Home Page

426324 Captain (E. & M. O.)
(formerly 1870203 Warrant Officer Class I)
Royal Engineers

Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
Ó 2003. All Rights Reserved.


This research work was begun when the author acquired Captain John William Bradford's military medals from a dealer in England. An obituary published in The Sapper magazine provided data regarding his death, which then permitted the author to obtain his death certificate and information regarding the address of his wife, Mrs. Beryl Frances Bradford. Mrs. Bradford expressed great interest in having her husband's story told; hence, the author embarked on this work with the intention of supplying one copy to Mrs. Bradford and one copy to the library of the Corps of Royal Engineers.

Unless otherwise noted, the details supplied in this narrative were extracted from Captain Bradford's service records, a complete set of which was obtained from the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow by Mrs. Bradford. A list of the contents of his service papers is included under References at the end of this narrative. This set of service papers was particularly unique and useful because the Army Personnel Centre actually copied every document in Captain Bradford's file. Previously, when the records were kept by an office of the Ministry of Defence, such a request from next of kin would result in a three- or four-page typewritten statement of service (SOR) transcribed from the service file. The author has had experiences with these transcriptions and has always wondered who made the decision as to which data in the file was important enough to include in the SOR. One also wondered how many errors had been made in the transcription. The Army Personnel Centre letter accompanying Captain Bradford's service record contained the following, almost apologetic statement from the Administrative Officer of Historical Disclosures:-

"Due to a very high volume of urgent welfare requests on behalf of former soldiers, this office is now experiencing a backlog of several months of family history enquiries.

Therefore, rather than a statement of service transcribed from the service file, I am enclosing a complete copy of the Record of Service (ROS) and other relevant documents from the service file for the above named and I hope that this meets your requirement."

It is understandable that the sheer volume of documents, military jargon and abbreviations contained in an ROS could easily confuse a family member who was not accustomed to reading such documents. In this case, however, both Mrs. Bradford and the author were absolutely delighted with the quantity of information received. It suited our particular needs much better than "a statement of service transcribed from the service file." It is hoped that in the future the Army Personnel Center will adopt a policy whereby they give the next of kin the option of receiving the transcription or the complete file.

In addition to his service papers, much information was obtained from letters written by Captain Bradford to The Sapper magazine [1]. Captain Bradford was a prolific writer of letters to the editor. The author found 12 of his letters in issues of The Sapper between May of 1959 and November of 1999. Undoubtedly there were more that the author did not locate. Most of these letters were written after his retirement from the Army. They provided very interesting information regarding his Army service. Many of the letters are reproduced in this narrative in their entirety as they provide wonderful anecdotes related to the life of Bill Bradford.

The Sapper also was useful in other regards as will be noted by the number of editions of the magazine that were consulted for this work. With Captain Bradford's postings and geographical locations known from his service record, it was possible to following his career chronologically through The Sapper to determine what the units to which he was assigned were doing at the time that he was serving with them.

The text and footnotes of this work also contain information intended to expand the reader's knowledge of certain historical facts that may not be readily known to everyone. In some cases terms and abbreviations have been explained in perhaps more detail than is necessary for someone familiar with the historical facts or with military terminology; however, the author felt that more information was better than not enough in most cases.

It should be noted that Bill Bradford's rank is given in the text of this narrative as the rank he held at the time of the events being described. It is hoped that this is not confusing to the reader. For clarification, the reader should refer to the table in Section 6, which shows the dates of his various promotions.


John William ("Bill") Bradford was born in the parish of St. Lukes in the town of West Hartlepool, County Durham on the 3rd of December 1913. He was the son of John William Bradford, a Confectioner, and Harriet Bradford (nee Bird) of 19 Suggitt Street in West Hartlepool. Young Bill's birth was registered in the Sub-district of West Hartlepool, in the District of Hartlepool, in the County of West Hartlepool C.B. on the 13th of January 1914 [2].

From 1919 to 1925 Bill attended the Jesmond Road Elementary School in West Hartlepool. Upon his graduation in 1925 he won a scholarship to West Hartlepool Grammar School, which he attended from 1925 to 1928. His military service records show that he passed his studies in mathematics and physics with distinction and passed the remainder of his subjects for credit, all except geography, which he failed. His aptitude for technical subjects emerged early in his life and his success with mathematics and physics would benefit him in his later studies and when he attended various courses and passed various trades tests while in the Army. Also, his knowledge of geography would become very much improved by his military service, as the Army sent him to many stations abroad where he would have ample opportunities to learn the locations and cultures of many countries.

