Berry Joseph, Squadron Leader (DFC**)

 

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S/L Joseph Berry
Born: 28 February 1920
Killed in Action: 2 October 1944

Joseph Berry
Joseph Berry was born 28 February 1920. Father was Arthur Joseph and mother Mary Rebecca Charlton. He had a brother and sister, Jack and Ivy.
He lived at 55 Ramsey St, Cassop cum Quarrington Teesdale (12 miles east of Crook Co Durham). Later he moved to Hampeth Nr Alnwick (Northumberland) where from 1931 to 1936 he attended the Duke Grammar School. Leaving school in 1936 as a 16 year old Joe moved into lodgings in Carlton, Nottingham for his work in the Inland Revenue, two years later he met Joyce who was working at the same branch. Joe enlisted in the RAFVR in August 1940, and in March 1942 Joe and Joyce were married.

Career Details
Little is known of Joseph Berry's early service. On completion of training as a Fighter Pilot he was posted to 256 Squadron at Squires Gate Nr Blackpool, this was a Night Fighter Squadron flying Defiants, on one occasion having to bail out of his stricken aircraft (letter code JT). He was commissioned in March 1942 at Squires Gate, this Squadron was then transferred to Woodvale, South Port flying Beaufighters.
Joseph was initially posted to Lyneham in Kent where he and fellow pilot Bryan Wild caught a train to Filton, Bristol to collect their brand new Beaufighters, later flying them to Setif, in the Atlas Mountains.

This area in North Africa was a pilot pool, where air crew from the U.K. awaited posting to their various squadrons in the region; Casablanca to Tunisia costal area, after 3 weeks they were called to join 153 Squadron at Maison-Blanche Algiers. 153 Squadron was formed at Ballyhalbert on the 14th October 1941, from "A" flight on 256 Squadron with Boulton Paul Defiants 1's. It had previously been disbanded following the first world war. It became operational in December 1941 as a night fighter squadron, but it wasn't until January 1942 that they converted to Beaufighter Mk 1's. Throughout the summer of 1942 the squadron carried out night patrols, and in September their role extended to convoy patrols, in December 1942, 153 Squadron moved to Algiers; to become operational on Christmas Day. It retained its role through to July 1943 with the night defence of the Algiers and Bone areas. Gradually, throughout this period, the squadron's role extended to convoy escort work. As the Sicilian campaign got under way, 153 Squadron remained in North Africa carrying out convoy escort work. (letter code TB). The main duty of this Night-fighter unit was to repel German aircraft from attacking convoys in the Mediterranean, on the Gibraltar to Suez route. By Jan 1943 he and his observer, a Newcastle man called Ian Watson, were flying Beaufighters as a night fighter pilot with 255 Squadron in the Mediterranean.

 

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Squires Gate Nr Blackpool 1941. 256 Squadron.
Joseph Berry 3rd from right.

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Woodvale Offices Mess 256 Squadron. Joseph Berry 7th from left.

 

This area in North Africa was a pilot pool, where air crew from the U.K. awaited posting to their various squadrons in the region; Casablanca to Tunisia costal area, after 3 weeks they were called to join 153 Squadron at Maison-Blanche Algiers. 153 Squadron was formed at Ballyhalbert on the 14th October 1941, from “A” flight on 256 Squadron with Boulton Paul Defiants 1's. It had previously been disbanded following the first world war. It became operational in December 1941 as a night fighter squadron, but it wasn't until January 1942 that they converted to Beaufighter Mk 1's. Throughout the summer of 1942 the squadron carried out night patrols, and in September their role extended to convoy patrols, in December 1942, 153 Squadron moved to Algiers; to become operational on Christmas Day. It retained its role through to July 1943 with the night defence of the Algiers and Bone areas. Gradually, throughout this period, the squadron's role extended to convoy escort work. As the Sicilian campaign got under way, 153 Squadron remained in North Africa carrying out convoy escort work. (letter code TB). The main duty of this Night-fighter unit was to repel German aircraft from attacking convoys in the Mediterranean, on the Gibraltar to Suez route. By Jan 1943 he and his observer, a Newcastle man called Ian Watson, were flying Beaufighters as a night fighter pilot with 255 Squadron in the Mediterranean.

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255 Squadron, B Flight Sicily September 1943. Joe middle row 2nd from right.

 

On the 15th of November the aircraft were flown to Maison Blanche in Algeria. Detachments flew from Bone, Setif, Souk el Arba, Souk el Khemis, and Tingley. August brought a move to Western Sicily, where sorties were flown over the Salerno invasion fleet and beachhead in September. This is where Joseph opened his account; shooting down three enemy aircraft, on the 9th September a Messerschmitt Me 210, the 10th September another Me 210 over the Salerno area, and on 24th October a Junkers Ju 88 over the Naples area, and the second occasion in which he had to bail out of his aircraft (letter code YD).

