Samuel George Herbert Mason MC was born on April 7, 1891 in Moseley, Birmingham, England to Amy (Collins) and Samuel George Mason, a brass-founder. He came from a theatrical family - his aunt was the great Shakespearean actress Ellen Terry. He began his career as an actor at age 16 and appeared in several productions at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Mason's theatrical career went on hold in the First World War. He served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and later commanded the 59th Brigade Machine Gun Corps at the taking of Guillemont during the Battle of the Somme. He was awarded the Military Cross.
In the 1920s, Herbert Mason became an actor's manager and then a stage manager, putting on many of the biggest shows in the London theater of the time. With the advent of sound in motion pictures he gravitated toward films, working for Gaumont British in various production capacities, including assistant director. He was assistant director for I Was a Spy (1933) which was voted the