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VALE: Pte Maxwell John Berridge 22.8.1946 - 24.10.2015

2788440 Maxwell John Berridge (Porridge). 22.08.1946 - 24.10.2015. He saw active service in South Vietnam in 1969 as a driver/rifleman in Admin Company, 6th Battalion RAR.

The funeral service was conducted at St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Glen Innes, 11am Wednesday 28th October 2015 by Father John Carey followed by interment at the Glen Innes Lawn Cemetery.

Max was the beloved son of Tom (deceased) and Nance, dear brother and brother-in-law of Jim, Vicki, Colin & Helen, Greg "Sookie" & Merrin, Cathryn "Topsy" & Garry, Mary & Ray and Theresa "Teasie" (deceased) and much loved uncle of their families.

I spoke with Nance and she has given me permission to send a very personal thank you to all those who sent email condolences leading up to the funeral. Special thank you to:-

6 RAR - John Hunter & Kay McKenzie, Ray & Helen Kohn, Dave & Marilyn Smith, Mike & Robyn Rogers, Jim & Judy Gordon, Grahame & Stephanie Gooding, Wayne & Evelyn Halpin, Rob & Myra Wiseman, Peter & Betty Beauchamp, Richard & Heather Irons, Peter & Karen Collins, Bill & Sandie Snape.

Other Units etc - Peter & Jill Tesoriero (friend), Mandy McFarland (friend), Rob & Kaz Asquith (A Sqn 3 Cav), Ross & Cherie Job (2 Signal Regt), Trevor & Lyn Bunney (7th Signal Regt), Rod & Pam Elkington (9 RAR), Ian & Jan Drew (85 Transport), Geoff & Cheryl Hewitt (7th Signal Regt). 

Copies to Jim Berridge & Editor of the 6RAR magazine.

There was a big contingent of 10th intake folk at Glen Innes to give Porridge a right royal send off. We completely booked out one motel with the overflow at other motels and the caravan park. We arrived as a severe storm cell (70ml over the weekend) was bearing down on Glen Innes. Enormous thunder claps coupled with amazing lightening flashes and damaging hail lasted for a considerable time. We reckoned Porridge was getting upset that a big mob of his mates were in his home town and he wasn't with us. Indeed he WAS with us in spirit.

The cathedral like church was packed to the rafters. Some locals said there were upwards of 400 people present and was considered the biggest funeral in living memory. Local veterans told me it was the biggest presence of returned men they had ever seen. Geoff Dartnell provided an appropriate eulogy which momentarily broke the sadness. He related some excellent stories and summed Porridge up to a tee. Owen placed a slouch hat and a 6RAR sash on the coffin. During the service the members of the local RSL sub-branch provided a fitting tribute under the leadership of Korean & Vietnam veteran Alan Evans (6RAR) and formed a Guard of Honour as the casket was placed in the hearse. Owen took the 6RAR sash and presented it to Mrs Berridge. The 10th blokes also formed an extended Guard of Honour. We all wore the 2015 10th intake green shirt & cap, dress trousers, coat and medals. Porridge was laid to rest in his favourite 2011 10th intake shirt and his favourite signature bucket hat. Very appropriate.

Out at the cemetery we formed up again alongside the 10th intake banner as the casket was taken to the final resting position. After prayers, Owen led the singing of the National anthem. After the formalities, Owen decided to affix a 10th intake poster to the lid of the coffin. As he was doing this his medals slipped off and fell into the deep grave. Porridge was having the last laugh.

The wake was held at the Glen Innes & District Services Club. A place that Porridge knew fairly well. There we presented Mrs Berridge with an enlarged photo of Porridge (cut from a small group photo taken by Geoff Yeomans on the last day at Sawtell) encased in a glass frame with all the names of those present plus the names as per the list above. Mrs Berridge could not sufficiently express herself being emotionally overcome by the moment. We presented her with a beautiful bunch of flowers. We also dropped off some photographs at her home the next day.

That evening, we all congregated at The Railway Hotel - a favourite spot for Porridge as it was a short walk from the back of his home. The publican had a special chair for Porridge and everyone knew it. It was located in a strategic spot near the bar, toilet and racing screens - this is where he paced his bets and everyone knew not to use this chair unless Porridge arrived after 11.30am. We had an enjoyable meal and the evening wore on until it was time for the usual songs which were sung with gusto. 

Porridge was a very likeable chap. He never uttered a bad word about anybody except perhaps a few politicians (concerning a particular campaign medal) and some hopeless jockeys. Despite being a confirmed bachelor, he was a hit with the 10th intake ladies. He would simply say "Hello darlin" and he had them in his hands. His days of droving, shearing and working with horses honed his skills at telling some bloody good yarns. Small in stature, quiet by nature, he had a heart of gold. His bush character was infectious. Both Ross Job, Trevor Bunny and wives recall that it was Max who made them feel genuinely welcomed into the 10th family at Sawtell. My 48 year old unmarried sister-in-law 'fell in love' with Max when they met at Gunnedah's Agquip in August this year. As usual Max shouted everyone with tea, coffee and sandwiches at the CWA stall. Later, when Yvonne's sister heard the sad news, she wept "I feel as though I've known him all my life". We learnt more about Porridge from his large family in a few hours than we previously knew since 1967. He was all set to join us on a cruise of a lifetime with his 10th intake family around this great country of ours in March next year when he was suddenly taken from us. May he rest in peace.

Attendees included:-
From 6 RAR - Alan & Lesley Kruger, Owen & Lynne Puie, Jeff Dartnell, Richard & Yvonne Barry, Bob & Pat Chettle, Billy Ibbs, Ian & Margaret Tandy, Garry & Andrea Jeffress, Max & Carol Dahler, Frank & Julie Douglas, Kevin & Jan Jenkinson, Dick Aubrey, Les & Cindy Woodforth, Bruce Lyttle, Keith & Jan Honess, Lester & Madeline Pickering, Barry & Leslie Maher.

Other Units - Geoff & Dorothy Yeomans (1st Field Squadron), Perry & Barb Condrick (RAEME), Ron & Frances Williams (5RAR), Ian & Diane Cox (5RAR), Ray Stone (RAASC). 

Some of the local personnel (not all) who formed the Guard of Honour at the Church:- Ray Stone (RASC), Phil Perkins (7RAR), Steven Ferris, Jim Berridge (RAN), Phillip Kilhne, Des Bowlay (13th NS),  Peter Campbell, Allan Campbell, Noel Bourne, John Urquart (5RAR), Lt Col (Retd) John Brien (32 Small Ships), Lt Col (Retd) Gail Turnbull (WRANC), Kevin Halliday (RASC).

You are invited to visit (www.tenthintake.com.au) to view several photographs taken at the service and afterwards.

Richard Barry.
November 2015.