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Private 407 Henry (Harry) Berry 1/24th Regiment Mounted Infantry
Posts : 3287
Join date : 2021-01-04
|Subject: Private 407 Henry (Harry) Berry 1/24th Regiment Mounted Infantry Wed Aug 31, 2022 6:00 pm|| |
Jim has very kindly sent me this interview with Imperial Mounted Infantryman Henry(Harry) Berry from a Rhode Island newspaper and given me permisssion to post it up on the forum. Thanks Jim "Henry (Harry) Berry, born in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, England, February 27th 1856. Sometime in 1875, at the ripe age of nineteen he took the Queens Shilling (Enlisted in the Army). He enlisted with the 2nd Warwickshire’s. Afterwards was with the 1st battalion of the 24th Infantry and later with the 2nd Battalion. After enlistment he left Aldershot England went to Gibraltar in the Mediterranean and then on to Greenport, Cape Town, South Africa.
The following is an excerpt from an old copy of a newspaper article, circa 1900. This interview took place at the British War Veterans Association smoker in Providence, Rhode Island some twenty years after Henry Berry left the British Army. This is his own accounting of his time in South Africa.
Corporal Henry “Harry” Berry was introduced as one of the survivors of the 24th Regiment. He spoke briefly of his experiences there and of his service in the Northwest rebellion. He has service medals for both campaigns. The South Africa Medal is of special interest at this time. On one side is the Bas-Relief of Victoria Regina, and on the obverse is the British Lion, the Assagi and Shield, and the shrubs, representing South Africa. The date on the crossbar is 1878-79.
Corporal Berry was familiar with all the country around the Diamond mines. He was at Griqualand when the rush for the new mines occurred. Then he was stationed at Barkly West, some 30 miles from Kimberley. While there the soldiers used to dig for diamonds every morning as they took their bath in the Vaal River.
Corporal Berry told the story of how the first man discovered Diamonds. He stated that “At that time while in Barkley West a man was washing his shirt in the river when he was approached by several of the local native boys who had some stones they wanted him to look at. As his shirt was drying out he examined them. He then took them to Barkly and found out they were Diamonds. Then came the rush”. Corporal Berry related that they were treated well there. They had everything including brandy and diamonds. We were then move back to Cape Town through the besieged Colesburg.
Corporal Berry was then stationed at King William’s Town. (King William’s Town began its life on the banks of the Buffalo River as a mission station in 1834.) It was during this time that Colonel Carrington was organizing the first Company of Mounted Infantry. Corporal Berry was one of the first members of this unit. At the time that the Transvaal was annexed to Natal and made a British Territory Corporal Berry was one of the 50 men who escorted Sir Theophilus Shepstone to Pretoria where they hoisted the British Flag. Corporal Berry described the country as rugged and the Boer’s worse.
From there he was stationed in Krunen the site of Dr. Livingston’s Mission Station. This was the campaign conducted by Colonel Warren against the old Colony Kaiffirs. (9th Frontier War 1877). It was near there, in the mountains that he was wounded in the leg while engaged in a fight with the natives. After a 3 month rest in Pretoria, Corporal Berry returned to the 24th Regiment and the IMI.
Corporal Berry was with Lord Chelmsford at the time of the massacre in Isandlwana. . Lord Chelmsford who had some 400 men and 4 guns with him.
Lord Chelmsford had split his force on the eve of an encounter with the main Zulu army, and the Zulus had slipped around his flank and fallen on the main camp at Isandlwana. The camp was left in the charge of Colonel Pollein. If everything had gone according to Col. Pollein’s orders the camp would have been saved. However, Colonel Dunsford of the Engineers came in and as the ranking Officer took Command. When the Zulu’s attacked Col. Dunsford sent two companys of infantry out of the camp and they never returned. Instead of fighting from behind the barricades he ordered the men deployed as skirmishers. The results of that decision are well known.
Corporal Berry explained that “the fact was the 24th was taken by surprise in the hills”. He explained that in those days the Army encamped in Laager's. They formed a barricade with the wagons and the other materials around the camp proper. It was at such a camp that the Massacre of the 24th occurred, the Regiment was cutup and only sixty survived
Of some 1700 men of the 24th regiment, Colonial Volunteers and Mounted Infantry, two RA guns and a rocket battery, and auxiliaries of the NNC left to guard the camp, 1300 were killed. In the aftermath of the battle, the Zulu reserve, 4000 strong, crossed into Colonial Natal and attacked the supply depot at Rorke's Drift, which was defended by only about 130 men, mostly of the 2/24th, under the command of Lt Chard RE. After ten hours of almost constant and vigorous fighting form behind improvised barricades of mealie bags, during which the Zulus captured the hospital building room by room, the Zulus were driven off. Although Lord Chelmsford extricated part of his force unscathed, the disaster at Isandlwana had scotched his invasion plan.
It was late when the main force returned. The Zulu dead were piled in heaps. There must have been thousands of them killed. The main body stayed there the rest of the night. The British dead and wounded were horribly mutilated. Some men had their hearts cut out, others were disemboweled. Others had holes cut in their bodies and had their hands thrust in, as in pockets.
At daybreak the next morning the Command pressed forward and saved two companies of the 2nd who were sore pressed. This was at Roark’s Drift.
Corporal Berry was with General Sir Evelyn Wood at Kumbula Hill. The battle took place on 29 March 1879 during the Anglo- Zulu war. Some 18000 Zulu warriors attacked a fortified position of the fourth column. The battle started at 13h30 and ended at 17h30. The Zulus were driven off with great losses and pursued by cavalry until da
Corporal concluded his interview by expressing the wish of many of the old Soldiers there when he said he wished he was in South Africa today. The general sentiment seemed to be that England always began her campaigns with reverses, but in the end was inevitable victory."
More details of the man can be found herehttps://www.1879zuluwar.com/t10608-henry-berry#101629
Private 407 Henry (Harry) Berry 1/24th Regiment Mounted Infantry
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