Francis David Berry
(ABGS 1943-1948)

David in 1955.

David Berry was born in March 1932, the son of Herbert Lendon Berry1 (Bert) and Glynelen (Lyn), née Protheroe. He was the youngest of the three Berry brothers to go through School between 1938 and 1948. The family lived at the top of Tudor Terrace, very near to the school.

David was a boy who much preferred athletics and rugby to his academic work, but nevertheless he obtained a strong school certificate and then decided to leave after the fifth year.

Although his two older brothers had stayed on into the sixth form, David elected to leave for an apprenticeship at the Aberdare Cable Works, in Trecynon, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

When he had finished his apprenticeship David applied to join the Royal Navy, and was called to Cardiff for a medical examination. He passed everything successfully until he took the eyesight test, which he failed. Consequently he was rejected by the Navy.

Brian at School
David in 1948

So, instead, David volunteered for, and was accepted into, the REME, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, in which his oldest brother, Tony, had been commissioned during his National Service. This gave David a career in which he was totally happy, and in which he served for twenty-two years.

The army took him most of the way around the world, to various countries in Europe, Asia and Australia, including Aden and Cyprus during their times of strife. David was very pleased, during one of his overseas tours, to meet up with Tony, also working abroad, for the first time in thirteen years. After some years he came back to Aberdare to marry Mair Morgans, his youthful sweetheart, who then accompanied David on his tours of duty overseas.

During this time he achieved gradual promotion to the rank of Warrant Officer - Sergeant Major. As a specialist attached to various other regiments, he always maintained a very informal approach other than on the parade ground, and was very pleased when he was told he would serve a tour with the Welsh Guards based in Windsor.

David in St John Ambulance regalia.

He went down to Windsor, to find it by far the loneliest tour of his army life! Whereas virtually everyone else, in all the regiments to which he was attached, called him Taff, and treated him as a good friend, the Welsh Guards treated him with the utmost formality!

The officers, at all levels, always maintained this strict formality, and never addressed him by name - purely by his rank. The sergeants mess members also maintained their distance and David found this ceremonial behaviour to be in stark contrast to what he had experienced in his previous regiments. He wondered sometimes, if any of the other ranks ever saw his face. They would march rigidly into his office, crashing to a halt a few feet in front of him, to address a point in the air about eighteen inches above his head.

The other ranks all addressed this point above him as Sar'major or Sir, and always maintained that complete formality. This compared with everyone outside the Guards, most of whom were more likely to amble in and sit on the end of his desk to chat about the world in general before getting down to business.

Brian on the Prom in Aberystwyth, 1946
David in the uniform of
St John Ambulance, 2007

When the twenty-two years came to its end David and his wife returned to Aberdare, taking over the family home in Tudor Terrace, where they brought up their two children, William and Seren.

The Berry brothers' Aunt Rhona, living in 9 Tudor Terrace, had spent most of her spare time over the years working with various charitable organisations, including the St John Ambulance Brigade, in which, by the time David returned home, she had reached the most senior rank in South Wales. David and his older brother Brian had taken their first St John certificates in their early days in School, taught by the School's ‘Jones the Caretaker’ 2, who, in his time, had also been very senior locally. David joined his aunt, and worked his way through the ranks until, when Rhona retired he took over the senior position from her. He enjoyed serving in that capacity, retiring only months before his death just after Christmas, 2007.


Mair continued to live in the Tudor Terrace home for several years after David’s death. Mair herself died in the spring of 2015.

1 David’s father, H.L. Berry, was also a pupil of the school, he attended from 1910 to 1914. He was the grandson of the well-known Aberdare photographer Joseph Lendon Berry. David's mother, Glynelen Protheroe, was also at the school, arriving as a member of the 1910 intake. Furthermore, Elizabeth Dorothy Berry, David’s aunt, also arrived at the school in 1910.

2 David Jones was not only the school’s caretaker, but an indispensable member of the non-teaching staff of the school. As well as instructing the first-aid class he also provided the first-aid care for boys and staff in the days when the non-teaching staff numbered just two: the Headmaster’s Secretary and the Caretaker. Headmasters and staff have universally praised the loyalty of ‘Davy Jones’ and valued his practical and diplomatic skills highly. He can be seen in the panoramic pictures on this website and in the picture that commemorates the planting of the Coronation Tree in 1953.