From 1929 to 1933 Bill Bradford attended the Evening Technical College of West Hartlepool Grammar School. During the day he worked as an Apprentice Marine Engineer (Fitter) for Richardson & Wesgarth Company Limited, in Hartlepool. Richardson & Wesgarth was both an engine works and a firm of marine engineers. During the evenings Bill attended the Technical College where he studied courses in Marine Drawing and Design. In 1932 he earned a National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering.

Bill Bradford had a special place in his heart for West Hartlepool Grammar School. He became a life member of the school's Old Boys Association and attended their annual reunions whenever he had the opportunity to do so [3].

Upon the successful completion of his studies at the West Hartlepool Evening Technical College in 1933, Bill Bradford decided to join the Army. His mathematics and science skills led him to consider one of the technical corps of the Army and the Corps Royal Engineers must have seemed a natural choice for him. The Royal Engineers were interested in him as a recruit, since he possessed many of the skills required by them in their work. His skills as an Apprentice Fitter certainly would be most useful to the Corps.


The following is a description of John William Bradford as a young man, specifically at the time he enlisted in the Army in 1933:


19 years and 6 months.


5 feet 7¼ inches.


162 pounds.

Chest (expanded):

38-1/8 inches.

Chest (normal):

35-1/8 inches.







A photograph of Bill Bradford, supplied to the author by his wife, shows him at the age of 4 years with a very full head of curly hair. Another photograph shows him in a swimsuit on a beach in Hong Kong at some time during the years 1935 to 1938. In this photograph he has a lean, sinewy physique and a head of dark, wavy hair. Photographs of him as an officer in the 1950s show him with a heavier build than when he was a young Sapper, but he still appears to be in good physical condition with the same full head of brown, wavy hair. Bill Bradford kept active with sport during his life and was still a strong swimmer at the age of 84. A photograph of him in a swimsuit in 1997 shows him with an enviable physique for a man of his age. He still had a fine, full head of hair in 1997, albeit then snow white.


Enlistment and Attestation (1933)

Bill Bradford enlisted in the Royal Engineers at Durham on the 9th of June 1933. At the time of his enlistment he was asked the usual questions put to a recruit prior to attestation. To these questions he responded that he was not married and that he had been living with his parents up to the time of his enlistment. He stated that he had no prior naval or military service, that he had never been rejected for service and that he had never been convicted of a crime by civil power. He also stated that he was a Methodist.

Bradford's Certificate of Military Examination was duly issued by a Captain D. Connor, the Army Recruiting Officer for the Durham Recruiting Sub-Zone. Captain Connor found him fit for service in the Royal Engineers, undoubtedly because of the skills Bill had acquired prior to enlisting. Captain J.R. McDonald of the Royal Army Medical Corps provided his Certificate of Medical Examination and found him fit for service in the Army. Bill Bradford swore the Oath of Attestation for the Regular Army on the 9th of June and was officially proclaimed a Sapper in the Royal Engineers and issued Army Number 1870203.

On the 12th of June 1933 Sapper Bradford reported to the Training Battalion Royal Engineers at Brompton Barracks in Chatham, Kent. The Training Battalion at this time was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel W. Cave-Browne, D.S.O., M.C., R.E. Cave-Browne was the officer who signed the Certificate of Approving Officer on the 26th of June 1933 to make Bill Bradford's attestation in the Royal Engineers official.

Recruit Training (1933-1934)

Sapper Bradford was assigned to "B" Company of the Training Battalion where he would undergo the necessary training to make him into an engineer soldier. He had certain advantages going for him when he reported to the Training Battalion. His apprenticeship prior to enlistment enabled him to immediately pass the Class III trade proficiency test as a Fitter. On the 30th of June 1933 the Commandant of the School of Military Engineering at Chatham was able to issue him a Certificate of Trade Proficiency as a Fitter, Group "A", Class III. It was unfortunate for Bradford that the trade of Fitter at his level of proficiency was temporarily closed to recruiting. He was therefore mustered as a Pioneer (Fitter), Group "E", Class III. This lower proficiency classification meant that he could not be paid as a Group "A" Fitter until a vacancy became available for him, thus he initially received a lower rate of pay.

