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Bernard was born in Wolverhampton in 1888, the son of Henry and Julia Blackham. In 1901 they were living at 38 Portland Place, Wolverhampton, together with Bernard’s siblings Edmund, Edith, Henry, Agnes and Julia Linda. By 1911, he was a sheet inspector for a sheet galvanizing works, and he was boarding at the home of John Holt in Warrington.

On 31 August 1914, Bernard enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps (number 35109). He served with the 63rd Field Ambulance service from 15 January 1915. On 2 March 1916, he was admitted to the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire General Hospital with bronchitis or pneumonia, and by 4 August 1916 he was discharged for being no longer physically fit for war service. He later died in Wolverhampton in 1919. He is listed on the roll of honour for S. J. & E. Fellows Ltd, so presumably he was employed by them at some point.