On the 3rd of October 1943 while serving with 255 Squadron in the Mediterranean, Joe was involved in the “Great E-Boat Raid” at Cos (Greece). 60 aircraft were involved; several Beaufighter and 1 Beafort Squadron attacked the German Invasion Force North of the Allied occupied Island. The German invasion force consisted of several large vessels used as Troop Ships, Destroyers, E-Boats and Landing Barges. The attack had mixed results, due to heavy enemy fire and bad weather with head winds on the return journey; the Squadrons took overall losses of 27%. The Beaufighter had a range of 370 miles, and due to heavy fuel consumption 25 got back, most of the others ditched or were shot down.

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Feb 1943 Pilot Pool at Setif, Algeria. Joseph Berry 2nd from right.

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1943 Maison Blanche, Algeria 153 Squadron. Joseph 3rd from right. (Tragic note: The pilot on the right of this group is Ken Rayment DFC; after the war he was the second pilot to die of his injuries in the Munich Air Disaster, bringing the Manchester United Footballers back to England.)

 

This area in North Africa was a pilot pool, where air crew from the U.K. awaited posting to their various squadrons in the region; Casablanca to Tunisia costal area, after 3 weeks they were called to join 153 Squadron at Maison-Blanche Algiers. 153 Squadron was formed at Ballyhalbert on the 14th October 1941, from “A” flight on 256 Squadron with Boulton Paul Defiants 1's. It had previously been disbanded following the first world war. It became operational in December 1941 as a night fighter squadron, but it wasn't until January 1942 that they converted to Beaufighter Mk 1's.

Throughout the summer of 1942 the squadron carried out night patrols, and in September their role extended to convoy patrols, in December 1942, 153 Squadron moved to Algiers; to become operational on Christmas Day. It retained its role through to July 1943 with the night defence of the Algiers and Bone areas. Gradually, throughout this period, the squadron's role extended to convoy escort work. As the Sicilian campaign got under way, 153 Squadron remained in North Africa carrying out convoy escort work. (letter code TB). The main duty of this Night-fighter unit was to repel German aircraft from attacking convoys in the Mediterranean, on the Gibraltar to Suez route. By Jan 1943 he and his observer, a Newcastle man called Ian Watson, were flying Beaufighters as a night fighter pilot with 255 Squadron in the Mediterranean.

berry-7 He was awarded a DFC in March 1944. In June of that year, promoted Flt.Lt., he was posted to the FIU and flying Mosquito's. FIU formed a special flight of Tempests to intercept the V1's which had begun falling on south-east England, this flight operating mainly by night. Over the next two months Joseph was to establish himself as the top-scorer against these robots in Tempest, shooting down 52 and one shared by early August.
On 23 July he set the record, claiming seven in one night. Four nights later he pursed one at low level over West Malling airfield, closing to 100 feet in order to ensure he destroyed it before it fell on the base. His own aircraft was damaged in the resultant explosion. To his obvious chagrin on this occasion it was decided that he had to share this success with the crew of a Mosquito who had opened fire from 1,000 yards, and in the opinion of FIU had 'missed hopelessly'.

On 16 August 1944 the Tempest flight moved to Manston to reform 501 Squadron, of which Berry became commanding officer. The unit continued to hunt V1's, and he personally accounted for seven more, receiving a Bar to his DFC during September. During the night of 27/28 September, with the V1 threat mainly negated by the Allied advance in France, he led two Tempests on a 'Ranger' sortie over Holland, strafing trains.

Killed in Action
From Bradwell Bay before dawn at 05-35 on 2nd October flying his Tempest SD-F he led a Ranger sortie with F/Lt E.L. “Willy” Williams in SD-L and F/Lt C.A. “Horry” Hansen in SD-H to attack ground targets of opportunity between Bad Zwischenhan in Northern Germany, a He111 airfield; and a nearby rail yard where trains transporting V1's to these airfields and launch sites could be found, and any other He111 airfields or enemy targets of opportunity from there to the Rhine.


But while flying fast and low to their target; bursts of small arms fire from a German soldier, stationed at the German Radar Site "Gazzelle" just East of Veendam unluckily struck Joseph's Tempest rupturing his glycol tank, struggling to control his stricken aircraft, “eye witness reports say; that he increasing his height to 500ft presumably in an attempt to bail out, leaving a glycol vapour trail in his wake”; he radioed to his fellow pilots "I've had it chaps; you go on". Just over 2 miles to the East of “Gazelle” Joseph's plane crashed in flames in Kibbelgaarn, a small hamlet 4 ½ miles South of Sheemda. The two other pilots circled the crash site a couple of times to see if their commanding officer had survived the impact, and then carried on their mission. Two inhabitants of Kibblegarrn; Mr A.Jager who was the head teacher of the village junior school that Joseph's airplane had just narrowly missed, and Mr S. de Lange were the first to reach the crash site, they pulled the dead pilot from the blazing wreckage, desperately trying to extinguish the flames from his uniform, the name of the pilot at that time was unknown as his identity tags were destroyed in the blaze. The only clue to his identity was a small metal medicine box and a cigarette case with the initials JB engraved on it. Two hours later the Germans arrived.

Joseph was buried in a quiet plot in nearby Scheemda, on the simple wooden cross were written the words, “Unknown RAF Pilot”. The remaining two pilots returned home safely at 09-25 reporting attacks on four trains, leaving them smocking and steaming. Three trains were reported attacked between the River Gruis and Dummer Lake, and the fourth train attacked 12miles East of Zwolle. His total of V1's has been put at 60, but recorded claims appear to indicate 59 ½. He was awarded a second Bar to his DFC on the 20th January 1946, back dated to October 1944.

