Berkeley Charles ARCHBOLD MC

ARCHBOLD, Berkeley Charles

Service Number: NX70328
Enlisted: 25 September 1940, Paddington, New South Wales
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
Born: Richmond, Victoria, 17 November 1900
Home Town: Glen Innes, Glen Innes Severn, New South Wales
Schooling: Camperdown, Sydney
Occupation: Clergyman
Died: Muscular Degeneration, Repatriation General Hospital, Concord West, NSW, 5 October 1974, aged 73 years
Cemetery: Rookwood Cemetery & Crematorium
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World War 2 Service

25 Sep 1940: Enlisted Captain (Chaplain Division 1 2nd AIF), NX70328, Australian Army Chaplains' Department, Paddington, New South Wales
25 Sep 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Major, NX70328, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
1 Jul 1942: Honoured Military Cross, El Alamein, for "Valuable and gallant service at Tel El Eisa"
2 Apr 1947: Discharged Major (Chaplain Division 2 2nd AIF), NX70328, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion
2 Apr 1947: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Major, NX70328, 2nd/48th Infantry Battalion

“Though I walk Through the Valley of Death, I Will Fear No Evil, for You are with Me”

Berkeley Charles Archbold
‘Berkeley’ was a family name handed down from his father Henry Berkeley Archbold’s side. Henry and his wife, Elizabeth had four daughters, Eleanor, Florence, Doris and Lillian and two sons, the other being Leslie. Berkeley was born in Glen Innes, in the tableland of NSW renown for sapphires and the glorious colours of Autumn leaves. The family moved so that by the time Berkeley sat for and successfully gained his Qualifying Certificate (with a merit) in 1914, the family was living in the beautiful historic town of Camperdown in Victoria. Both of these areas were a far cry from the dust, heat and deprivations of sandy desserts Berkeley was later to experience.
With the patriotism and enthusiasm of youth Berkeley, was a leader in the celebrations of Empire Day at his school. These included the traditional saluting of the Union Jack flag, an address from the Head Teacher about the significance of the day, and a concert which then culminated in the singing of ‘God Save The King’ (the National Anthem of the time). Rousing cheers were then given for the King, the Empire and "dear old Australia." With an afternoon of freedom looming for all students, Berkeley as a school leader, led a vote of thanks to those who had led the celebrations.
Berkeley’s upbringing was in a strongly Christian family where his parents were active leaders in the Methodist Church as were the three older children. By the conclusion of 1916 much of the Archbold family had moved to live in Melbourne so the church organised a special social to farewell them. Berkeley’s father held a range of roles including being superintendent of the Junior Christian Endeavour Society and a Sunday School teacher. His mother was also a Sunday School teacher, highly regarded as a faithful worker and loyal supporter promoting the work of God. Berkeley, who had been secretary of the Sunday School was presented with two leather bound books. His siblings, Elsie and Leslie were also presented with books from their respective teachers.
It was prophetic that at the time Rev Bennett in farewelling the family, highly commended their Christian character, conscientiousness in all things, and strength and loyalty of purpose to promote the good of all. Henry Archbold, in thanking the church for their gifts, said that whatever they had done for the work of God had been more a joy than a duty.
Inevitably, Isabel Lonsdale captured the attention of the formally ordained Reverend Berkeley Archbold and they married at the Birdwood Methodist Church in March 1929. Young brother, Leslie was Berkeley’s best man. As was usual in the Methodist Church, Berkeley was appointed to different regions (called stations) including South Grafton in 1932 and Glen Innes in 1939. Then WWII broke out. Berkeley volunteered and was accepted for service as a chaplain with the Australian Military forces in September 1940, just shy of his 40th birthday and at an age when it would have been an acceptable time to leave involvement in conflict to a younger generation; and besides his wife’s health was poor and he had three children, Isabel, George and Berkeley. Despite this, he and the family moved to Adelaide via Sydney. In farewelling them, the Glen Innes church highly commended Berkeley’s role in the church, including uncannily, his prominent part in the Musical and Dramatic Society. Rev Nail wished he “would find happiness every day in his work.”
In Berkeley’s response he singled out the church organist for thanks, for keeping the “essential spirit of the church service to the fore”, a sentiment which would later colour his attitude at the front. He added that in his work, he would find novelty and adventure. He certainly fulfilled this prediction. From July 1942 consistent reports appeared in print about Berkeley. War Correspondent, John Hetherington reported from Egypt in the Evening Advocate of July 1942, of a totally unusual sight;
