Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthAugust 11, 1899
Place of BirthKenora, Ontario
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMrs. Mary Savage (mother), 378 Wardlaw Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Trade / CallingClerk
ReligionRoman Catholic
Service Details
Regimental Number693106
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion43rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentWinnipeg, Manitoba
Address at Enlistment378 Wardlaw Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date of EnlistmentAugust 4, 1916
Age at Enlistment16
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 7, 1972
Age at Death73
Buried AtForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
PlotSanct. of Communion, GM, Lot 0, Space 13372

Savage, Bertram Richard

Private Bertram Richard Savage enlisted underage in August 1916 and served with the 43rd Battalion in France and Belgium. He suffered gas poisoning but survived the war and returned home in May 1919.

Bertram was the youngest son of Patrick Richard Savage and Mary Adeline Casey of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Patrick and Mary were both born in New Brunswick. They were married in New Brunswick in 1881 and their first child, Lenna May, was born there in 1883. Not long after that they moved west and two children were born in Winnipeg, Manitoba: William Joseph (1884) and Maude (1886). From there the family moved to Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), in northwestern Ontario. They lived in Rat Portage for about 15 years and had at least seven more children: Marie Ethel (1888), Patrick Stafford, Irene, Mary Susan Adeline, Gertrude, Bertram Richard (11 August 1899) and Ester (1901). The family moved back to Winnipeg around 1902.

Patrick was a railroad conductor for the Canadian Pacific Railway. After moving to Winnipeg he continued to work on the Rat Portage to Fort William route. Sadly, he was killed at work on 21 December 1904 when the engine he was driving collided with a stalled freight train. The accident happened west of Fort William near the small community of Tamarac. Bertram was five years old at the time. His father’s funeral was held in Winnipeg on 24 December and he’s buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery. Mary continued to live in Winnipeg and when the 1916 census was taken eight children were still at home, including Bertram. The two oldest boys, William and Stafford, were both working for the railroad.

The war started on 4 August 1914 and Bertram enlisted two years later, on 4 August 1916. It was a week before his 17th birthday but he passed himself off as a year older. His occupation was clerk and he signed up in Winnipeg, joining the 174th Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Canada). In January 1917 he developed tonsillitis and he was in St. Boniface hospital for 17 days. He trained with his unit for another three months before going overseas. The 174th Battalion left Halifax on 29 April on the SS Olympic, arriving in England about eight days later. The troops were absorbed into the 14th Reserve Battalion to be used as reinforcements for other units.

On 15 October Bertram was transferred to the 11th Reserve Battalion. Three weeks later he was drafted to a front line unit, the 43rd Battalion, and sent to France. He joined them in the field just after the Battle of Passchendaele. The Canadian Corps spent the winter of 1917-18 in the Arras-Vimy area, holding a long section of the front line. The men worked on strengthening the defences and also carried out raids on the enemy lines. On 6 March 1918 Bertram’s unit was in the front line trenches near Avion when they were hit by a heavy artillery barrage, including a high number of gas shells. Eleven men were killed and 80 wounded, including Bertram who suffered gas poisoning.

Bertram spent two weeks in a field ambulance then a week at No. 7 Stationary Hospital. He was evacuated to England at the end of March and treated at the 1st Birmingham War Hospital in Rednal. On 16 April he was transferred to the convalescent centre at Epsom and a week later he was discharged to duty. He served in the UK for the next five months, with the Manitoba Regiment Depot and the 11th Reserve Battalion. He was sent back to France in October and he rejoined the 43rd Battalion for the final four weeks of the war.

The Canadians had captured Cambrai in early October and they continued to advance northeast towards Mons, Belgium. The Battle of Valenciennes took place on 1-2 November and the 43rd Battalion crossed into Belgium on 9 November. The Armistice was signed two days later. Bertram stayed in Belgium with his unit for three more months, returning to England in February 1919. He embarked from Liverpool on the SS Saxonia on 15 May and arrived in Halifax about a week later. He was discharged on demobilization on 26 May in Winnipeg. His brother Stafford had enlisted in May 1918, using the alias Jack George Wright. He served in Canada for eight months but spent most of that time in the hospital.

In December 1920 Bertram left for the U.S., travelling via Seattle, Washington on his way to Los Angeles, California. He was married in Los Angeles on 2 August 1927. His wife, Helen Baker, was born in England to Scottish and Welsh parents and moved to the U.S. around 1923. When the 1930 census was taken Bertram and Helen were living in Los Angeles and he was working as an electrical splicer. His mother and some of his sisters also moved to Los Angeles and his mother passed away there in 1936. Bertram was later widowed or divorced and he married again in 1955. His wife, Mae Smith (née Lettow), was born in Iowa on 31 December 1897, the daughter of Wilhelm Lettow and Emma Lentz.

Mae passed away at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston, Texas on 21 December 1967, just before her 70th birthday. Her residence was Los Angeles and Bertram was the informant for the death certificate. Bertram died in Los Angeles on 7 September 1972, at age 73. Bertram and Mae are buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Some of Betram’s sisters lived in British Columbia but both of his brothers stayed in Winnipeg. William (1884-1942) is buried in Elmwood Cemetery and Stafford (1890-1958) in Assumption Roman Catholic Cemetery.

By Becky Johnson


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