Under the close scrutiny of Corporal Robert English, his section NCO, Sapper Bradford and his section mates [4] in "B" Company underwent the rigorous training that would turn them into first class soldiers. But Bradford did not concentrate only on his military studies. He found time at Chatham to continue his academic studies and earned both a 3rd Class and a 2nd Class Certificate of Education while undergoing recruit training. The 3rd Class certificate specified the standard for promotion to the rank of corporal. To qualify for this certificate the candidate was to read aloud and to write from dictation passages from an easy narrative, and to work examples in the four compound rules of arithmetic and the reduction of money. A 2nd Class certificate, necessary for promotion to sergeant, entailed writing and dictation from a more difficult work, familiarity with all forms of regimental accounting, and facility with proportions and interest, fractions and averages [5]. Thus, by applying himself to his studies and by securing these certificates of education early in his Army career, Bill Bradford was able to pave the way for promotions to the non-commissioned officer ranks.

Sapper Bradford's time at Chatham lasted for nine months when, after the successful completion of his training, he was posted to his first field unit.


Blackdown (1934-1935)

On the 22nd of March 1934 Sapper Bradford was posted from Chatham to the 1st Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Battalion at East Frith in Blackdown [6]. Upon his arrival at East Frith he was assigned to a Searchlight Section in "C" Company of the battalion. While Sapper Bradford was learning the fundamentals of anti-aircraft searchlights at Blackdown, the 22nd Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Company was being formed in Hong Kong. This company was organized on the 1st of October 1934 under the command of Captain P.F. Foley, R.E. [7] Captain Foley was assisted in the formation of the company by Lieutenant G.R.C. Hamilton, R.E. and Company Sergeant Major W. Singlehurst [8]. While it awaited reinforcements from Blackdown, the cadre of the 22nd Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Company was quartered with the 40th (Fortress) Company, which was already in Hong Kong [9].

Hong Kong (1935-1938)

Sapper Bradford departed from Blackdown on the 19th of January 1935 with part of the new draft of men bound for Hong Kong and the 22nd Company. His searchlight detachment proceeded to Southampton where the men boarded H.M.T. Somersetshire bound for the Far East. After about a month at sea they disembarked at Hong Kong on the 24th of February 1935 and were billeted in the Main Block of Wellington Barracks [10].

As soon as Sapper Bradford and the other men of his detachment were settled in at Wellington Barracks, Captain Foley started them on some rigorous training that involved fieldworks, night wiring, demolitions, light trestle bridge construction, a Kapock assault and construction of an oil drum ferry in support of an exercise with the Lincolnshire Regiment. In March of 1935 H.M.T. Somersetshire arrived in Hong Kong with an additional 128 Non-Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks aboard who were to be assigned to the 22nd Company [11]. Captain Foley quickly put these men and the rest of the company to work with drill, rifle musketry, Lewis gun training and a combined exercise with all services in Hong Kong. During this month the company also underwent annual inspections by the Chief Engineer, the Commander Royal Engineers and the General Officer Commanding Hong Kong. In August of 1935 the 22nd Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Company was redesignated the 22nd (Fortress) Company, Royal Engineers. Training continued during this month with the men involved with map reading and signalling using Morse code and semaphores. In November the company was involved in trade training for the men and the preparation of searchlight positions as part of their primary mission of harbour defence for Hong Kong [12].

The preceding paragraph describes the annual training cycle of the 22nd (Fortress) Company, a cycle that generally was repeated every year between the months of February through November. Although this training was very important for the men to maintain their basic skills as soldiers, the primary mission of the company was equally, if not more important. This mission involved not only anti-aircraft searchlight operations, but also the construction and maintenance of defensive positions in and around the port facilities of Hong Kong in the company's new role as a fortress company. These duties were performed throughout the year, even while the men were in the annual training cycle. Sapper Bradford performed these duties for over three years while in Hong Kong, serving his final year there as a Lance Corporal.

Bill Bradford remembered his days in Hong Kong fondly when in January of 1975 he wrote a letter to The Sapper on the occasion of the death of his old commanding officer. Bradford wrote:- [13]

"I should like to pay a tribute, which I know will be echoed by all Sappers who served in 22 Fortress Company in Hong Kong between 1935 and 1938, to Brigadier P.F. Foley, who died in late 1974.

