The Airmen's Stories - F/Sgt. F G Berry
Frederick George Berry was born on 4th January 1914 at Fort William, Calcutta, India. His father was a physical training instructor in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and went on to take up a post at the Victoria Boys' School. This was set up in the hills to provide an English public-school type of education for children with a British background. Berry was educated at the school and subsequently applied to become an aircraft apprentice in the RAF.
Berry was accepted and sailed for England, entering No.1 School of Technical Training on 27th August 1929. On completion of the course Berry passed out on 19th August 1932 as an AC1 Metal Rigger. He was then posted to 5 FTS Sealand. He was promoted to LAC in August 1933 and on 27th March 1934 went to 'C Flight, 24 Squadron at Hendon. On 21st January 1935 Berry returned to RAF Halton for further training and was remustered as a Fitter on 11th May 1936.
He had volunteered for pilot training and was now selected, going on 6th July 1936 to No.1 RAF Depot Uxbridge, moving to 9 FTS Thornaby on the 18th for flying training. On completion of the course Berry was posted to 43 Squadron at Tangmere on 21st February 1937 as a Sergeant-Pilot. He joined No.1 Squadron on 29th August 1939 and went with it to France at the outbreak of war. Promoted to Flight Sergeant on 1st April 1940, he was with the squadron throughout the fighting in May and June. He is known to have claimed three enemy aircraft destroyed but the details were lost in the confusion of the retreat.
On No.1's final operational patrol in France on 17th June 1940, Berry was leading a section over the docks at St. Nazaire. A force of Ju88's came in to attack Allied shipping. Berry chased one and shot it down but was unable to prevent the Lancastria, a civilian liner turned troopship, being bombed. It caught fire and later capsized with very heavy loss of life, so bad that the news was censored for some time. For this action Berry was awarded the DFM (gazetted 20th August 1940).
On 16th August 1940 Berry claimed a He111 destroyed in the Portsmouth area. He was shot down and killed on 1st September in combat with Me109's. His Hurricane, P' 3276, crashed at Brisley Farm, Ruckinge.
Berry is buried in Pinner New Cemetery, Harrow, Middlesex.