BERRY, Joseph
(Service number 47110)

First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Rifleman


Date 28 November 1886 Place of Birth Kirkby Malham, Yorkshire, England

Enlistment Information

Date 26 January 1917 Age 30 years 2 months
Address at Enlistment C/o Mr Knowles, Geraldine
Occupation Ploughman
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs Alice BERRY (mother), Airton, Bellbusk, Yorkshire, England. Mrs Margaret Wallace (sister), 347 Armagh Street, Christchurch.
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 feet 9 inches. Weight 156 lbs. Chest measurement 36-39½ inches. Complexion fair. Eyes blue. Hair light brown. Eyes both 6/6. Hearing normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated (left arm). Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Fit. A.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 25th Reinforcements, G Company
Date 26 April 1917
Transport Turakina
Embarked From Wellington Destination Plymouth, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 2nd Battalion

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European (Somme)
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations


Date 26 March 1918 Age 32 years
Place of Death Somme, France
Cause Killed in action
Notices Craven Herald, Kirkby Malham, Yorkshire, 26 April 1918
Memorial or Cemetery Sucrerie Military Cemetery, Colincamps, Somme, France
Memorial Reference I. J. 54.
New Zealand Memorials Timaru Memorial Wall; Geraldine War Memorial; Airton (Yorkshire) Methodist Church Memorial Plaque; St Michael’s Church, Kirby Malham (Yorkshire) Memorial Plaque; Malhamdale Roll of Honour, Kirkby Malham

Biographical Notes

Joseph Berry was the elder son of John and Alice (née Timms) Berry, of Airton, Bell Busk, Leeds, England. Born on 28 November 1886 at Kirkby Malham, Yorkshire, he was a 4-year-old at home in Kirkby Malham, Yorkshire, in 1891. He was a ‘boy domestic” at Amerdale House, Arncliffe, Yorks in 1901. Joseph came to New Zealand about 1909-1910. He was a farm labourer at Te Moana, Geraldine in 1911. Little would he have envisaged his fate. At Te Moana in 1916 he was listed on the Reserve Rolls. Joseph Berry, a ploughman at Te Moana, was drawn in the first military ballot for No. 10 (South Canterbury) recruiting district in November 1916. On enlistment he named his mother as next-of-kin – Mrs Alice Berry, Airton, Bellbusk, Yorkshire, England. He also named his sister, Mrs Margaret Wallace, 39 Torrance Street, Addington, Christchurch. Joseph’s sister Margaret, who in 1901 had been a twelve-year old cotton mill worker, had come to New Zealand and married Andrew Robertson Hamilton Wallace in 1913. His younger brother, Thomas David Berry, also settled in New Zealand, marrying Florence Ellen Shepherd in 1915.

Joseph was a ploughman for R. Richards, Four Peaks, Geraldine, and gave his address as care of Mr Knowles, Geraldine. Single and of Church of England affiliation, he stood at 5 feet 9 inches, weighed 156 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 36-39½ inches, His complexion was fair, his eyes blue, and his hair light brown. His sight, hearing, heart and lungs were all normal, his limbs and chest well formed. Vaccinated and free of illnesses, diseases, slight defects and fits, he was in good bodily and mental health, and was assessed as Fit, Class A. Having enlisted on 26 January 1917 at Timaru, Private J. Berry left with the Temuka men for camp at Trentham, where he was posted to G Company on 13 February.

Before leaving for Trentham, J. Berry and his comrades in the 25th Reinforcements were treated to a great farewell, in fact two for Joseph. On 13 February the Temuka, Geraldine and Orari men were given a warm send-off at Temuka. They were treated to afternoon tea – “a bountiful spread”. A few short speeches were delivered. We have got to admit that at the present time our nation is in trouble, and those boys are going to help us out, said the chairman of the Temuka Patriotic Entertainment Committee. They are going to fight side by side with the boys who have gone 12 or 13 months ago, help them to finish the job, and bring them back. We are proud to have such boys able and willing to go. Major Kennedy, who had brought a number of Geraldine boys with him, noted that there were very few Geraldine men in the names drawn in the ballot. “The fact was that there were very few men there now liable to be drawn, they had stood up to it so manfully.” He wished them health and prosperity at the front, and hoped they would be spared to come back again. One of the departing soldiers, who were cheered by about a thousand persons at the railway station, was J. Berry (Geraldine).