Captain P.F. Foley, then O.C., 22 Fortress Company, was at all times approachable, kind, and in every way an officer and a gentleman. As a cricketer he was a splendid captain and no mean batsman - always ready to help the new player to feel part of the team [14].

Also, to those members of 22 Company who moved from East Frith, Blackdown, to Hong Kong in 1935, I would like to recall Joe Finney, especially to those who were in the Searchlight Detachment of No. 1 Searchlight Battalion, Blackdown, and who had Joe as Detachment Commander. I still look where the hut in East Frith stood, as Blackdown is within my area of D.W.O. Camberley, and I wonder where are all the chaps who lived in "Happy Valley" (East Frith) in those far off and, to me, happy days?" [15]

Gosport (1938-1939)

Lance Corporal Bradford embarked aboard H.T. Dilwara bound for England on the 4th of April 1938 upon completion of his tour of duty in Hong Kong. He disembarked at Southampton on the 6th of May 1938 and on the following day he reported to his new unit, the 4th (Fortress) Company, Royal Engineers at Gosport, Hampshire [16]. On the 9th of September 1939 he left the 4th (Fortress) Company for an assignment with the School of Electric Lighting at Gosport and he remained there until February of 1939 when he was again posted to Chatham.

Chatham (1939)

On the 25th of February 1939 Lance Corporal Bradford was posted to "M" Company of the Depot Battalion Royal Engineers at Chatham for the purpose of attending No. 14 Mechanist (Electrical & Mechanical) Course. While attending the course Bradford decided that he enjoyed Army life, so on the 13th of March 1939 he extended his engagement to complete 12 years with the Colours. In July of that same year he was promoted to the substantive rank of Corporal. Corporal Bradford successfully completed the course on the 6th of October 1939 and as the Second World War was already a month old, his was the last Mechanist Course to be held before the war forced the elimination of future courses.

Colchester (1939)

After graduation from the course at Chatham, Corporal Bradford was posted to No. 4 Training Battalion Royal Engineers at Colchester in Essex. This was a newly created training battalion that was formed to handle the increasing training needs of the Royal Engineers during mobilization for the war. Bradford was assigned to "A" Company of the battalion on the 14th of October 1939 and while serving at Colchester he was appointed to the rank of Acting Lance Sergeant. His stay at Colchester was a short one however, as his skills as a Mechanist were urgently required elsewhere. On the 19th of October 1939 he was assigned to the Temporary Establishment for Engineer Services (TEES) in preparation for duties in France.

Aldershot (1939-1940)

Lance Sergeant Bradford was posted to his new duties at Willem Barracks in Aldershot, Hampshire on the 11th of November 1939. On this same date he was appointed to the rank of Acting Mechanist Staff Sergeant. It was during this month of November 1939 that the Royal Air Force began making plans for the establishment of airfields in France to provide air support to counter the German advances on the continent. These RAF plans were to have a profound influence on Bill Bradford's immediate future.

The maintenance and provision of aerodromes by the Royal Engineers in support of the Royal Air Force was one of the most important R.E. developments of the Second World War. It had been recognized early on that preparation of the surfaces of aerodromes and the provision of aeroplane hangars would be the duty of the Royal Air Force, but the necessary labour and material would be supplied by the Army; namely, by the Royal Engineers [17].

The British plan for the deployment of the Royal Air Force to France provided for two air contingents. The first contingent was known as the Advanced Air Striking Force (A.A.S.F.) acting independently of the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.). This force was to be based on aerodromes to be taken over from the French, mostly in Champagne. An engineer force consisting of an Army Troops company, one Road Construction company and two companies of the Pioneer Corps, all under the Commander Royal Engineers (C.R.E.), Lieutenant Colonel E.T.G. Carter, R.E. was allotted to the A.A.S.F. [18] The second contingent was the Air Component, B.E.F., consisting of those air formations that would act in direct cooperation with the Army. This force would operate from such French aerodromes as might be available in the vicinity of B.E.F. units in Picardy and Flanders [19].

