John Stanley Harrison Berresford (1899–1918)


Seaforth Highlanders S/25228
7th Battallion

Training Reserve Battallion

John Stanley Harrison Berresford was born in the fourth quarter of 1899. His parents were John Harrison and Mary Alice Beresford who married in the first quarter of 1900. The Berresford family was recorded under different spellings and even as a totally different name. They were recorded as BERRESFORD, BERESFORD, BERRISFORD and COLLINS.
In 1891 the family are recorded as BERRESFORD. For some unknown reason in 1901 they are named as COLLINS. In 1911 some of the family are BERRISFORD. His army record shows him as John BERRISFORD.

John was a nephew of Frederick William Beresford. He was raised by his grandparents at Crich and Longway Bank. He enlisted in the 7th Seaforths with another under-age Crich volunteer, Nelson Martin Bollington (they had consecutive service numbers). Previously, in Oct 1914 when they were only fifteen they had tried to enlist with the Foresters. John was killed in action in July 1918, having been shot in the head. He was only aged seventeen when he was killed – a newspaper report stated that he was aged 19 which probably reflected the age he said he was on enlistment. He is listed on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium and on the war memorial at Crich.

Medal Index Card
His Medal Roll Cards shows he was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and had three Regimental Numbers. His name was recorded as Berrisford.

Newspaper Report

Derbyshire Courier, 3 August 1918
Crich, Lea, & Holloway
News was received by Mrs Ellen Berrisford of the Town End Crich, last weekend that her grandson Private John Harrison Berrisford, Seaforth Highlanders, had been killed in action. The intimation came from his officer Capt G V Stewart, in a letter written 21st July, which stated: – "It is with deepest regret that I have to inform you that your son, Private John Berrisford, was killed in action yesterday evening. He was engaged in the successful advance on Meteren, when he was shot through the head. Death was absolutely instantaneous. Your son was not very long with those, but he had all the qualities of a fine soldier, and his cheerful disposition was a comfort to us all. I am asked by his comrades to convey to you their sympathy in your loss." Private Harrison Berrisford had lived with his grandmother since infancy. He was 19 years of age. He had been in the Army since April last year. Before enlisting he worked at Wingfield Manor Colliery.

John Berresford's uncle Frederick William Berresford is also on the Roll of Honour.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Initials J
Nationality United Kingdom
Rank Private
Regiment/Service Seaforth Highlanders
Service Number S/25228
Unit 7th Bn
Age 17
Date of Death 20/07/1918
Additional Information Son of Mrs. Mary Alice Harrison, of 34, Bleak Hall, East Kirkby, Notts.
Casualty type Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference Panel 9

War graves certificate for John Berrisford

Soldiers' Effects Book
Berresford John; 7th Bn Seaforth Highlanders; Private 25226; killed in action France 20.7.18; War Gratuity £4 10s 0d; grandmother Ellen received £7 7s 1d on 1.3.19; uncle Samuel received £4 10s 0d on 28.2.20

The following dialogue by Martyn Offord is of an imaginary conversation between Nelson Bollington and his friend John Berresford was enacted at the November 2014 Crich Front Lines memorial event in the Glebe Field Centre in honour of the two under-age friends.

Two lively lads of Crich
(a dialogue)

JB/NB             Two lively lads of Crich are we.  We go together like:
NB                  Bowns
JB                   and Hill
NB                  Crich
JB                   and Carr
NB                  Bull
JB                   and Bridge
NB                  Ross
JB                   and Keen
NB                  Cost
JB                   and Cutter
NB                  (Looks enquringly at JB)  What!?
JB                   and Standwell

JB/NB             Two lively lads of fifteen.  Great fun we had around Crich in those sunny days before the War.
JB                   Fishing in the Derwent in the early dawn
NB                  Trapping rabbits in Crich Chase
JB                   Watching the girls come to market (both nudge and snigger)
NB                  Watching lovers in the hay stacks  (both nudge and snigger)
JB                   Singing along with Daddy Haywood from Top School
NB                  Sandow’s Circus
JB                   Football in the winter
NB                  Cricket in the summer
JB                   Shooting crows in the Autumn
JB/NB             Yea – shooting  (both go off into pretend shooting games)

JB/NB             But there was work too – hard work – thirsty work – dusty work -  a life time of work –
JB                   In the quarry – hard and dusty
NB                  In the pit – hard and dark
JB                   In the factory – hard and noisy
NB                  On the railway – hard and boring
JB                   On the land – hard and muddy

JB/NB             BORING!!

