Bertram John William AndrewsBorn Jan - March 1895 - Died of Wounds 31st July 1917
Bertram John William Andrews was the younger of two sons of William and Clara Julia Andrews. His older brother was Ernest Charles Andrews. father William was an engineer and other members of the Andrews family worked in the Stock Exchange. Bertram was at Bancrofts as a boarder between 1906 and 1913. The vagaries of fate were such as to make his generation pay dearly in the Great War and amongst his contemporaries were others of our boys including the Compton brothers, Ferdie Higson, Sydney Chaplin and others. Bertram was a keen English student winning in his year the 5th form English and Scripture prize and later the languages, mathematics and science prize. Bertram was most active in the school’s debating society. Introducing something of a social conscience into the proceedings, he championed the cause of the Trades Union movement only then flexing its muscles on the political scene. The Bancroftian recorded the following:
Bertram won more success on the proposal that this house would favour the construction of a channel tunnel between England and France. Bertram following his passion for English wrote copy for the Bancroftian reviewing the schools concerts and presented talks on subjects such as the ‘Ingoldsby legends’ a collection of poems, tales and musings popular in the Victorian period.
A year younger than John Frederick Paramor Bertram took up the poet’s cause where John left off and was a keen contributor to the Bancroftian. We reproduce here the final verse of his ‘The Country Squire’ which expressed the timelessness of nobility within the family: Though not a natural sportsman, treading in the footsteps of many Bancroftians before and since, what Bertram lacked in skill he made up for with his robust playing of the game in the house match against West house.
Bertram was awarded the monitorship in his final year, an achievement that at the time was rare indeed for a Bancroftian who had never excelled on the sports field. He also achieved honours in his passing of the School Certificate. Leaving school in 1913, he returned to his parents home in Plumstead whilst donating to the school library - HG Wells’ ‘The First Men in the Moon’, Emile Zola’s ‘The Attack on the Mill’ together with ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ and ‘The Elusive Pimpernel’ both by Baroness Orczy.
With the outbreak of the war Bertram joined the 16th Battalion (Public Schools) Middlesex Regiment as a private soldier. The battalion was raised on 1st September 1914 and had proceeded initially to France on November 17th 1915 with Bertram amongst their ranks. Bertram saw service in the line in the following winter and spring but by the summer he was withdrawn from the front for officer training in Ayr. He received his commission on 4th August 1916 and was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Royal Sussex Regiment, 13th Battalion (the South Downs battalion). Here amongst his officer colleagues was his contemporary at Bancrofts Guy Compton.
In the July of 1917 both officers were with their battalions in the Ypres sector which had seen three solid years of war. The Third Battle of Ypres was scheduled to commence in the area of Pilckem Ridge in another herculean effort to release the Ypres salient from the vice like grip it had endured since the autumn of 1914. Betram was attached to the Signal section of his battalion requiring him to lead troops close to the initial advance to ensure telephone and other communication links were laid from the forward posts back to the reserve positions and command. The plan of attack followed the pattern of hundreds before it as the first wave of infantry would advance under a creeping barrage intended to cover 100 yards every four minutes. Then more infantry would follow, advancing in columns. The advance began at 0350 hours on the 31st July and the heavens opened with heavy rain under a leaden sky. The heavens also burst forth with incoming German shellfire. The German defensive preparation had been in depth.
Bertram was struck down in the battle in its earliest stages. A shell burst while Bertram was leading his troops across No Mans Land. Shrapnel from the burst badly wounded his abdomen and side. He was successfully evacuated to the Casualty Clearing Station where he died shortly after he was admitted. Today he lies buried in the nearby DOZINGHEM MILITARY CEMETERY with friends, compatriots "in blood and fire".