France (1940)

These plans were set in motion while Mechanist Staff Sergeant Bradford was at Aldershot preparing for deployment to France. On the 4th of January 1940 he was posted to the C.R.E. Works (Aerodromes) in Rheims, France, but he did not leave immediately for the continent. For some reason not stated in his military service papers he was made to revert to the rank of Corporal before departing for France. It may be assumed that while he was at Willem Barracks he was serving in a position that required him to hold the temporary rank of Mechanist Staff Sergeant and that on reassignment to France this temporary rank was no longer required. Bradford was alerted for embarkation on the 2nd of February 1940 and actually proceeded from Aldershot to his new assignment in Rheims on the 9th of February, disembarking in France on the 13th of the month. He was reinstated to the rank of Mechanist Staff Sergeant soon after his arrival in France.

The Royal Air Force unit based at Rheims when Bradford arrived there consisted of 226 Squadron, which formed part of 76 (Bomber) Wing of the Advance Air Striking Force. 76 (Bomber) Wing was commanded by Group Captain H.S. Kerby and consisted of three operational squadrons and one reserve squadron. The other two operational squadrons in the wing were 12 Squadron at Amifontaine and 142 Squadron at Berry-au-Bac. Each of the operational squadrons was equipped with 16 Fairey Battle Light Bombers. 98 Squadron, located at Nantes, acted as a reserve for the operational squadrons.

The Fairey Battle was an elegant looking single engine monoplane designed in 1937 as a bomber. Unfortunately, its looks did not count for much in combat. It was too big for its single Merlin engine and it was not fast enough or well enough armed to hold its own against the far superior German fighters. The Battle was quickly found to be woefully vulnerable and the Luftwaffe shot it down quite easily during the period known as the "Phony War."

The aerodrome operations at Rheims demanded considerable resources in plant and materials. The Air Component aerodromes received large quantities of construction equipment, whereas the lower priority airfields of the A.A.S.F. received only tractors, ploughs and rollers. Most of the A.A.S.F. aircraft actually operated from grass-covered airstrips. However meager the resources of the A.A.S.F. aerodromes, Mechanist Staff Sergeant Bradford and the other Royal Engineers assigned to these fields were required to keep the electrical and mechanical components of the equipment operational. In a letter to the editor of The Sapper in August of 1979, Bradford wrote the following of his experiences with the B.E.F. during the period of the "Phony War": [20]

"In the 28 years I served in the Royal Engineers I consider that one of my most interesting and pleasant postings was to BEF in 1939/40.

A few of the ex-14 E&M Mechanist Class who had been posted to No. 4 TBRE in Colchester in October 1939 were promoted to Ssgt Mechanist and posted to one of the three CRE staffs operating with the RAF in France. Ssgt Matthews and myself were posted to CRE Works (Aerodromes) in Rheims, where we met up with Ssgt Bill Craig. Apart from the preparation of gun sites and landing strips for AASF, we also had to prepare an underground Operations Room for the RAF (Code Name 'PANTHER'), which was located in the cellars of 'Chateau Polignac' (or Chateau Pommery). Adjacent to the cellars were the huge vats for the champagne; need I add we developed a liking for this beverage! Other than a few Support RE Units (103 Army Troops Coy) there were not many British troops in Rheims and, during the 'phoney war', we enjoyed Sunday afternoon dances at the 'Hotel Dejer' and the occasional meal in the French restaurants. The main snag was the Asiatic type toilets (pour les hommes!), but occasionally a restaurant would boast a WC!

During the 'phony war' propaganda leaflets were dropped from AASF HQ over Germany, and vice versa. I can recall the dropping of toilet rolls on which was a portrait of the Fuehrer! However, life to May 1940 was most pleasant, except for the very severe winter in early 1940. The journey in early January from Willems Barracks [21] in Aldershot to Rheims, by motorcycle, was rather unpleasant, especially as the French were not at all helpful regarding accommodation for the British Allies [22]. I recall the French contact at Alençon saying it was necessary to 'dormir dans leur camions', and that about sums up their attitude at that time. The German 'Blitzkrieg' in May 1940 woke us all up with the systematic bombing of Rheims and environs; the gun sites and airstrips were bombed daily at 0600, 1400 and 1800 hours. I can recall a couple of bombs falling in the grounds of the Chateau. Early one morning - when we arrived at work after the 'all clear', the RAF had decided to move, and we never saw them again; so much for the operations room in case of bombing! [23]

