Berry, Ronald "Ras"

Date of birth:
May 3rd, 1917 (Hull)
Date of death:
August 13th, 2000
Nationality:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)

Biography

Service number 78538.

Ronald Berry learned to fly with the RAFVR in 1937 and was selected to fly Spitfires. He fought in the Battle of Britain with 603 Squadron. After a rest from operations and a period as a Fighter Controller in Scotland he was appointed C.O. of 81 Squadron which had just returned from training Russian pilots to fly their Hurricanes. Berry converted the squadron to Spitfires and joined the Hornchurch Wing with which he completed many sweeps including escort work during the Dieppe Raid. On November 8th 1942 he led 81 as the first Spitfire unit to land at Maison Blanche airfield at the start of Operation Torch. As the Allies gradually exerted control Berry was promoted to lead 322 Wing with five squadrons until victory was secured. In total he completed 412 Spitfire missions and was never shot down - an extraordinary feat. In the 50s he converted to bombers and commanded 543 Squadron flying Valiants as Bomber Command took on a nuclear deterrent role. Later he commanded RAF Wyton with Valiants and Canberras. For his peacetime service Ronald Berry received an OBE which was advanced to CBE. He retired in 1969 as Air Commodore.

Promotions:
1937: Sgt
December 1st, 1939: Pilot Officer (probation)
December 1st, 1940: Pilot Officer
December 1st, 1940: Flying Officer
December 1st, 1941: Flight Lieutenant (war sub)
December 1941:Acting Squadron Leader
September 23th, 1942: Acting Wing Commander
March 23th, 1943: Squadron Leader (war sub)
1945: Acting Group Captain
March 26th, 1946: Squadron Leader
July 1st, 1952: Wing Commander
July 1st, 1959: Group Captain
January 1st, 1966: Air Commodore.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Pilot Officer
Unit:
Royal Air Force
Awarded on:
October 25th, 1940
Action:
Citation:
"Pilot Officer Berry has personally destroyed six enemy aircraft, and assisted in the destruction of several others. Through innumerable engagements with the enemy he has shown the greatest gallantry and determination in pressing home his attacks at close range. The skill and dash with which this officer has led his section have done much to assure their successes.
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Squadron Leader
Unit:
No. 81 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Awarded on:
March 2nd, 1943
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Action:
Recommendation : 'S/Ldr. Berry has been on operational flying since the beginning of the war, and at all times has shown himself to be a keen, courageous and resourceful pilot. At Hornchurch and again in North Africa he has acted as deputy Wing Commander Flying in an exemplary manner. He has destroyed 15 aircraft, probably destroyed nine, and damaged many others.'

Covering Remarks of Air Officer Commander, No.242 Group: 'Wing Commander Berry took over the Wing leadership of 322 Wing whilst commanding a Squadron and has led Squadrons successfully on numerous sorties. He has shown great determination and courage over a long period both as a Squadron Commander and Wing Leader. Strongly recommended for the award of a Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross.'
Details:
Second DFC awarded as a bar for on the ribbon of the first DFC.
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Wing Commander
Awarded on:
June 1st, 1943
Action:
Citation:
"In the campaign in North Africa, this officer participated in a large number of sorties and displayed great skill and leadership. In addition he has displayed excellent organising ability, which has contributed materially to the success of the wing he commands. Wing Commander Berry has destroyed 17 enemy aircraft."
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Acting Wing Commander
Awarded on:
January 1st, 1946
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Group Captain
Awarded on:
January 1st, 1965
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Details:
With "BATTLE OF BRITAIN" clasp.
1939-1945 Star
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Details:
With "ATLANTIC" clasp.
Air Crew Europe Star
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Details:
With "NORTH AFRICA 1942-43" clasp.
Africa Star

Sources