- Born 8 January 1883, died 9 May 1915
- Won four England caps
- Visit the World Rugby Museum at Twickeham - here
Henry Berry, known as Harry, was born in Gloucester. His father James was a dock worker in the city and he and his wife Hannah had a total of nine children.
Henry had a straightforward education at St Mark’s School in Gloucester, leaving at the age of 14. By 1899 he had enlisted in the Gloucestershire Regiment 4th Militia Volunteers and, being too young for a combat role in the Boer War, was sent to the island of St Helena to help guard prisoners.
In March 1902 he went to South Africa to help reinforce the 2nd Glosters. This period qualified him for two clasps (Cape Colony and Orange Free State) with his Queen’s South Africa Medal. He later transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment and served in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and India, but after contracting malaria returned to UK (probably in 1907) and became a reservist.
Having developed a keenness for rugby he joined the Gloucester rugby club in 1907 when he returned from Ceylon. Playing at first on the wing, he was quickly persuaded to become a wing forward. Such was the success that he made 135 appearances for the 1st XV in six seasons, scoring 24 tries, and also played nine times for the County XV.
Four caps, two tries
In 1909-10 he gained his four England caps, the first of which being in the inaugural international at Twickenham v Wales. He scored tries against Scotland and Ireland. He also played for the 2nd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment but, not being an officer, he was never selected for the Army due to the protocol applicable at that time.
He was recalled by the Glosters at the outbreak of war, serving firstly as a military policeman at Woolwich, but he eventually landed in France in February 1915 with the 2nd Battalion. He was killed at Festubert during the Battle of Aubers Ridge in Artois on 9 May 1915.
Corporal Henry Berry has no known resting place, but is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, France [Panel 17], and also in his home city on the Gloucester Regimental Cenotaph, on the Kingsholm Stadium War Memorial (unveiled in September 1913) and Gloucester FC’s earlier WW 1 plaque, as well as in St Mary de Lode Church.
Henry had married Beatrice Eveline Arnold in January 1910 at St Catherine’s Gloucester, and they had a son and a daughter, Henry and Phyllis, though he never lived to see his daughter. In marriage he had become a publican and, at the time of his death, Beatrice was at the Stag’s Head in Gloucester. She never re-married and died in 1965.
For more information on the Rugby Football Union’s First World War commemorations visit https://www.englandrugby.com/about-the-rfu/ww1-commemorations
For details of the other 26 fallen England players click here.