In spite of the Germans advance, we had no information on the war situation. Dunkirk came and passed without our staff being aware of the BEF danger. However, came the day, at 0500 in the morning, when the Military Police arrived to say we had to move quickly, and we all dispersed to a small village called 'Malsherbes', but only for a few days. We then moved further south to 'Vendome' where we proceeded with the charade of airfield construction. For my part I was billeted with a young butcher, his wife and small daughter. Gradually the stream of refugees increased through the village; the butcher gradually becoming more and more worried until he decided to move on himself, leaving me alone with the butcher's shop! It must have been about two days before the capitulation of France, when once again we were told to 'drop everything' and proceed the best way we could to Rennes. The officers proceeded with their vehicles and kit and we managed with a lorry produced from somewhere the best way we could; we met up later with the officers in Southampton. Arriving at Rennes after a most uncomfortable journey, not helped by the natural French civilian attitude to the departing allies, we stopped off at what had been the location of an Engineer Railway Co. We had collected a few stragglers by then, mostly Pioneer Corps, who opened up the NAAFI (still with all the stock!), Quartermaster Stores, etc, and they had rather a 'boozy' time, decked out in new BD trousers, but with various football jerseys to enliven the proceedings. We were all pretty hungry and I recall having part of a chicken from the Officers' Mess and a couple of bottles of 'Grand Marnier' liqueur, which had to last me to St. Malo. We moved from Rennes in the lorry, arriving about two miles outside of St. Malo at 0400 in the morning, where Military Police ordered us to park the vehicle and proceed on foot to the port of St. Malo. Some of the Pioneer Corps had filled their kit bags with cigarettes etc, from the NAAFI, which then became an intolerable load as we marched in the warm morning sun. So many of them dumped their bags en route, but a few keener types managed to stagger along with their bags to the harbour. Whilst sitting around waiting to board whatever was to take us to England, a German Heinkel came over low, but fortunately the heavy mist must have put him off, as he left after a destroyer had opened up with AA fire. The sad part that day was that over the other side of the peninsular, the 'Lancastria' was being bombed in St. Nazaire. The other two CRE (Works) staffs had proceeded to that strip and I was sorry to hear later that an old pal of No. 14 Class, Ssgt Bateman, had lost his life there [24]. When we were allowed aboard the cross-channel steamer, the gang plank was guarded by two Naval sentries who allowed only one's equipment to be taken aboard, to the dismay of the hardy few who had staggered to the landing pier with their kit-bags.

We proceeded to England, fortunately without incident and landed at Southampton. There we spent the night in a school before moving north to Leeds, where we met up with many of the RE we had met in France."

In another letter to the editor of The Sapper [25] Bill Bradford described his work with a field lighting unit used in France by the B.E.F. He worked with a rather complicated piece of Ordnance equipment fed by a 4½ kilowatt Petters petrol engine that had been issued to the Corps Troop Engineers. His work with this equipment took him to the Base Hospital in Esperney in March of 1940 to check the engine and to advise the OC of the hospital as to its function, but particularly to explain to him what all the most peculiarly named wires were all about. As the hospital had no handbook to describe the equipment or its operation, this was a rather difficult task and one that certainly was beyond the technical abilities of the hospital staff. Bradford's skill and training as an Electrical and Mechanical Mechanist enabled him to sort it out and provide the Base Hospital with much needed lighting to perform their essential medical work.

The importance of the support rendered to the Royal Air Force by the Royal Engineers is perhaps best summed up in a letter that Captain Bradford wrote to the editor of The Sapper in June of 1980. In this letter Bill wrote:-

"Those of us who served in RE units during the last war will be aware of the various bawdy songs we sang, usually in our cups, and many of these songs were also known to the general public, albeit usually with more printable words. However, there was one song we sang in Rheims during the 'phoney war' of 39/40, which I had never heard before, nor did I hear it afterwards. Recalling that we were attached to the RAF Headquarters ('Panther'), the song went as follows:-

'We are the Royal Engineers,

We'll get old Jerry, by and by;

Every man in the Regiment,

Is willing to do or die.

We are the Royal Engineers,

Second to the Navy on the sea,

If it wasn't for the Royal Engineers,

Where the Hell would the Air Force be?'

The tune was not one that can be referred to any well known song, and I would be interested to hear if any other Sapper can recall this tune, and where it originated."

