Marine Joseph Berry (PO/X 4370) served in the Royal Marines during World War Two. Born on 18th April 1919, he was the son of George Berry and Jane Berry (née Curran) of Millpark, Tullylish, Co. Down. He was the grandson of Mrs. John Curran of Bannview Terrace, Gilford, Co. Down.
While serving in the Royal Marines, Berry saw action in the Battle of Darar and the Battle of Matapan. He died on 25th November 1941 aged 22 years old when HMS Barham went down in the Mediterranean Sea. The ship was part of an operation against an Italian convoy bound for Libya. Nazi U-Boat U-331 under the command of Hans-Diedrich von Tiesenhausen evaded Barham’s destroyer screen and fired off 4 torpedoes.
A total of 3 of U-331’s torpedoes struck HMS Barham causing a massive column of water to be thrown up. Barham capsized to the port side and a fire broke out causing the main magazine to explode. The ship went down 4 minutes after the torpedo strikes leaving only 452 survivors of a crew of 1,312. Berry was 1 of 2 survivors of the sinking who died a short time later of injuries sustained in the attack. The Admiralty suppressed all news of the sinking and families only received notification after several weeks. They were asked not to mention the sinking to anyone but close relatives.
Joseph Berry has no known grave. His name is on Panel 58, Column 3 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Portsmouth, Hampshire. His name is on the Gilford War Memorial, Gilford, Co. Down, and the Banbridge War Memorial, Banbridge, Co. Down. His name is also on the Second World War Memorial in All Saints’ Church of Ireland, Tullylish, Co. Down. On 29th January 1947, members of LOL 1773 unveiled a memorial tablet bearing Joseph Berry’s name at Bodel’s Hill Orange Hall, Gilford, Co. Down.