Alvin Berry in WWI
By Rodney L Vaughn
This picture was taken while Alvin was stationed in France during WWI. Alvin was 24
years old at the time. The solders in the picture are, left right, Brett E Miller (mechanic),
Sgt. Julian Hampton, and Alvin Berry.
Alvin Berry’s enlistment and discharge dates are unknown, but he was in the 81st
Division, 161st Infantry Brigade, and Company G-322 Inf. This division was stationed in
South Carolina and was nicknamed the ‘Wildcats’. The 81st infantry wore a shoulder
patch with the image of a white wildcat like the patch that is on Alvin’s left shoulder.
They were sent to France in Jul/Aug of 1918. The 81st Division fought in the battles of
‘Lorraine’ and the ‘Meuse-Argonne’ offensive, the last major offensive of the war. He
survived the war and lived to be 71 years old. He lived in San Antonio, TX, and is buried
at the Fort Sam Houston Army Base in San Antonio.
Alvin was my grandmother’s (DeLona Berry) brother.
Letter from Alvin Berry to his father, Spruce Albert Berry,
regarding the death of his mother, Mary Ann Glover Berry
Co. G-322nd Inf.
South Carolina, USA
My Dear Papa,
I know you are sad tonight and you are lonely too, since dear old Mother has left us
and you do not care to live any longer, I expect. But I truly hope that you have
gotten over so much of it as you know that we must all die and we do not know
when. I felt last week and especially on Friday and Saturday, like something was
wrong and then I had your letter Monday evening and I went and wrote Mamma a
letter and then I had one Tuesday evening and I wrote her another and I did not
hear from you all yesterday, so I went and wrote her again. Of course, she was dead
then. Even before I knew that she was sick she had been in the grave for three days.
Of course, you all will get the letters and you may read them. I promised to write to
her every day until she got well.
I guess you were right in not sending us a telegram as we would have worried
ourselves to death and now as it is, we know she was in a serious condition, and I
was really expecting it. I felt like ever since I had the first letter that she was dead,
and I know she was resting in peace instead of worrying about us boys, and
everything else. I think you used good judgment for we do not have money to come
home on. Don't you think that she took too much exposure during the winter? I
kindly thought so myself. You know that she would never give up as long as she
could go at all, and she has done for us all when she was not able to do anything.
She did have a true Mother's part by all of us children. Of course, none of us have
got any money but we must show the world true men and women that you and her
raised in return for your loving kindness. She has written me such cheerful letters
and tried to make this army life more endurable and now she is not with us to know
when we come back, but I'm sure she will know.
I have spent a very lonely and miserable afternoon. I lay in the room on my bunk,
and thought of how I know she suffered, and she loved us all and hated to leave us
here without her guiding hand. You know that she tried to raise us all right. I
thought of you and all of the children and especially poor Lona and Jim. I tried to
keep the tears back and I could not. You know I take everything to heart and never
make so big of a "to do" and hurts me more than some people, but I am being
strong and brave and I shall be alright soon. Of course, it will always hurt me but I
can't forget, and I am going to live as well as pure a life from this day on as I can
live by the help of God.
When you get to where you can bear to write to me about it, I want you to tell me
how she was taken and everything about it. Did she ever call for any of us children
and did she know everything until she took those convulsions? Do not tell me unless
you want to or think it is best. I know that you all took it hard and would have had
I been there. Do not worry so much about Guy and me not being there as it can't be
helped now. How did poor little ole Jim and Lona take it. It is hard on us all to give
up our Mother and it is worse for them anyone I know for we have already shaped
our lives and they have not. You buried her at Union Cemetery, didn't you? How
far from Grandpa's grave did you get from her? I know that she was put away
nicely and I do hate that she is gone. I am so sorry that Lona and Jim must stop
school and go to work. What are you all going to do? When you have studied over
it, write to me and tell me. I just supposed that you all would stay on there and
would keep house and not break up our home. I am going to see what I can do and
see if I can't get to come back on a furlough. I do not have the money but maybe I
can get it some way. I am going to try and get to come. I want to arrange so the
children can go to school next year.
Well, it is getting late and I must study a little bit tonight for I shall take the exam
in a day or two. O course, I can't study but I'll try.
I had a letter from brother, Guy, today and he is working cleaning up a new camp
in Virginia. He is well. His address is the same: Co. F 2nd Bn. 1st Repl. Reg. of
Bugrs., Camp Belvior, Washington Barracks, Washington, D.C. I want to write to
him tomorrow night. I do not feel like writing anyone tonight, so I shall wait until
tomorrow night to write to him. I wrote him last night and Monday night. I want
to write to Lona and Jim, but I can't tonight. I have been crying while I have been
writing to you, and you must try to be cheerful and keep them cheered up. It is a
crushing load to bear, but we must bear up like men and women. Write to Guy and
me, and do the very best you can. I am praying for all of us and you must pray and
believe. I know that our loved one is resting in peace now. We must all meet her. I
know that every one was good to you all, and I want you to thank them for me too.
Lona sure did try to be brave, I know, and she is a woman herself. Jim, we must be
good too, dear Papa, for he is all we have left. Please tell everything when you get
time to write. I can't see to write any more. Your son, Alvin
81st div 161st Inf. Brigade (Alvin Berry’s unit went over seas) JULY/AUG 1918
Campagin Lorraine Meuse-Argonne