Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Able Seaman William Berry, HMS Kite

Trinity Church Gardens, Whitehaven, Cumbria
This is where A.B. William Berry was married (29.08.1942)
His bride was Kitty A. Skelton of Whitehaven

Able Seaman William A. Berry, R.N., made the Supreme Sacrifice on 21 August 1944 when his vessel, HMS Kite, was sunk. He was 27 years old and has no known grave. Almost two years to the day before this fateful day, on 29 August 1942, William Berry had a much happier day. This was the day he married his sweetheart, Miss Kitty Armstrong Skelton, at Holy Trinity Church, Scotch Street, Whitehaven. The church building no longer exists but the above photograph shows the Church Gardens and the place where the church once stood.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

A few biographical details

Able Seaman William Albert Berry, R.N., was the son of William James Berry, a steelworks 'Bar Cutter' and Winifred Berry. At the time of William's marriage in 1942, his residence was 1 Royal Oak Terrace, King's Bridge, Gorseinon, Glamorgan (South Wales). When he was married at Whitehaven in August 1942 William was 25 years old. His bride Kitty Armstrong Skelton was 19 years old and working as a bus conductress. Kitty's address at the time of her wedding to William was at High Road, Kells, Whitehaven. Witnesses to the marriage were William Reid and Margaret Smith.

The wedding ceremony of William and Kitty was performed by Reverend F. John Costelloe, Curate of the parish of Christ Church with Holy Trinity (Church of England). Shortly afterwards Reverend Costelloe became a Chaplain in the Forces, joining the RAF with the rank of Squadron Leader. In 1944 Squadron Leader the Reverend F. John Costelloe was the Chaplain at the RAF base at Naples, Italy.

HMS Kite (U87)

HMS Kite (U87) was a Royal Navy 'sloop' (Black Swan-class) which, when she was lost, was under the temporary command of Lieutenant Commander Andrew Neil Gillespie Campbell, R.N. HMS Kite had been built at Birkenhead at the Cammell Laird shipyard. She was launched on 13 October 1942, shortly after William Berry's marriage, and commissioned on 1 March 1943. Her Naval career lasted less than 18 months. Nevertheless, her role was a vital one.

HMS Kite took part in the Arctic convoys which were vital to keep the USSR supplied by her Western Allies. The date of destiny for HMS Kite, and that of her crew, was 21 August 1944. That was the day the ship was lost with most of the crew. Only 9 seamen made it back to their loved ones. Sadly, William Berry was not one of them.

This is a summary of how HMS Kite was lost. On 20 August 1944 Kite was escorting two aircraft carriers: HMS Vindex and HMS Striker. They in turn were escorting a convoy (JW-59) to N. Russia. German 'spotter' planes sighted the convoy and a number of U-Boats were sent to intercept the convoy. The convoy were able to destroy 3 of the U-Boats.

Fatefully, early the following morning, 21 August 1944, HMS Kite slowed to 6 knots (10 km/h) to untangle her acoustic torpedo noise makers (known as 'Foxers'). This meant 'Kite' was now vulnerable to attack by the remaining U-Boats - which is exactly what happened. She was hit by two torpedoes from U-344 commanded by Oberleutnant Ulrich Pietsch.

Lieutenant Commander Campbell was among those lost on HMS Kite.. In addition to William Berry, there was another seaman with connections to West Cumberland lost on HMS Kite. This was Able Seaman James Antony McAvoy, 26 years old, Service No D/JX 340904, son of Patrick and Barbara McAvoy of Cleator Moor, Cumberland.

On the following day, 22 August 1944, U-344 was also sunk. This was done by depth charges dropped from one of the Swordfish planes from the aircraft carrier HMS Vindex.

Sunday, 25 September, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

"Memorial to a Loved One"

The CWGC memorial for William Berry includes the details of those who loved him most - his loving parents and his dear wife. This is William Berry's listing by the CWGC:

Initials: W A
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Able Seaman
Regiment/Service: Royal Navy
Unit Text: H.M.S. Kite
Age: 26
Date of Death: 21/08/1944
Service No: D/JX 198536
Additional information: Son of William James Berry and Winifred Berry;
Husband of Kitty Berry, of Whitehaven, Cumberland.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 85, Column 3.

Tragically, William Berry's dear wife Kitty was widowed at the relatively young age of 21. This is one of the things that happens in wartime.

Yet, William Berry was never forgotten. In June 2004 an article about William Berry and HMS Kite was posted to the BBC "People's War" website ("A Memorial to a Loved One", Article I.D. A2720468).

It is a moving poem written in 2004 by William's widow Kitty in memory of her first husband, her first young love. The poem includes the following lines:

"Tears that flow
For what our hearts retain.
And still in days to come,
Shall flow again.

Yet says the sacred song.
We shall meet in Heaven.
It will not be long."


To the memory of Able Seaman William Berry and the crew of HMS Kite who perished in Arctic waters on 21 August 1944:

"They are but asleep in the deep".

We will remember them!

To read the BBC "People's War article about William Berry and HMS Kite:

[Click Here]


Cumbria County Archives & Library Service
(Whitehaven Records Office)

Mr Stuart Nicholson (Archivist),
Parish of Whitehaven (Church of England)

BBC "People's War" website

Sunday, 25 September, 2011  
Blogger parker said...

My name is Laurence Ridgway.Lt L Kendrick was my God father.Although his name was spelt as Lawrence,my mother preferred the French spelling of Laurence.I do have a small photograph of him as an able seaman.Should any of his family still be alive, i would love to hear from them,in my old age.E-mail:

Thursday, 03 November, 2011  
Blogger parker said...

My name is Laurence Ridgway.My Godfather was Lt L Kendrick My mother preferred the French spelling to Lawrence,which was his name.I do have a small photo of him when he was an able seaman.Should any of LT Kendrick`s relatives be alive today,I would love to hear from them.

Thursday, 03 November, 2011  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

William Berry's wife Kitty, who was left a young widow when HMS Kite was lost, subsequently remarried after the war and had a long happy life. Kitty's second husband also predeceased her.

Kitty passed away in London on 31 March 2012. She was a much loved mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and great grandmother.

May she rest in peace.

Wednesday, 11 April, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

'Time Immortal'

"Time immortal - time unseen
Passing swiftly - o'er a dream
Vain regrets moments lost
Hopes have crumbled into dust.
Backward glance,
The error seen
Time - Oh - Time turn back for me."

K.J. ('Kate Joyce')

Thursday, 12 April, 2012  

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