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Our Committee is raising funds to create a lasting legacy telling the story of Lemnos' link to Gallipoli and Australia's Anzac story. Our projects include the Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial in Albert Park, the publication of a major new historical and pictorial publication and more. To make a donation you can also deposit directly by direct debit into the Committee's bank account: Account Name: Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee Inc; Bank: Delphi Bank; Account No: 204299-020 BSB No: 941300; Include your surname in the reference section. For further information on our legacy projects or to make a donation please contact either Lee Tarlamis 0411553009 or Jim Claven 0409402388M

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Lemnos Heroes - Driver Ralph Berryman

Hawthorn Rowing Club War Memorial, Hawthorn. October 2013. Photograph Jim Claven

Ralph Berryman was only 22year's old when he joined up in the days following the outbreak of war in August 1914. The son of Frederick and Ellen Berryman of 67 Morang Road, Hawthorn, he had been born in South Melbourne. He worked as a warehouseman at 206 Flinders Lane in the city.

Ralph enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 17th August 1914 at Albert Park. He was assigned as a driver to the 6th Battery, 2nd Brigade Australian Field Artillery. His 3 months previous service with the 8th Battery of the Australian Field Artillery would have stood him in good stead with his new unit.

Formed in Melbourne in August 1914, his unit was assigned to the 1st AIF Division. Field Artillery brigades were part of infantry divisions. In 1914 and 1915 the First and Second Division each had three brigades equipped with 12 x 18 pounder field guns. Ralph's was one of these.

HMAT Shropshire at Port Said, Egypt, December 1914. Ralph would have sailed on this voyage. AWM image
Ralph sailed from Melbourne aboard the HMAT Shropshire (A9) on 20th October 1914. After a period of gunnery and other training at Mena Camp in Egypt, Ralph sailed to Lemnos, arriving by mid April.

On Lemnos, the gunners and drivers practiced unloading guns and wagons on to pontoons and slinging horses fully harnessed.

His unit's War Diary reveals that elements of his unit began landing at Anzac Cove on the Peninsula on the 25th April 1915:

"25 April 1915. Left Lemnos at 1am and arrived about 8am off disembarkation point north of Kaba Tepe. Anzac Cove, 3.30pm - Portion of Headquarters and 1 Subsection 4th Battery  with 12 horses, one gun and two wagons landed. Gun in position by 6pm and fired few rounds in direction from which enemy's shells were coming.
26 April 1915. Four more guns (2 from 4th Battery and 2 from 5th Battery) landed and placed in position as per plan attached - During day fire was brought to bear in direction from which shells were coming but there was little observation."

The 2nd Field Artillery Brigade went on to fight on the peninsula, until being evacuated at the end of the campaign.

Most of the units battery's were eventually able to land at Anzac Cove, serving around the peninsula, particularly at Shrapnel Gully. This was named after the heavy Turkish shelling on the 26 April 1915. It was the essential track leading from the beach up to the Anzac front line, including Quinn's Post. John Simpson and his donkey used this track to bring wounded down from the front line to the beach.

A battery of the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade at Gallipoli, 1915,
But it proved difficult landing all the batteries at Anzac due to the terrain and problems finding suitable emplacements. By early May, Ralph's 6th Battery was unable to land and remained in their ships off-shore.

The imminent battle of Krithia saw Ralph's unit - along with the artillery of the 1st Australian Field Artillery Brigade - diverted from Anzac to Cape Helles, landing on the 4th and 5th of May. The offensive began on the 6th May, continuing for the next 3 days. Despite a severe shortage of ammunition, the five Australian artillery batteries were commended for their "excellent work both in reconnaissance and occupation of ground and in action."

Throughout this time the Australian artillery batteries at Helles sustained casualties from hostile shelling, from the north and from the large Turkish guns across the straits. Men and horses were killed and wounded. On the 30th May, the 6th Battery Commander, Major Mills, was fatally wounded by a Turkish shell. The next day, Ralph Berryman received a gunshot wound to his back on at Cape Helles. He was evacuated to a hospital at Lemnos, most likely the 3rd Australian General Hospital or 2nd Australian Stationary Hospital at Turks Head Peninsula, West Mudros.

On the 12th June, his father Frederick received a telegram saying his son was wounded but "not seriously". Unfortunately, he had in fact died on the 8th June 1915. His family received his effects, which included a tin box containing letters. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, Victory Medal and the British war medal. On the 8th October 1919, the Army wrote to his father stating that “the utmost care and attention is being devoted to the graves of our fallen soldiers”. 

He is buried in East Mudros Military Cemetery, Plot 1, Row A, Grave 11.
Driver Ralph Berryman's grave, East Mudros Military Cemetery, Lemnos, April 2013. Photograph Jim Claven.
In April 2013, the Hon Richard Dalla-Riva MP placed a poppy on Ralph's grave at East Mudros in commemoration of his service.

In his spare time, Ralph was a keen rower with his local rowing club, the Hawthorn Rowing Club. 

In a sunny park, near his beloved Club house, on the banks of Melbourne's Yarra River, stands the War Memorial erected by the Hawthorn Rowing Club to its members who fell in war - including Private Ralph Berryman. It states simply - "They fought, they fell"

Hawthorn Rowing Club War Memorial, October 2013. Photograph Jim Claven

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