in early July .

The package of personal effects was despatched in late August 1917. The list of personal items was extensive: Wallet cont. photos, wristwatch & strap, money belt, Regt’l colours, Diary, Notebook, mirror, 2 knives, Holdall cont. strop, shaving soap, brush & 4 coins, Soap box, 2 mufflers, Housewife, Suit pyjamas, Cigarette lighter, 2 hrs. gloves, sovereign purse & pencil, Key chain, Sun goggles, Lanoline, Testament, 6 Hdk’fs, pr. socks, 2 spoons, Badges, buttons, coins & pieces of stone, 2 Arabic Books, Correspondence, 1 brass bowl, 1 towel, Postcards, photos, etc. diary.

L/Cpl Berryman’s file is one of the very few that contains no family correspondence. However there are papers in the official file that throw light on a significant family issue that came to light a couple of years after the war. It emerged because of the detailed arrangements that covered the distribution of deceased soldiers’ medals.

Basically, Lance Corporal Berryman’s father would have expected, as next of kin, to receive his son’s war medals. However, official correspondence in August 1920 between Base Records and the Department of Defence reveals that in the process of ensuring that the medals were distributed in accordance with the legislation it had emerged that there was an ‘ex-nuptial’ son. The son was already receiving a pension – 20/- per fortnight – against his father, L/Cpl Berryman.

The son was born in Western Australia on 11/4/1916, exactly eight months after Trooper Berryman embarked for Egypt. He was just over one year old when his father was killed. The baby was described as the ex nuptial child of the late Lewis Richard Berryman. It is not clear from the file if the son was being cared for by his natural mother or a step mother. However, what was clear was that L/Cpl Berryman’s father did not know of the child’s existence:

The mother desires that knowledge of these facts be kept from the father of the deceased, who is shown as n.o.k. & who is ignorant of his grandson’s existence.

The decision of the Defence Department was to divide the various decorations – medals, memorial scroll and memorial plaque – between L/Cpl Berryman’s father as next-of-kin and the ‘ex-nuptial’ son. The medals for the boy were handed over to the (step) mother who was required to sign a declaration … to preserve with due care in trust for (master) … Berryman, any War medals or other items given into my custody on account of the service rendered by the late No. 1081 Lance Corporal L. R. Berryman, 4th Light Horse Regiment, Australian Imperial Force…

The decision was conveyed to L/Cpl Berryman’s father in January 1921. Obviously, there was no way of conveying the decision without drawing attention to the existence of the child. The actual letter the father received is worth quoting in full. If this was in fact the first time that the father learned of his grandson’s existence then the letter stands as a classic of bureaucratic understatement. However it is hard to believe that knowledge of what was proposed in terms of the medal distribution had not prompted family members, or others, to advise the father before he received official advice. At the same time, the letter reveals no details whatsoever about the ‘ex-nuptial son’, other than his existence.

It is proposed to hand over a proportion of the war medals, etc., of your son, the late No. 1081 Lance Corporal L.R. Berryman, 4th Light Horse Regiment, in trust for his ex-nuptial son to whom a pension has been granted by the Department. The distribution is proposed on the following lines:-
(a) The 1914/1915 Star, Victory medal and Memorial Scroll to go to the deceased’s son,
(b) The British War Medal with Clasps, Memorial Plaque and brochure “Where the Australians Rest” to yourself.
Presumably you have no objections to the above procedure.
I shall be glad to hear from you at your earliest convenience.

There is no record of any reply from the father. However the file does indicate that this proposal is how the medals etc were finally distributed

References

 

Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative

Traralgon Record

National Archives file for BERRYMAN Lewis Richard 1081
Roll of Honour: Lewis Richard Berryman
First World War Embarkation Rolls: Lewis Richard Berryman
Red Cross Wounded and Missing file: Lewis Richard Berryman

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