The Geraldine district farewell had been held the evening before. The Drill Hall was decorated, a varied and extensive musical programme was presented, supper was provided, and dancing brought the evening to a close. The chairman congratulated the men who were going out to fight for their Empire, and “reminded them they were going to fight with those who had right loyally done their duty. The men who had been drawn in the ballot had accepted the verdict in a right spirit, and were prepared to do their duty like the rest had, and this said a great deal for New Zealand.” Among the recruits invited to the platform to receive a wristlet watch provided by the Geraldine people was J. Berry. Each man was also given a parcel of soldiers’ comforts, on behalf of the ladies of the district. As the men marched back to their places in the hall, the Band struck up “Soldiers of the King,” and the men were accorded three rousing cheers.

It was as rifleman that he embarked at Wellington per the “Turakina” on 26 April 1917, with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 25th Reinforcements, G Company. Disembarking at Devonport, he marched in to Sling on 20 July and proceeded overseas from Brocton on 14 October, joining his battalion with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on eleven days later. On 26 March 1918 in the Field at the Somme, France, Rifleman Joseph Berry was killed in action. He was buried in Sucrerie Military Cemetery at Colincamps, France. From November 1918, the name of Private J. Berry appeared regularly in the Temuka Leader Roll of Honour (Geraldine List).

Advice re Joseph’s medals – British War Medal and Victory Medal - was authorised to his father, Mr J. Berry, Airton, Bell Bark, Leeds. The scroll and memorial plaque were sent to his mother in 1921. His will, dated 18 April 1917, had been deposited with the Public Trustee at Trentham. He left £60 to his sister Margaret Wallace for the benefit of her children and £30 to his brother Tom Berry for the benefit of his child. The residue of his estate was bequeathed to his Father John Berry and his Mother Alice Berry. Joseph had saved, leaving a total of £372.8. from Cash in Post Office Savings Bank, a Life Policy, Love & dead stock, and Book Debts. Margaret and Andrew Wallace, who had three sons, were cremated at Timaru. Tom and Florence Berry had one son, Isaac Shepherd Thomas, who died in 1923 at the age of seven. T. D. and F. E. Berry inserted an In Memoriam notice in the newspaper on 26 March 1919, in loving memory of their brother and brother-in-law, Rifleman Joseph Berry - “To memory ever dear.” Thomas David Berry had also been listed on the Reserve Rolls.

Joseph Berry is honoured on the Timaru Memorial Wall and the Geraldine War Memorial. He is remembered, too, in his native Yorkshire. His name is one of six beneath the inscription “In Grateful Memory of the brave men of this district who gave their lives in the cause of freedom in the Great War 1914/1918” on the Airton Methodist Church brass plaque which is now sited in Kirkby Malham St Michael’s Church. Pte. Joseph Berry, New Zealand Rifles, is the first of five names recorded on the St Michael’s Church, Kirkby Malham memorial beneath the inscription “Let all remember these men of Malhamdale who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-1918” and above the words “Live thou for England: We for England died”. Pte. Joseph Berry’s name is also recorded on the much larger wooden Malhamdale Roll of Honour Great War 1914-1918, which is in the Kirkby Malham Church Hall.

