Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The story of Bertram Edward began in Wolverhampton when his parents, Samuel Wager and Catherine Perks married in 1875. Samuel, who had been born in 1847 in Stratford, Essex was already an engine fitter by trade and would follow the same occupation for his entire working life. Catherine, who was born in Wolverhampton in 1849, gave birth to the couple's first child, John, in 1877.
In the late 1870s the Wager family journeyed south to Portsmouth where Samuel had obtained a job in the Dockyard. One of their first houses was, according to the 1881 census, at 27 Croydon Road, Somers Town, where their second child Elizabeth May was born in 1882. The youngest of their three children, Bertram Edward was born in 1889, possibly at 36 St. John's Road, off Arundel Street, as that was where they were living at the time of the 1891 census. A further move during the following decade saw them at 34 Stamford Street, close to their former address, at the 1901 census.

That same year Bertram Edward began attending the Higher Grade School on Victoria Road North, but stayed only two years after which he became a pupil teacher at the St. Mary's Road School. He went on to Culham College, Oxfordshire, for a two years' course of training and there obtained the Teacher's Certificate with distinctions in two subiects. When he returned home he was appointed an Assistant Master in the Portsmouth Town School which gave the family two qualified teachers as Elizabeth May was already working for the Borough School authorities. Both of them were still at home for the 1911 census by which time the family had moved yet again, this time to 31 Milton Road.
In 1915 Bertram Edward enlisted voluntarily in the Home Counties Divisional Cyclist Company, but was later transferred to the City of London Regiment, the 13th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. He was raised to the rank of corporal after serving as a private for a few days only. At the School of Musketry, Bisley, he passed as a 1st Class Instructor, and after reaching the Western Front qualified as Instructor in Lewis Gunnery. Also, for a period of six weeks under an O.C., he conducted a map-reading school for officers.
Recommended for a commission, he was just about to proceed to England for the necessary training when he was killed in action a few hours before dawn on the l0th January, 1918. He was laid to rest in the Spoilbank Military Cemetery, Zillebeke, near Ypres, and a few days later a Requiem Mass was held in a neighbouring schoolroom.
The Captain of his Company wrote - "It was a pleasure to command such men as he," and the Chaplain in a letter said - "I know how he was loved by his many chums and respected by all. I had got to know him quite well and I feel really thankful to have met him. I shall always keep the memory of his friendship as sacred. I feel certain that his example and the beautiful simplicity of his character helped me in my work among these men - in his quiet way he had a wonderful influence over the men."
Further Information
The photograph above is taken from a memorial booklet published by Southern Grammar School from which extracts also appear above.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website lists Private BES Wager, (229707), London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), date of death, 10/01/1918. Buried at Spoilbank Cemetery, at Zillebeke, near Ypres, (Grave Ref: II.C.7.).
Bertram Wager is remembered on the Southern Grammar School WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'