Bertie Louis Hamm

Date of birth: 1885
Place of birth: Alton
Service No.: 216368
Rank: Able Seaman
Vessel: HMS Minerva
Battalion: Royal Navy
Died: 5th June 1918 aged 32 years
Death location: Tanzania


Life before the War
Bertie was the eldest of 5 siblings born to William and Martha Hamm, nee Gilham.  They were both born in Alton, William in 1860 and Martha in 1864  They married in the town in 1884.

By the 1901 census the family had moved to 79 Cranbury Road, Eastleigh, where Martha died in 1903.

At the 1911 census Bertie was in Portland, presumably in training with the Navy.  He returned to Southampton later in the year to marry Gertrude Mary Short and they lived at 22 North Front, Southampton.

Gertrude was born in Southampton on 19 January 1891 and she died in the city in 1977, having remarried (to Reginald R. Noyce in 1919).

Poignantly, Bertie and Gertrude had a son in 1918 (Bertie Louis), who Bertie Snr never saw.  Bertie Jnr died in Southampton, aged only 19 years.

Bertie’s 4 younger siblings were:

Matilda Louisa   b.1887 Alton and  d.1979 Southampton.  Married William Penwarden in Southampton in 1910.

Alice Martha   b.1890 Alton and  d.1968 Hendon.   Married William R. Manning in Hampstead in 1921.

Joseph (Joe)   b.26 January 1891 Alton and d.6 October 1917 at sea on HMS Begonia whilst serving in WWII.  Please select Joe’s name to read more of his story.

Frank   b.1893 Eastleigh and d. 1979 Southampton.   Married Margaret L. Bryan in Winchester in 1921.

War Service
Minerva was an Eclipse-class protected cruiser, launched from Chatham on 23 September 1895.  At the outbreak of WWI the vessel was part of the 11th Cruiser Squadron based in Ireland.  She was detached in September 1914 to join the 5th Cruiser Squadron with responsibility for intercepting enemy merchant shipping trying to return to Germany.

The vessel was involved in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, supporting the landings at Cape Helles and Suvla Bay.

She operated around China in 1916, the Indian Ocean and Red Sea in 1917 and East Africa in 1918.  For most of 1918 she was moored off the island of Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania which was part of German East Africa.  It was here that Bertie was taken ill and died, at the Military Hospital in Lindi, of an abcess on the appendix.

Bertie is buried in the Dar Es Salaam War Cemetery, Tanzania (Plot 7, Row J, Grave 23).  The cemetery was created in 1968 when 660 WW1 graves at Dar Es Salaam (Ocean Road) Cemetery had to be moved to make way for a new road.  The War Cemetery holds 1764 Commonwealth dead from WW1.

Bertie’s headstone is inscribed “ Rest In Peace”.


Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published.: 21st January 2015
Updated: Insert dates here

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