Bert was born on 29 September 1888, the son of Bartholomew and Sarah. All confirmed records indicate that Bert was his proper name, although he does not appear to be listed on the 1901 Census. There is a boy living in Lancashire, of the right age and called Bartholomew, who was working as a "house boy". This may be the same person.
Nothing is known of Bert's early life, until 27 November 1914, when he enlisted into the army in Toronto. His attestation forms are available online at the Canadian National Archives and allow the reader to form some impression of the man. Bert was unmarried and worked as a farmer, presumably fairly nearby in a more rural part of Ontario. In his spare time, he had been a member of the local militia. He was man of average height for the time at 5 feet 6.5 inches. He had a 37 inch chest which he could expand by a further 2 inches. Bert was of fair complexion with hazel eyes and brown hair. His only distinguishing mark was from a vaccination on his left arm.
At this time, his parents were living at 12 Castle Street, Edgeley (in 2005 Sivori's café). After the War, they had moved to 4 York Street.
Bert's rank of Lance Corporal is marked on his enlistment papers, suggesting that his previous service in the militia brought him an immediate promotion in the newly formed battalion. After initial training, the men left Canada for England in about June 1915, where they undertook further exercises before going to France.
On 2 December 1915, the Battalion, acting as ordinary dismounted infantry, was in trenches at Hill 63. This was near Ploegsteert, in Belgium near the border with France. It rained for most of the day. It was recorded in the Battalion's War Diary that, during the night, the Germans had constructed a barrier of sandbags across the Messines road, about 120 yards in front of the Canadian trench. On the 3rd, the Diary records only that there was "light artillery shelling in the afternoon.
The next day, the barrier was still there and General Seeley (presumably the Brigadier) gave orders for a patrol of the Rifles to go out, into No Man's Land, to see if they could work out was going on. They were given heavy covering fire from the Allied artillery, which successfully kept down the heads of the German troops in the front line. However, the German artillery retaliated by shelling the Canadian front line killing a Captain Mackay, Bert and one other man (name not known) and wounding four others.
Bert and the others were originally buried nearby at the Rosenberg Chateau Military Cemetery. However all the bodies from there were moved in 1930 when it was concluded that the site could not be acquired from the owners in perpetuity.