Bert was born in Rochester, Kent on 15th February 1885 to parents Edward and Mary Ann.
At the time of the 1891 census Bert was the third son to his parents, with 5 children in total at this time; Ernest, Amos, Lilian, Bert and Agnes. Bert was aged 4 and the family lived in All Hallows parish in Kent.
The family still resided at the same address during the 1901 census - Ernest and Lilian had left home, making Amos and Burt additional providers as farm labourers for the household, made all the more necessary as there were 3 more younger children to raise, sadly all without their mother as Mary Ann had died in 1898 aged 39.
Possible desire to leave a farming life resulted in Bert joining the Royal Navy aged 18, signing for 12 years on 11th December 1903.
He began his Stoker training aboard the depot ship HMS NORTHUMBERLAND.
The rest of his service follows:-
ACHERON - 01/01/1904 - 30/06/1904
PEMBROKE - 01/07/1904 - 29/11/1904
CUMBERLAND - 30/11/1904 - 31/12/1906 rising to Stoker 1st Class 01/07/1906
PEMBROKE II - 01/01/1907 - 31/05/1907
ACTAEON - 01/06/1907 - 05/03/1909
PEMBROKE II - 06/03/1909 - 16/03/1909
NATAL - 17/03/1909 - 09/05/1910 rising to Acting Leading Stoker
PEMBROKE II - 10/05/1910 - 25/05/1910
TENEDOS - 26/05/1910 - 15/07/1910
PEMBROKE II - 16/07/1910 - 11/01/1911 rising to Leading Stoker on 06/01/1911
TRIUMPH - 12/01/1911 - 09/05/1912 rising to Stoker PO on 15/10/1911
PEMBROKE II - 10/05/1912 - 18/10/1912
ST GEORGE - 19/10/1912 - 02/03/1914
PEMBROKE II - 03/03/1914 - 27/03/1914
VANGUARD - 28/03/1914 - 09/07/1917
He had completed 12 years service in 1915 but signed up again on 15th December. He was 5'8" tall with brown hair, grey eyes and had a dark complexion. Following his death, the local paper reported Bert as having a "type of manly beauty" comparable to the Tom Bowling ballad -
Here a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Bowling, the darling of our crew;
No more he’ll hear the tempest howling for death has broached him to.
His form was of the manliest beauty, his heart was kind and soft,
Faithful below Tom did his duty, and now he’s gone aloft, and now he’s gone aloft.
Tom never from his word departed, his virtues were so rare,
His friends were many and true-hearted, his Poll was kind and fair,
And then he’d sing so blithe and jolly, a-many’s the time and oft,
But mirth is turned to melancholy, for Tom is gone aloft, for Tom is gone aloft.
Yet shall poor Tom find pleasant weather when he who all commands,
Shall give to call life’s crew together, the word to pipe all hands;
Thus Death, who kings and tars dispatches, in vain Tom’s life has doffed,
For though his body’s under hatches his soul is gone aloft, his soul is gone aloft.
Bert last visited his friends and family in December 1916 and at 32 years of age was described as looking the very picture of health and strength.
#259 - 52/843
1891, 1901 & 1911 England Census
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 National Archives of the UK; Kew,
Surrey, England; Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; Class: ADM 188; Piece: 498
National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Service Registers and Registers of Deaths and Injuries. Registers of Reports of Deaths
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242; Piece 007 (1914 - 1919)
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/7; Scan Number: 0233
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 ADM 171; Piece: 95