“PADRE TAKES MUSIC TO AIF TRENCHES NEAR TEL EL EISA. — Standing with an: Australian battalion commander on a ridge overlooking the El Alamein front, I saw a slight man descending the slope and walking ahead to the front trenches. The man was wearing a tin hat and carrying a small phonograph and some records. He was going to a portion of a South Australian battalion which was holding the most advanced position anywhere on the El Alamein line. It was the Rev. Berkeley Archbold, of Glen Innes (NSW). "The padre is on his way to hold a service for the forward company." said the battalion's commander to me. Padre Archbold believes that front line soldiers enjoy music better than any other part of a religious service. He bought the phonograph and records after Tobruk to fill the need. He held service on the Hill of Jesus (Tel el Eisa). An occasional enemy shell burst within a few hundred yards of them, but the front-line men sat listening and without a movement while the phonograph played two choral excerpts from "The Messiah", "And The Glory of The Lord" and the "Hallelujah Chorus” and John McCormack's recording of "The Lost Child." The exploits of this battalion since it came into the line are a glowing page in the story of El Alamein. They were driven out of Tel el Eisa station on July 10, but the same night a company crept up in the darkness and found enemy tanks and troops there. The company sprang up like one man at a prearranged signal, shouted "Australianoes," and, with grenades, tommy guns and bren guns sent the enemy flying. From where I stood with the battalion commander, we could see shells bursting1 near the positions held by the company round Tel el Eisa station.”
His exploits continued to be marvelled at and widely reported, as in the Glen Innes Examiner in November 1942;
“In the late afternoon, an hour before the Jerry gunners start their customary 'evening hate' (the reporter says), a sun-scorched Aussie ambles to a forward section post from a truck parked 100 yards away. He wears the insignia of a padre; in each hand he carries a leather box. Down the jam-tin air-vent of 3 dugout he calls: ''What'll it be this afternoon, boys?' Through the sandbag curtain that serves as a door, two sandy faces peer 'Ah, it's good old Arch. Swing it, padre, Swing it!' Arch the padre (in peacetime the Rev. Berkeley Archbold, on a New South Wales rural circuit) opens his portable gramophone. Across no man's land squeaks hot rhythm, made in the U.S.A. The men love it. 'That little box of yours, Arch, puts me right back on a dance-floor in Sydney if I were there now with my sheila! In his record box Arch carries classics, hot stuff, and hymns. The troops get whatever they ask for. On Sundays the padre carts his two boxes round the desert, holding short services in sand dunes, in wadis, or anywhere he finds Diggers. The padre's activities are doubled in battle. In the stickiest spots he is helping the wounded and comforting the dying. Ong night, when nobody else knew the way, he piloted an operational party through a minefield. He is fanatically anti-publicity, and will be mad when he sees this in print. He is a dinkum Aussie.”
Unsought, but richly deserved, in March 1943. Chaplain Berkeley Archbold, was been awarded the Military Cross for his services in the Middle East. Proudly, the Glen Innes Examiner in March 1943. It again reiterated his approach as “A lover of music himself. Chaplain Archbold became known throughout the A. I.P. units as 'The Padre with the Gramophone’ and regardless of all danger he saw to it that the Diggers had music in the varied circumstances associated with warfare.
Berkeley’s parents Henry and Elizabeth were delighted with their son’s safe return home in March of 1947. Sadly however, his mother died on the 20th February 1950. But his passion was always with those who had, and were still, serving in Korea and Malta, and to those who had not returned and many who had and were still suffering. With comparative peace and the passage of time, returned soldiers became overlooked. Berkeley’s focus was on what these people had done in defending democracy and the emergence of the World Council of Churches in bringing the focus on “Him Who was our Saviour." A uniquely remarkable, unorthodox man of peace in the most unlikely of settings.
Researched and written by Kaye Lee, daughter of Bryan Holmes, SX8133 2/48th Battalion.

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Biography contributed by Elizabeth Allen

Berkeley Charles ARCHBOLD was born in Richmond, Victoria on 17th November, 1900

His parents were Henry Berkeley ARCHBOLD & Florence Elizabeth CHAPMAN

He married Doris Isabel LONSDALE in the Methodist Church, Burwood, Sydney in 1929

He died in the Repatriation General Hospital in Concord West on 5th October, 1974 and was cremated at Rookwood Crematorium