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The son of William and Elizabeth Podmore, Bertram was born on 15 November 1891 in York, Ontario, Canada. The family had moved to Tipton by 1901, and by 1911 Bertram was living with his brother’s family at 79 Beacon Street, Springfields, Wolverhampton. Bertram had become an iron erector for a constructional engineer.

On 21 July 1915, he enlisted with the 175th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery (number 35613). He had served previously in the 4th Battalion of the Shropshire Light Infantry but had been discharged. His address by 1915 was 4 Castle Houses, Hadley, Wellington, Shropshire, and he was a sheet worker. Bertram servwed in Italy and France, and was eventually promoted to Battery Quarter-master Sergeant on 16 September 1918. He was discharged on demobilisation in August 1919.

He married Septima Baldwin in Wellington, Shropshire, on 27 May 1919. In June 1920, there is a report on his pension records from his wife. This states that there were no problems with his health before he joined the army, and “appeared all right” on the three occasions when he came home on leave. When he arrived home after being demobilised he appeared a little thin, but otherwise in good health. After four months of losing weight and complaining of tiredness, he sought medical advice, and he was discovered to have diabetes. The couple had a son, Bertram A., in 1920, but his father, Bertram, died not longer after in Wolverhampton on 21 May 1920.