On reserve from the Army, he was recalled in 1914 and was tragically killed in action on Christmas Day 1915.
In 1904, at the age of only 16, he joined the Army, starting at No. 6 Depot Great Yarmouth. After 3 years’ service he was placed on 9 years’ reserve.
By August 17th 1914 Bertie (Gunner 19963) was in France as part of the 3rd Division of the British Expeditionary Force supporting the French Army around Mons. His battery consisted of four of only sixteen heavy guns (sixty pounders) of BEF in France at that time.
Bertie was the groom of the Battery Commander, Captain Rupert B. Peters.
On Christmas Day 1915 Bertie left a cellar, in which he was taking cover, to wake two men who were sleeping in a nearby barn. Tragically, a shell hit the barn while he was there. Bertie and 19 year old Mathias Mostyn died of their wounds later that day, and Joseph Anderson died two days later.
All three were buried side by side at Louvencourt Military Cemetery.
A letter to Hertingfordbury
Both were reproduced in the Hertingfordbury War Record in February 1916.
A letter from the Herts Constabulary
He says: “we are all proud to think he died a brave man, fighting for his country”.
The Hertingfordbury War Record
It can be seen from the Hertingfordbury Roll of Honour, published in the Hertingfordbury War Record of February 16, that Bertie’s brother Leonard had also been killed in action, a year earlier. Leonard was also a member of the Hertfordshire Constabulary and the newspaper report of his death is on this website at http://www.hertspastpolicing.org.uk/page/police_constables_death_in_action.
A third brother, Thomas, was serving in the Beds Regiment.
When Bertie died, his wife Emma and four young children were living in Plymouth. His two sons were sent to The Duke of York’s Royal Military school as the sons of a fallen soldier and his two daughters went into service as soon as they were old enough.
Emma married again and went on to have three more children.