 

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The six medals to the right were never claimed by Joe Berry's wife Joyce. But in March 2006 Graham Berry applied to the Medal Office at Innsworth and after a short wait they arrived. This picture shows what Joe would have been able to wear if had he survived. They are now in their rightful place in the family.

 

Awards

Distinguished Flying-Cross.

Flying Officer Joseph BERRY, R.A.F.V.R., No. 255 Squadron.

This officer is an exceptionally capable pilot who has destroyed three enemy aircraft in the course of a long and strenuous tour of duty. During operations at Salerno in September, 1943, he shot a Junkers 88 down in flames, and on the following night destroyed a Messerschmitt 210 over the Italian coast. His third victory took place over Naples in October 1943 when he shot down another Junkers 88. Flying Officer Berry has been forced to abandon his aircraft on two occasions and has operated with coolness and courage in the face of heavy enemy action.

Bar to Distinguished Flying-Cross.

Flight Lieutenant Joseph BERRY,D.F.C. (118435),R.A.F.V.R.

Flight Lieutenant Berry is a highly skilled and resolute pilot. He has completed a very large number of sorties and throughout his keenness and devotion to duty have been exceptionally. This officer has, within a short period, destroyed numerous flying bombs.

Second Bar to Distinguished Flying-Cross.

Acting Squadron Leader Joseph BERRY,D.F.C., (118435)R.A.F.V.R. No, 501 Squadron. with effect from 1st October, 1944(since deceased) .

Since the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross, this officer has flown on many operational sorties and has destroyed a further 41 flying bombs bringing his total to 58 bombs destroyed at night. On several occasions his aircraft has been damaged by the explosion of the bombs. As Squadron Commander, Squadron Leader Berry has displayed courage and devotion to duty of a high order and under his inspiring leadership the squadron has attained many successes.

 

 

 

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SD-F (EJ600), in which Joe was killed on 2 October 1944. Joe also flew SD-L (EJ590), SD-M (EJ603), SD-Q (EJ584), SD-P (EJ 608), SD-C (EJ596) and ZQ-Y while flying with 501 Squadron.
He also flew the Mosquito UP-U twice in one night to see how the Tempests and Search light batteries could better be coordinated for maximum effect and while doing this found time to attack a V1, but did not destroy it.

 

Berry's victories in Tempest

 

Date of Claim

Type Claimed

Location of Claim

Unit

28 June 1944

2 V-1s

S. England

FIU

29 June 1944

V-1

S. England

FIU

30 June 1944

3 V-1s (night

S. England

FIU

2 July 1944

V-1

S. England

FIU

3 July 1944

V-1

S. England

FIU

5 July 1944

2 V-1s

S. England

FIU

6 July 1944

4 V-1s (night)

S. England

FIU

8 July 1944

3 V-1s (night)

S. England

FIU

9 July 1944

V-1

S. England

FIU

17 July 1944

2 V-1s (night)

S. England

FIU

19 July 1944

4 V-1s

S. England

FIU

21 July 1944

V-1

S. England

FIU

23 July 1944

7 V-1s (night

S. England

FIU

25 July 1944

4 V-1s (night

S. England

FIU

27 July 1944

1/2 V-1

S. England

FIU

29 July 1944

2 V-1s

S. England

FIU

3 Aug 1944

5 V-1s (night)

S. England

FIU

5 Aug 1944

5 V-1s

S. England

FIU

7 Aug 1944

4 V-1s

S. England

FIU

12 Aug 1944

2 V-1s (night)

S. England

501 Sqn

13 Aug 1944

V-1 (night)

S. England

501 Sqn

15 Aug 1944

2 V-1s (night)

S. England

501 Sqn

20 Aug 1944

V-1

S. England

501 Sqn

31 Aug 1944

V-1

S. England

501 Sqn
 

Berry's previous victories

 

Date of Claim

Type Claimed

Aircraft Flown

Location of Claim

Unit

9 Sept 1943

Messerschmitt Me210

Bristol Beaufighter V1f

S Capri

255 Sqn

10 Sept 1943

Messerschmitt Me210

Bristol Beaufighter V1f

Lago-Paolo

255 Sqn

24 Oct 1943

Junkers Ju 88

Bristol Beaufighter V1f

S. Volturno River

255 Sqn

 

 

The Berrys' visit to Holland

He routed the Doodlebugs - A story about Squadron Leader Joseph Berry

Joe Berry; the forgotten Ace by Graham Berry

Websites: 

Joseph Berry DFC & 2 BARS 

 

Images from:
Graham Berry
Andy Noonan
Bryan Wild
Chris Thomas
The Nottingham Evening Post (via Mrs Joyce Manser)
Mrs Joyce Manser via Mr Neil Berry
Colour plate:
Graham Berry
Text sources:
Graham Berry
Aces High by Christopher Shores
RAF Manston Kent
The 501 Squadron History Book by David Watkins