THE Mayor of Winchester has made a poignant visit to the Western Front to pay tribute to her grandfather-in-law.
Cllr Eileen Berry visited the Windy Corner cemetery on the Western Front in France where Sgt Fred Berry is buried.
Sgt Berry, who served with the Greenjackets, was killed in February 1916 and lies with his regimental comrades in a War Graves Commission cemetery.
Cllr Berry said she was made aware of the story by her father-in-law, also Fred Berry, who showed her his father’s name on the war memorial at St Mary’s church in Kings Worthy.
On the death of her husband, John, she inherited lots of military memorabilia including letters from the trenches.
Cllr Berry said the letters were written “with the heartfelt anguish from a young man to his wife Rosanna and to a son that he never saw. He never met him.
“Reading these letters and receiving the medals and the death plaque, I again became very touched. It was in my mind that one day I would like to honour this man. From letters sent to his widow, his men loved him. He was a great leader.”
She told the Chronicle: “The first cemetery that we went to, where this gentleman’s grave was, had 3,500 men buried there. It would seem that when Sgt Berry fell his comrades fell with him. They were in a line and their ages ranged from 18 to 27.
“The other thing that was most touching as well was that hundreds only had ‘a soldier known only unto God’. This was very poignant and made me feel very humble. My family that were with me made a pilgrimage through the whole of that cemetery and thanked them all for their sacrifice.
“We passed five cemeteries and were told that one had quite a number of Indian soldiers that had fallen, so we went to that cemetery and looked for them and bless them, there they were, quite a number of them, all drivers and all Indians. They all fell in 1914 at the beginning of the war, how sad is that? So we said thank you to them as well and they were very young.”