In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar


Albert William Thomas (Bert) German


Chief Petty Officer, Painter, 40033, RCN / VR-6025, RNCVR


Born: 17 Dec 1885, Portsmouth, England ( see note 1)


Died: 24 Jun 1968, Vancouver, British Columbia


GERMAN, Albert Thomas William (Bert) was born on December 17, 1885, in Portsmouth. At age 23, he married Jane Elizabeth Breslin on February 21, 1909.


Bert was working as a painter in Portsmouth when the RCN was recruiting (O.N. 40033). He went to Canada with the NIOBE and served aboard it twice and the RAINBOW in the middle. He rose to a CPO Chief Painter. Bert had a camera, which was very unusual in those days and took lots of photos. He also kept a basic log of ship's movements. 


Bert began as a Painter's Mate, an artisan rating. His boss, the Chief Painter, was apparently Italian and an excellent artist, who could draw anything. There is a windscreen, highly decorated, which Bert donated to the Maritime Museum. The NIOBE arrived in Halifax on October 21, 1910, after its transatlantic voyage. Bert was promoted to Painter on July 1, 1911. Shortly thereafter, on July 30th, the NIOBE ran aground off Cape Sable, Nova Scotia. After an ignominious return to Halifax, it remained in the dockyard for sixteen months of repairs.


Bert became a Painter aboard the RAINBOW, remaining in that role until May 8, 1917. On October 1, 1916, while serving aboard the RAINBOW, Bert transferred to the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve, VR-6025. He also passed the Petty Officer educational test. On May 9, 1917, he once again became a Painter on the NIOBE'S crew, remaining in that capacity until November 18, 1919. Having passed the Technical examination and Educational test for Chief Painter on November 19, 1919, he was promoted that day to Chief Painter. Bert returned to England once during World War 1, in 1917 on the RMS Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic.


Bert was demobilized on June 6, 1920. He was awarded the British War medal, the Victory medal, and the 1914-1915 Bronze Star.


On August 18, 1920, Bert's application for Naval Prize Money was submitted to Ottawa for payment. According to his Certificate of Service, Bert was awarded twenty pounds prize money from the 1st District and four pounds from the 3rd District. This money was apparently paid by the British Admiralty.


He died in Vancouver on June 24, 1968.


Note 1:  According to his Certificate of Service, Bert's year of birth is 1886, however, his registration of birth shows he was born in 1885 with his birth registered in January 1886.)


Ships served in:







(AG01) Portrait of Bert German  (AG02) Certificate of Service for Albert Thomas William (Bert) German  (AG03) Ship's movements for HMCS RAINBOW for Jan 1916 - recorded by Bert German






(AG04) Gunnery drills aboard HMCS RAINBOW  (AG05) HMCS RAINBOW in the graving dock, Esquimalt, BC  (AG06) Unknown Royal Marine and ratings aboard HMCS RAINBOW  (AG07) RAINBOW sailors going ashore - location unknown


Photographs and Documents / Courtesy of Peter German

They are not to be reprinted, republished or sold without permission of Peter German



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