June 1, 1921 - March 4, 1945
Pierre Nicola Bernhart was born on June 1, 1921 in Winnipeg, Manitoba to Antoine and Marie Bernhart, who had immigrated to Canada from France sometime after 1920. He had one brother and one sister, both younger. His mother was a widow. The family moved to Vancover. They were Roman Catholic.
He enlisted with the RCAF on April 21, 1942 in Vancouver. He had been working at the Vancouver Hotel as front desk clerk and mail clerk for four years, prior. He indicated he wanted to return to this position after the war. He listed stamps and the violin as his hobbies, with rugby, swimming and tennis as the sport he liked to participate in. "Neat appearance. Pleasant manner, slight nervous tendency. Physically fit for full flying duties. Wants fighter pilot. Keen, alert, cheerful. Better in sports and school suffered in Grade XII. Good motives."
He started his journey through the BCATP at No. 3 Manning Depot, Edmonton in July 1942. He was at No. 7 ITS, Saskatoon by October 1942 ["Smart, fair intelligence; unemotional, good worker"], then to No. 6 EFTS, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on December 27, 1942 [Good average pilot, quite good instrument flying. Had a tendency to be airsick for first few hours. Apparently well over this. Should do well with more experience.] He was 7th in his class. He was transferred to No. 10 SFTS Dauphin, Manitoba on December 28, 1942, where he received his Pilot's Flying Badge, April 16, 1943. [Exceptional student. Quiet, conscientious type with good sense of responsiblity. Appearance very good. Neat and efficient. His work and efforts make him a high average student.] He was 6th in his class.
Bernhart was then sent to No. 2 FIS, Pearce, Alberta in April until July 1943, then sent to 121 Squadron, Darmouth, Nova Scotia until the end of October 1943. He became a member of 123 at Debert November 19, 1943.
At some point, he was sent overseas.
He flew with 439 Squadron. On page 66 of Typhoon and Tempest by Hugh Halliday, it is noted that on August 13, late afternoon, Bernhart was hit in Typhoon MN870, getting home, but with considerable damage. He was tour expired and posted to 83 GSU.
Bernhart was killed on March 4, 1945 at Barmoor, Southmoor, RAF Station Milfield. He was flying Tempest V NV 924 at the time. The cause was determined to be bad weather. Bernhart had been flying low to remain below cloud.