Bertram’s father was a District Judge in the Ceylon Civil Service and after retiring he and his family lived in London. Bertram came to LWGS as a boarder and stayed until 1911.
Sometime after leaving school he joined Mr Philip E Farr FSAA as an articled clerk and began his training to become an accountant. In December 1914 he volunteered to join the crew who were preparing to sail on HMS Clan McNaughton. His role was to act as Clerk to the ship’s captain Commander R Jeffreys.
The Clan McNaughton was a 4985 ton passenger cargo vessel, built in 1911 and requisitioned November 1914 from the Clan Line Steamers Ltd, Glasgow, becoming an Armed Merchant Vessel and formally commissioned on December 7th 1914; she left Sheerness on December 15th and arrived in Liverpool on January 17th; she left Liverpool on 23rd and sailed ‘to the north’ but was back (according to Naval records) by the week ending 31st January.
There after she left again and was last heard of at 6am February 3rd when she was in the Atlantic north of Ireland and west of Scotland and when she made ‘a wireless signal to HMS Hildebrand.’
No distress signal was received and no wreckage or survivors was found by HMS Hildebrand – who searched until 5th February. The Clan McNaughton was therefore presumed sunk on 3rd February with the 281 strong crew.