07 December 2008

Victoria Cross: G. N. and R. B. Bradford


Lieutenant Commander, Royal Navy

Born: 23 April 1887, Darlington, County Durham
Died: 23 April 1918, Zeebrugge, Belgium

Citation: For most conspicuous gallantry at Zeebrugge on the night of the 22nd-23rd April, 1918.
This officer was in command of the Naval Storming Parties embarked in "Iris II." When "Iris II." proceeded alongside the Mole great difficulty was experienced in placing the parapet anchors owing to the motion of the ship. An attempt was made to land by the scaling ladders before the ship was secured. Lieutenant Claude E. K. Hawkings (late "Erin") managed to get one ladder in position and actually reached the parapet, the ladder being crashed to pieces just as he stepped off it. This very gallant young officer was last seen defending himself with his revolver. He was killed on the parapet.
Though securing the ship was not part of his duties, Lieut.-Commander Bradford climbed up the derrick, which carried a large parapet anchor and was rigged out over the port side; during this climb the ship was surging up and down and the derrick crashing on the Mole; waiting his opportunity he jumped with the parapet anchor on to the Mole and placed it in position.
Immediately after hooking on the parapet anchor Lieut.-Commander Bradford was riddled with bullets from machine guns and fell into the sea between the Mole and the ship. Attempts to recover his body failed.
Lieut.-Commander Bradford's action was one of absolute self-sacrifice; without a moment's hesitation he went to certain death, recognising that in such action lay the only possible chance of securing "Iris II" and enabling her storming parties to land.

(London Gazette Issue 31236 dated 17 Mar 1919, published 14 Mar 1919.)


Lieutenant (Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel), 9th Battalion the Durham Light Infantry

Born: 22 February 1892, Etherly, County Durham
Died: 30 November 1917, Graincourt, France

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery and good leadership in attack [on 1 October 1916, at Eaucourt L'Abbaye, France], whereby he saved the situation on the right flank of his Brigade and of the Division. Lieutenant-Colonel Bradford's Battalion was in support. A leading Battalion having suffered very severe casualties, and the Commander wounded, its flank became dangerously exposed at close quarters to the enemy. Raked by machine-gun fire, the situation of the Battalion was critical. At the request of the wounded Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Bradford asked permission to command the exposed Battalion in addition to his own.
Permission granted, he at once proceeded to the foremost lines.
By his fearless energy under fire of all description, and his skilful leadership of the two Battalions, regardless of all danger, he succeeded in rallying the attack, captured and defended the objective, and so secured the flank.

(London Gazette Issue 29836 dated 25 Nov 1916, published 24 Nov 1916.)

Note: One of four pairs of brothers who were awarded the Victoria Cross.