Bernard was educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, and at Edinburgh University, where he qualified M.B., Ch.B. in 1908. Shortly afterwards he took up medical missionary work in China, where, at the outbreak of war, he was at the Church Missionary Society Hospital at Ningpo. He returned home as soon as he could and took a temporary commission as lieutenant in the R.A.M.C. on 2nd April 1915, then became the medical officer of the 2nd Cheshires in France. He was promoted to captain after a year's service. Bernard was awarded the Military Cross “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty near Vermelles. He spent the whole night of 2nd-3rd October searching for and carrying back wounded who were lying between our own and the enemy’s lines, which were only 200 yards apart. The enemy were firing, and the ground was lit up by flares. After daybreak he carried back three more men under a very heavy fire. At one time he tended the wounded within fifteen yards of the enemy’s trenches. By his courage and ceaseless work all the wounded in his area were brought in.” Bernard was the second son of Colonel Abraham Walker Browne [principal medical officer of the North Irish Coast defences] of St. Kilda, Clooney, Londonderry.