Lennard Halliday Bertram was born in Dundas — at 76 Alma Street — on February 10, 1893 to Henry Bertram and Jennie Graham. Throughout the war he signed his name “Leonard”. Len was a member of the 77th Wentworth Regiment of militia. He wanted to farm and at the time of his enlistment was studying at the Ontario Agricultural College at Guelph.
Private Len Bertram was part of the first contingent that left Dundas on the morning of August 22, 1914, bound for Valcartier. In those first days of the war, there was an underlying current of
disorganization. Len and the others participated in basic squad and foot drill and rifle exercises.
Route marches and physical training began to toughen the soldiers in anticipation of the rigours
In November 1914, the 1st Battalion sailed across the Atlantic to begin their adventure. They trained at the Bustard Camp on Salisbury Plain from November until February 1915, when they
crossed the Channel to the front.
The 1st Battalion arrived in France in February and, in April they became part of the Allied move to stop the German push to Calais. On April 22, 1915 the first chlorine gas attack occurred
to devastating effect. It left a gaping hole in the Allied defense, which Canadian, British and French troops scrambled to hold. At some point during the battle on April 23, Len was shot in the face. He was one of 306 wounded soldiers from the 1st Battalion, in addition to 56 dead
and 34 missing. Luckily, he would recover with only a slightly crooked nose, but would feel the effects of the gas attack for the rest of his life.
After being evacuated from the battlefield of Ypres, Len recovered from his injuries at the Red
Cross Hospital in Pembury, Kent. By June, he was back at West Sandling as a Lieutenant
in the 23rd Reserve Battalion. He remained in England for the rest of the year in training. In January 1916, he returned to France as part of the 5th Brigade Machine Gun Company. On May 30, 1916, he joined the 20th Battalion and would serve with them until 1918.
In early April 1917 the 20th Battalion, part of the 2nd Division, was training in the Thelus sector located between Vimy and Arras. The barrage that preceded the offensive had begun and Len
– recently promoted to Captain — reported that until the 9th “there was only the usual trench routine except that our guns were very busy smashing up the Hun”. Len was at HQ for most of
the engagement. The cold and wet weather created miserable conditions for the men of the
20th. Through the night of April 9 they remained outside, consolidating the gains they had made
during the day. April 10 saw them continue their advance. By April 11 the 20th were in the Main Resistance Line in support of the 18th and 21st Battalions. They worked improving trenches, connecting rifle pits, and digging funk holes. By nightfall on April 12, the Canadian Corps had
control of Vimy Ridge. The cost: 3,598 killed and 7,004 wounded. The dead included Len’s friend
Designed as the push to break through the German line, Passchendaele was one of the worst battles of the war, mainly because of the terrible conditions. By June 1917, Len achieved the rank of Major while commanding the “D” Company of the 20th Battalion. The 20th were engaged in Hill 70 throughout the summer and into the fall. Early November saw the 20th inching forward to the front line. Their plans were impeded by the mud and heavy shelling. On November 9, the 20th was at the front line, holding firm in spite of heavy artillery fire. Len was in charge of the front line on November 10. There were, however, pockets of trouble. The 7th Battalion required
help and the 1st Division sent out an SOS to which the 20th responded with a barrage. Len called for support from the 18th Battalion mid-day as he had no support at all at that time. Compounding the relentless artillery fire was the intermittent rain which made which made
conditions deplorable. By November 12, the battle was over for the 20th. Len would never speak
about what happened during those days.
For his bravery at Passchendaele, Len received the Military Cross. The King presented it to him at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in February 1918. Len was granted leave and returned to Canada in April 1918, remaining there with the 1st Depot Battalion. He was struck off strength on November 30, 1918. Len married Edith Sims in 1916. In 1919, his father purchased a farm for the
returning soldier and his wife. Located in what is now Brampton, the couple named the farm “Glen Ardith”. Their three children, John, Mary and Janet, grew up there. During World War II, Len was Lt.-Col. of the Lorne Scots Reserve Battalion, continuing his record of service. He died in 1964.