Leading Cook Sidney (Sid) Berry (1920-2006)


Reminiscences and anecdotes of Sid Berry, born 28 April 1920 in Deddington, as recorded by Rob Forsyth and Colin Robinson during 2004 and 2005.

Session 1 - Memories of Deddington

Sid Berry over the wallSidney William George Berry (Sid) was born 28 April 1920 in a small cottage in Hudson Lane, Deddington and lived in the village all his life except for his five years in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. He cultivated his own extensive vegetable and fruit garden, drove his own car and took part in the Remembrance Day march past every year until 2005. He died on 27 December 2006.

Sidney started his working life as an apprentice baker - of which there were at least eight in the village - and the first recording, made on 21 November 2004 in his favourite and somewhat squeaky arm chair, is entirely devoted to recollections of stories about the village when he was a young lad.

Please download this 1 hour 15 minutes audio file, a 17MByte MP3 file


Session 2 - Naval Years

Sid Berry with medalsBriefly:  he was a baker by trade so it was no suprise that he was made a cook on volunteering for the Navy in September 1940. He served on HMS Mashona - including the Lofoten raid and the hunt for the Bismarck.(See the photo and Sid's story of the sinking below). He then served on HMS Ashanti  during which time it took part in Operation Pedestal  (Lt Robert Churchill RN, FAA, died on the same operation) In 1943 he volunteered for the submarine service thinking this might be safer! In May 1944 he joined HMS/M Selene in the Far East  where she sank five Japanese sailing vessels and three coasters, and damaged another sailing vessel and coaster. He transferred to HMS S/M Vivid in July to return to the UK and left her to be released from the Navy in March 1946. He was still on the Fleet Reserve list for training in 1956.

Service records:  The Royal Naval Submarine Museum at Gosport holds the originals of Sid's service records as Ref No: A2004/0008. They can also be viewed as pdf files by clicking on the links below

The sinking of HMS Mashona

Sid joined HMS Mashona in March 1941 as an Assistant Cook.  Only two months later the ship was was ordered to join the hunt for the Bismarck in the Atlantic. He recalls seeing shells from HMS Rodney, destined for the Bismarck, passing overhead. Shortly after this Bismarck was sunk and Mashona was ordered back to Plymouth. While en route, on 28 May, she was attacked and sunk by German Focke-Wulf aircraft.


Sid is one of the figures in the photograph abandoning ship. He told the story that when the ship went down – which would have been soon after this photograph was taken – he was sucked underwater and when he came back to the surface he thought he had gone blind but in fact his cork lifejacket had ridden up over his head! He was not rescued until after dark and then spent six weeks in hospital with an injured leg.

Courtesy of the Strathdee Collection. Click on image for larger version

Oral Recordings

Sid's oral reminiscences are held in the The Royal Naval Submarine Museum in Gosport and the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth and can also be heard by following the links below. The timing/subject key to the recordings provides a very good synopsis of his experiences should you not have time to listen to them..

  • Part 1: 1 hour 2 minutes audio file, a 14MByte MP3 file
  • Part 2: 38 minutes audio file, a 9MByte MP3 file
Session 3 - Deddington Pre-World War 2

A further recording on 3 August 2005 concentrated on the shops and businesses in Deddington before the Second World War. There is inevitably some overlap with the 2004 recording.

Please download this 1 hour 19 minutes audio file, a 18MByte MP3 file

Sid recalled many of the various shops and businesses; the list is linked to a map of their locations

Creative Commons Licence
These works are licenced under a Creative Commons Licence