Intrepid soldier and dairy farmer


JAMES WILLCOX BERRIDGE:JAMES WILLCOX (Will) Berridge, born in Dublin in 1918, was the youngest of five children of Richard Berridge and Eulalia, née Lesley, an American. He spent his early years at Ballynahinch Castle, his parents’ home. His childhood, there and at Screebe was spent among the people of Connemara, for whom he had a lifelong regard.

During the Civil War, the IRA raided Ballynahinch for arms, but otherwise gave it to be understood the house and family were safe. The Berridge family, originally McCarthys, were Catholic, and had their own private chapel.

Educated at Downside school in UK, he befriended a Belgian, Alec van der Straten Waillet, whose sister Pica he would later marry. He studied law at Cambridge but at the outbreak of war, he was commissioned into the Irish Guards.

In 1944 he took part in the Normandy campaign, and later the liberation of Brussels, the Nijmegen battle and the relief of the Sandbostel prison complex; in Germany he was wounded in the leg and ear.

His post-war career took him to Palestine, Greece, Canada, Germany, London, Berlin (where he met Rudolf Hess in Spandau prison), and Cyprus, ending as colonel of the regiment and finally chief-of-staff London District in the rank of brigadier. His last major duty was to co-ordinate the organisation of Winston Churchill’s funeral.

He took early retirement from the army in the mid-1960s and he and Pica bought Carrigbyrne and the surrounding farm at Adamstown, Co Wexford. The farm struggled for the first years but he took the best advice available and changed course.

About 20 years later he handed over a thriving dairy farm to his son Patrick and watched with pride as the business grew and branched into cheese-making and alternative energy.

A modest, fair and thoughtful man, and a devoted husband and father, he and Pica were always generous hosts to their many friends and relations. Pica predeceased him in November 2007.

He is survived by his four children, Veronica, Patrick, Dominic and Bee, eight grandchildren, one great-grandchild, a daughter-in-law and sons-in-law.

James Willcox Berridge: born November 19th, 1918; died May 25th, 2012.