JB/NB             Then that summer of 1914 someone in the village said there was a war on and they were recruiting lads like us.  Hurray – shooting Huns not crows – travel, new uniform, lots of fun and home by Christmas.  (Chant)  no more boring, no more noisy, no more digging in the mud  (Pause – look at each other – their gazes drop and they sigh)
NB                  Trouble was you had to be 18 – but I squared up, tried to shave, sounded all husky and gave it a go – there I am in a photograph with the Crich lads in The Sherwood Foresters December 1914.  But of course all the other lads knew I was just 15 and someone must have said.  So I was told to go home.  It was dead embarrassing.
JB                   Nelson was really upset.  I remember.  We were leaning over the bridge at Whatstandwell dropping stones in the water.  Some of the lads had just come off shift and were in the pub – not so many as there used to be though.  That’s when we decided to have another go – this time where no one would know us.
JB/NB             Yes we went together like
JB                   Jovial
NB                  and Dutchman
JB                   Kings
NB                  and Arms
JB                   Black
NB                  and Swan
JB                   Rising
NB                  and Sun
JB/NB             Pals we were, and chums, and mates and Comrades in Arms.  Yes we joined the Seaforth Highlanders.  We became Scotties – do bagpipe imitations and highland flings etc.
                        9th Scottish Division, 7th Battalion.
And they didn’t know our ages
Always together we were – lively lads of Crich in a Scottish regiment!
NB                  (mock Scottish accent saluting) Bollington, Nelson, Private  S/25227 reporting Sir
JB                   (as above) Berresford, John Stanley Harrison, Private S/25228 reporting Sir
NB                  We didn’t really know what we were here for.  We’d never heard of Wipers though they said that’s where we were.  We hadn’t really heard of Belgium or ‘Plug Street’ but we were two lively Crich lads together.  Even when we got transferred and got new regimental numbers:
NB                  Bollington, Nelson Private S/22354 reporting Sir
JB                   Berresford, John Stanley Harrison, Private S/22355 reporting Sir

JB/NB             We don’t really know what battles we were in – just routine shells falling and shrapnel and flares and snipers and mud and mud and mud.  But we stayed two lively Crich lads together like
JB                   Trench
NB                  and Foot
JB                   Barbed
NB                  and wire
JB                   Whizz
NB                  and Bang
JB                   Machine
NB                  and gun
JB/NB             and Fritz and Hun and cold and wet and fear and sweat and rats and mice and mould and lice and saps and mud and screams and blood.
NB                  But we were always together – then – we weren’t.  I don’t know what happened – there wasn’t a real battle, just one of those routine, everyday things.  It might have been a shell, or a sniper in no-man’s land, an accident with a gun, sucked down into a crater, trampled in the mud, blown to bits – no known grave – not a cap or a buckle a boot or a knapsack.  Just his name.
JB                   On the Ploegsteert Memorial with 11,000 others.  Panel 9.  Just my name – spelt wrong.


1901: Crich

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Frederick Collins Head 44 Navvy Crich
Ellen Collins wife 45   Holloway
Mary A Harrison daughter 20   Holloway
Lilly E Collins daughter 17 Wool doubler Crich
Saml W. Collins son 11   Crich
Martha Ann Collins daughter 8   Crich
Frederick W Collins son 3   Crich
John W Harrison son in law 22 Wire Drawer Crich
John S Collins grandson 1   Crich
Isaac Coleman lodger 33 Limestone quarryman Crich

RG13 piece 3231 folio 42 page 4

1911: Longway Bank, Whatstandwell

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Ellen Berrisford Head (wdw) 55   Holloway
Samuel Wragg Berrisford son 21 Limestone Quarryman Crich
Martha Ann Berrisford daughter 18 Merino spinner Crich
John Stanley Harrison Berrisford grandson 11   Crich
Dorris Agnes Berrisford daughter 8   Crich

RG14PN20984 RG78PN1251 RD436 SD4 ED13