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John Berryman, Military, Dudley VC. Balaclava.
Now as far as I am aware, there is no local monument to the Dudley born, John Berryman, V.C. This is rather a shame, as he was undoubtedly a very brave man, and an outanding solidier for almost 40 years. He was born on 19th July,1825, his father, Edward Berryman, being a Victualler and Inn Keeper, somewhere in Dudley. His mother Elizabeth, must have looked with pride, as he was baptised in Saint Thomas's Church, little knowing that his exploits in later life, would place him in front of the countries Monarch, to receive his nations highest honour. He survived the dreaded Cholera out break in 1832, although it claimed the lives of three of his siblings. By way of a trade, he turned to Cabinet-making, and stuck at it until he turned 18, and then enlisted, in Birmingham, in 1843, into the 17th Lancers. He was by all accounts a good trooper, and in 1848 he was promoted to a full Corporal. He then, completely out of character, was Court-Martialed, and demoted back to the ranks. In 1851 he regained the two stripes, which must have pleased his by now widowed mother, back home in 17 Flood Street, Dudley. In 1854 came War, and the Regiment, along with the rest of the Light Brigade, sailed off to Bulgaria, where they spent the first 3 months of the War, and where Berryman was promoted again, this time to Sergeant. Sent to the Crimea, they were in action as soon as they landed at Sevastopol in September.
In October, they were camped on the plain of Balaclava, and on the 25th, he found himself in the front two lines of a Cavalry charge that would go down in history. He must have watched, with some surprise, Captain Nolan ride across the front of the line in the early stages of the charge, only to killed by an exploding Russian shell. Berryman made it to the Russian Guns, where his horse, wounded and with a broken leg could go no further. He himself was also wounded, as was his own troop officer, Captain Webb, whose leg was shattered, and unable to ride. Unable to advance, they were joined by another 17th Lancer, Sergeant John Farell, and disobeying Webb's order to save themslves, carried him under heavy fire back towards their lines. With the help of a third man, Corporal Joseph Malone, from the 13th Light Dragoons, they carried Captain Webb to safety. Sadly, after his leg had been amputated, he died in hospital on 6th November. The day before, Berryman had also been with what remained of the Light Brigade at Inkerman. Before they returned to England, Berryman was promoted to Troops Sergeant Major on 18th April,1856. On June 26, 1857. in front of huge crowd in Hyde Park, London, John Berryman was presented with his V.C. by Queen Victoria. He would have many more adventures, for later that year they went off to India aboard the SS Great Britain, to play a role in putting down the Mutiny. He married in India in 1863, had a daughter, and lost his wife to Cholera in 1865. By now he had been promoted again, to Quartermaster. Back home in England, things went quiet until 1879 when the Zulu War started, and the 17th once again found themselves back in the thick of it. The Regiments last recorded full blown cavalry charge was on 4th July, 1879, at Ulundi, and the regiments Adjutant, John Brown, and John Berrymen, were the only two men who had taken part in charges in the Crimea, India, and Zulu Campaigns. In 1880. he transfered to the 5th Lancers, became an Honorary Major, and finally retired in 1883. He died, on 27th June, 1896, a few weeks short of his 71st birthday, and is buried in Saint Agatha's Churchyard, Woldingham, Surrey. He has a handsome memorial cross and scroll on his grave, a fitting tribute to a very brave local man. Pictures in the " Images from the Forums " album.
A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day. ( See my Blog entry )
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