Walter Wimble BERRY

BERRY, Walter Wimble

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 1 May 1916, Place of enlistment - Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: 3rd Pioneer Battalion
Born: "Elaine", Balaclava, Victoria, 21 December 1882
Home Town: Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria
Schooling: Scotch College, Melbourne and Geelong College, Geelong, Victoria
Occupation: Merchant
Died: Natural causes, Melbourne, Victoria, 19 August 1952, aged 69 years
Cemetery: Springvale Botanical Cemetery, Melbourne
Memorials: Geelong College WW1 Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

1 May 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Major, Officer, 3rd Pioneer Battalion, Place of enlistment - Melbourne, Victoria
6 Jun 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Major, Officer, 3rd Pioneer Battalion, Embarked on HMAT 'A62' Wandilla from Melbourne on 6th June 1916
7 Mar 1917: Transferred AIF WW1, Major, 3rd Division Headquarters, detached for duty with 3rd Division Headquarters, rejoined unit on 31st July 1917
22 May 1918: Transferred AIF WW1, Major, Australian Corps Headquarters, Detached for duty with Australian Corps Headquarters, appointed Camp Commandant (temporary) as from 1st June 1918. Reported for duty at A.I.F. Headquarters London on 21st December 1918.
8 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Major, Australian Corps Headquarters, Le Hamel - Blueprint for Victory
17 Sep 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Major, 3rd Pioneer Battalion
19 Sep 1919: Embarked AIF WW1, Major, SS Baltic, Liverpool for private passage to New York, USA and then from Vancouver, Canada in SS Niagara for return to Australia - arriving Sydney 24 December 1919, then to Melbourne.

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Biography contributed by Michael Silver

Born 21 December 1882, the eldest of four sons of Howard Wesley Berry, an international wholesale merchant, and his wife Georgina Louise Wimble of George Street, East Melbourne. Walter Wimble Berry was educated Scotch College from 1895 until 1897, and Geelong College, entering there in 1898.

He served in the Senior Cadet Battalion, and the Victorian Rifles, before being seconded to Canada from 1908 until 1914 to learn about the pork and sausage businesses for his father's company, Henry Berry & Co Pty Ltd. He married Miss Margaret Helen Thomson, daughter of William and Betsy Thomson, on 15 June 1910, and served in the 51st Infantry Battalion, Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada for six years prior to enlisting on 20 March 1916 in the AIF and being assigned to the 3rd Pioneer Battalion.

He embarked for France on HMAT A62 Wandilla on 6 June 1916 with Headquarters Company, serving there and in Belgium for some time, prior to attending a Staff course at Clare College, Cambridge late in 1917. He returned to France in March 1918 and was appointed Camp Commandant Australian Corps Headquarters at Bertangles on 1 June 1918. On 8 August 1918 he was standing next to Sir John Monash at Hamel when the barrage began early that morning, as reported by John Thomson in 'On Lips of Living Men':

'... when 4.20 arrived the boom of that barrage was just like one tremendous thump. Everything dropped at once. We were quite some distance in the rear but it was very audible, just this one thump, and it was followed by intermittent fighting, each unit carrying on its own programme. I was very moved by this, being a very great admirer of my general, and I turned to him and I said 'Sir, this is a most wonderful day for you.' He turned to me and, putting his hand on my shoulder, he said, 'No, Berry, ... it is a wonderful day for Australia, and history will bear this out.'

Major Berry arranged, in advance, for his discharge to occur at the end of 1919. So, on 19 September 1919 at his own expense, he embarked SS Baltic at Liverpool and returned by way of America for the purpose of attending to urgent business matters for his father’s company, and from there to Australia on SS Niagara.

His interests included golf, being a member of the Royal Melbourne Golf Club as well as being a founding member of Melbourne Legacy (Badge No 5).

His youngest brother Randal died in 1941, followed by his wife Margaret in 1942. On New Year's Day 1944 at St Marks, Darling Point, New South Wales he married Randal's widow Phyllis.

Major Walter Wimble Berry died in Melbourne on 19 August 1952.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great World War compiled by James Affleck pp 138-9 (citing John Thomson, On Lips of Living Men; Pegasus; National Archives; AWM E02766; E03186).