On Anzac Day 1922 an exceptionally large number of people (estimated at 1500) gathered to attend the united service and to witness the unveiling ceremony of the memorial cross erected in grateful memory of the men of the Geraldine district who fell in the war. Following a march down Talbot Street, a very beautiful commenced with the Funeral March. Those gathered then joined the choir in singing the hymn “O God Our Help in Ages Past”. The Mayor, Mr E. Hardcastle, exhorted those gathered: “Let it be your duty then, so far as it lies in your power, to set the example of observing Anzac Day as not only sacred to the memory of the fallen, but one of thankful recognition of the great service they and their comrades did in the Great War to maintain your freedom and Liberty.” Sacred music, hymns, scripture reading, prayers, an address by the vicar, the organist’s playing of the “Dead March in Saul”, the bugler’s sounding of “The Last Post”, and a very touching rendition of the aria “”I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” all complemented the service. Immediately following the service the focus moved to the memorial – in the shape of a Celtic Cross and erected in honour of the soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice. Again an immense crowd assembled. The Mayor observed that all through the British Empire and in the Allied Countries there was the same tribute being paid to the memory of the fallen as that in Geraldine. The committee responsible for erecting the memorial decided that the names appearing on the cross should be those of men who gave their lives in the Great War and who had enlisted in the Geraldine and Mount Peel Ridings of the County, or whose next of kin resided in those districts. The men honoured on that day had left a “legacy of freedom, peace and plenty,” said Mr W. F. Evans of Temuka. After the singing of the National Anthem, Mr T. D. Burnett, M.P., said that the British Empire had always stood for liberty and justice, and he then unveiled the cross. A prayer of dedication was offered, a hymn was sung, the Territorials saluted and “The Last Post” was sounded. After an interval of silence, a piper played a lament and wreaths were placed around the memorial. The name of J. Berry is recorded along with many familiar names and accompanied by the inscription: “In Grateful Memory of the Men of the Geraldine District who fell in the Great War, 1914-1918. These gave up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that their names be not forgotten.”

Two tributes to Rifleman Joseph Berry are reproduced here. “We regret to report the death of Pte. Joseph Berry, of the 2nd Division New Zealand Rifle Regiment. Private Berry was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph [John] Berry, of Daisy Mount, Airton, who received the sad news by a wire which stated that he had been killed while in action in France, on March 26thy. Over nine years ago Pte. Berry went out to New Zealand. He returned a fine specimen of what our Colonies have sent to aid the Old Country in the cause of freedom. Much sympathy is felt throughout the district for the bereaved family.” (Craven Herald, 26 April 1918.) “Airton Soldier’s Death. We deeply regret to have to report the death of Pte. Joseph Berry, of the New Zealand Riflemen, who was killed in action on March 26th, while serving in France. Pte. Berry, who was 30 years of age, left Airton for New Zealand over nine years ago. He was a fine young man, a credit both to the colony and the old country. The sad intelligence was conveyed to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Berry, Daisy Mount, Airton, by wire. Much sympathy is felt in the village and neighbourhood for the bereaved family.” (West Yorkshire Pioneer, 26 April 1918.) (www.kirkbymalham .info/KMI/malhamdale/servicemen/jberry). A photo of Rifleman Joseph Berry can be found on Craven’s Part in the Great War website (


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [31 October 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5520 0014267) [24 September 2013]; 1891 & 1901 census UK ( [31 October 2013]; CWGC [01 November 2013]; Craven Herald Article, 26 April 1918 [x 2], West Yorkshire Pioneer, 26 April 1918 (www.kirkbymalham .info/KMI/malhamdale/servicemen/jberry - Google search) [01 November 2013]; Free BDM [20 July 2015 & 28 July 2021]; Probate record (Archives NZ/Family Search) [20 August 2014]; NZ Electoral Rolls (; Timaru Herald, 25 November 1916, 12 February 1917, 28 April 1922, Temuka Leader, 15 February 1917, 26 November 1918, Star, 19 April 1918, 27 April 1922, NZ Times, 19 April 1918, Sun, 26 March 1919, Press, 27 April 1922 (Papers Past) [14 July 2015; 07 February 2018; 30 April 2018; 27 May 2020; 21 & 27 July 2021]; Image of Airton Methodist Church Memorial Plaque (Airton Methodist Church – Airedale & Wharfedale Family History Society ( - Airedale & Wharfedale Family History Society_ [29 July 2021]; Images of St Michael’s Church, Kirkby Malham & Malhamdale Roll of Honour (KIRKBY MALHAM, YORKSHIRE | War Memorial | Craven's Part in The Great War ( – Craven’s Part in the Great War) [29 July 2021]

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