"Their names liveth forever more."

Leading Stoker BERTRAM WOOD, DSM, Royal Navy

1897 - 1942  

The Distinguished

Service Medal

Bertram Wood was born in 1897 in Flixton, near Manchester, the son of Sarah Louisa Wood. In civilian life he was an iron turner and served as a Private in the Royal Marines towards the end of World War 1.

In 1924 he signed on for 12 years in the Royal Navy, renewing his commitment in 1936 by signing on for a further 12 years. Initially he was a Stoker, second class, and was later promoted to Leading Stoker. He was a "big ship" man, and served on many ships well known from that era.

Badges of the ships of the Royal Navy in which Bertram Wood served

My thanks to "Robbie" Burns for providing them. These are the sealed patterns as approved by the Admiralty

Visit his website at www.ships-badges.co.uk

HMS Ark Royal

Aircraft Carrier


HMS Royal Sovereign



HMS Repulse



HMS Renown



HMS Ramillies




HMS Valiant



HMS Pegasus

Seaplane Carrier


HMS Ajax

Light Cruiser


HMS Havock




Bertram's conduct during his service in the Royal Navy was officially described as "Very good throughout", and he received 3 good conduct badges in 1927, 1932, & 1937. In 1939 he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. 

When World War 2 broke out he was serving on HMS Ajax. This ship, together with HMS Exeter and HMNZS Achilles, took part in the famous Battle of the River Plate which culminated in the scuttling of the German pocket battleship Graf Spee. During this action, one of Graf Spee's 11'' shells hit Ajax and caused a fire in the lobby below X turret (one of the 2 gun turrets at the rear of the ship - you can just about see it in the photo on the left below). Through this lobby ran the ammunition hoist which was partly loaded with 30lb cordite bags for the  6'' guns above. Had that lot exploded no-one in the vicinity would have survived, including all the sailors in the turrets above. In fact, if there had been an explosion it's very likely that the whole of the stern of the ship would have been blown off. This fire was successfully brought under control by Bertram, who displayed great courage and bravery, not only in dealing with the fire, but also in dragging a wounded officer from the inferno, thereby saving his life. For his bravery, Bertram was decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal.

   HMS Ajax on sea trials (left) in 1935, and damaged after the Battle of the River Plate in 1939  

In November 1941 he was awarded the Naval General Service (Palestine) Medal, and 2 days later was Mentioned in Despatches for some outstanding deed which has unfortunately gone unrecorded. This is marked by the Oak Leaf Clasp on the 1939-45 War Medal (see below).

In early 1942 Bertram was transferred to the destroyer HMS Havock. Sadly HMS Havock ran aground on 6th April 1942 off the Tunis Coast whilst being fired upon by the Italian Fleet. She was returning from Malta where she had been undergoing repairs. After the ship grounded, the main steam pipe ruptured in the boiler room and 5 stokers were severely scalded, one of whom was Bertram. Bertram was taken from the ship and admitted to the Hospital Militaire, Louis Vaillard, Tunis, where he died of his wounds on 25th April 1942, leaving a daughter and 2 granddaughters.

He is buried in the Medjez El Bab Military Cemetery, Plot 18, Row G, Grave 4. 

Here are illustrations of his medals:

Distinguished Service Medal



Atlantic Star

Africa Star

1939-45 War Medal with Oak Leaf Clasp

Navy General Service (Palestine) Medal

Long Service & Good Conduct Medal