Bertram Hougham

Bertram was a bank manager in Tonbridge, Kent. His 22-year-old son, who also worked for the bank, was killed in action in 1918.

Bertram Larkin Hougham was born in Ospringe, Kent, on 14 October 1870, the son of Gabriel Lee Hougham and his wife Esther.

In August 1886, when he was 15 years old, he went to work for Union Bank of London. After his apprenticeship he became a clerk in the bank’s Faversham branch.

In 1895 he married Genia Bella Smith, and they had three children together: Bertram, born in 1896; Annie, born in 1898; and Mary, born in 1906. By the time Mary was born, Bertram had become cashier at the bank’s much larger Canterbury branch. In 1908 he was appointed manager of Tonbridge branch.

In May 1914, Bertram’s 18-year-old son Bertram William joined him on the staff of the bank’s Tonbridge branch. He was not, however, there for long. He joined the Inns of Court OTC in November 1914, and was commissioned into the Royal West Kent Regiment the following June. Upon arriving in France in May 1916 he was attached to the Berkshire Regiment, and it was with them that he served on the Somme and in numerous other engagements. He was wounded in November 1916 but returned to active service the following January. In March 1918 he became a company commander, and was promoted to Captain. He was killed in action on 6 September 1918, aged 22.

After their son’s death, Bertram and Genia Hougham received numerous letters of condolence from his fellow officers. One wrote, ‘To know him was to like him. To live with and work under him was to learn how cheery and lovable a man he was and how true a gentleman.’ His last commanding officer wrote ‘although perhaps quiet and unassuming outwardly, I know his personality made itself felt…For his splendid work during the operations near Meaulte and Becordel and Carnoy, August 22nd to 28th, I have recommended him for the Military Cross, and it is a great disappointment to me to know that he has not lived to receive it.’ Captain Hougham’s Military Cross was announced on 1 February 1919, and was subsequently presented to his father Bertram.

Bertram Hougham continued to work at the bank. In 1919 he served on the committee that organised the ‘Peace Day’ celebrations in Tonbridge. In 1922 Bertram moved from Tonbridge to become the bank’s manager in Deal.

He retired in April 1930 and died ten years later, in April 1940.