Past Perfect VS Past Simple in the context of previous experience

I have three extracts:

1st:

A: Do you know this man?

B: Yes, I had met him before war, but I haven't seen him since that time.

2nd:

A: Is he a student?

B: Yes, he studies at our university. He worked at our university. He worked at our factory before he entered the university. He isn't working any longer.

3rd:

A: Where does he work?

B: He isn't working now. He's a student. He worked at our factory before he entered the university.

Once I posted the first sentences having asked about the acceptability of using Past Perfect in that context. The answer was that `"war"` isn't a `"reference time"`, so that I had to use Past Simple in the examples 2 and 3, meaning that `"working"` was a habitual action that is no longer valid.

But what does `"reference time"` mean?

• If this doesn't help you understand 'reference time', please tell us why it's unclear. Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 10:43
• @user178049, the second part of the sentence thus conatains the following: RT=ST="now", ET("I haven't seen")<RT=ST. But we also have the first part of the sentence in the above: ET("before it")<RT("past time")<ST("now"). So, I have got two questions: 1) Why "war" isn't reference past time?; 2) both the 1st and the 2nd parts of the sentence form the whole utterance, so if my assumtions are correct 1st part's RT clashes 2nd part's RT. I'm baffled. May you provide me with a full answer? Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 12:52
• I may not, sorry; tenses are out of my area. We have the master of tense here, StoneyB. I hope he would come accross and answer this question. Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 13:13

When you wrote "before" you were describing a point in time, but following it with "war" is incorrect.

You reference a time (before) but are unclear about the specific time.

Writing "war" does not indicate a time.

The correct way to write it would have been:

B: Yes, I met him before the war, but I haven't seen him since that time.

If you want to get really specific:

B: Yes, I met him before WWII.
B: Yes, I met him before the war in (place name).
B Yes, I met him before the war of 1812.
B: Yes, I met him before the war started.
B: Yes, I met him before the war ended.