In October of 1980 ex-Warrant Officer Class 2 C.N. Walker [26] wrote the following letter from Swansea to The Sapper in response to Bill Bradford's letter:-

"The song Capt. Bradford refers to is, I think, an old RE Searchlight one, the actual words being:-

'Please don't take away the old RE, you'll miss them bye and bye,

Please don't take away the old RE, they're ready to do or die.

Remember what Sir Henry Clouston said,

"We're next to the Navy on the sea.

So please don't take away the old RE,

or where would Searchlights be.'

Bill Bradford should remember the 'Boozers choir' of the old 22 Coy at Hong Kong, 1935-1938. All good wishes Bill."

Tunbridge Wells (1940)

Mechanist Staff Sergeant Bradford arrived at Southampton on the 2nd of June 1940, but it was not until the 17th of June that 226 Squadron along with the remainder of the A.A.S.F. was withdrawn from France [27]. After a short stay at Leeds in West Yorkshire, Bradford was posted to 265 Corps Field Park Company at Tunbridge Wells in Kent. This company formed part of the 12th (Eastern) Infantry Division. This too was a short stay, as both the 12th Division and 265 Corps Field Park Company were disbanded on the 10th of July 1940 and in September Bradford was posted to the recently opened School of Military Engineering in Ripon in North Yorkshire.

Ripon (1940-1941)

To better understand Bradford's duties at the School of Military Engineering in Ripon, it is first important to understand how and why the school came about. In 1939 the School of Military Engineering and the Training Battalion left Chatham forming two training battalions at Ripon and Shorncliffe. Young Officer training was cut short to allow the officers to be dispatched to units. No basic training was now done at Chatham since the officers were trained at the Royal Engineers Officer Candidate Training Unit and the men were to be trained in the training battalions. Specialist, instructor and higher trade training continued at Chatham, but from June 1940 training was seriously interrupted by German efforts to destroy the dockyard. Approximately 100 bombs, and one Spitfire, fell on the School of Military Engineering damaging buildings including the Commandant's residence. One caused heavy casualties when it burst in the basement of a barrack block. Staff and students also were required to direct the building of defences in the dockyard and the surrounding area. It was difficult to continue training under these circumstances so it was decided to look for a new site for SME.

In September 1940 the decision was taken to move to Ripon. This is when Bill Bradford was posted to the school. Despite the disruptions caused by the move, only one month's training was lost. Trade training remained at Chatham throughout the war due to the difficulty of finding suitable workshops elsewhere. The school at Ripon was expanded to keep pace with the growing demands of the war. In 1940 an Experimental Tunnelling Section was formed and in 1941 Assault Engineer and Bomb Disposal Schools were formed. The schools ran a wide range of courses for all arms and the long courses were designed to be taken in sections so that students could attend the relevant parts. After the war the School of Military Engineering remained at Ripon while a decision was made about its future location. Several sites with better training facilities were considered but the Treasury could not afford the cost of providing new quarters and School of Military Engineering returned to Chatham. The move back was completed in March 1950. The close relationship the SME had with the civilian population led to the Corps being granted the Freedom of Ripon before the departure of the School of Military Engineering from that town in July 1949.

Tunbridge Wells (1941-1942)

Mechanist Staff Sergeant Bradford's stay at Ripon was a short one, as 265 Corps Field Park Company was reformed at Tunbridge on the 2nd of January 1941 and he received orders to rejoin his old company. About this time he began to consider whether his electrical and mechanical skills might be better utilized in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) rather than the Royal Engineers. Early in 1942 a Warrant Officer Selection Board convened at the Royal West Kent Regiment depot in Maidstone, Kent for the purpose of reviewing the applications of men desirous of obtaining Warrants in the RAOC. Bradford appeared before the board, but apparently his application was not favorably considered. In April of 1942 he was appointed an Acting Mechanist Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor (QMSI) in the Royal Engineers; hence, it appeared that he was well on his way to obtaining Warrant Officer rank in the Royal Engineers in any case.

Ripon (1942-1944)

With his appointment to the rank of QMSI came his reassignment back to Ripon where he was posted to "H" Company, No. 1 (SME) Depot Battalion, Royal Engineers. While serving at Ripon during this period, QMSI Bradford met Terence Cuneo [28] the famous military artist. Cuneo was a Corporal serving at the School of Military Engineering at the time. In a letter to the editor of The Sapper Bradford wrote the following: [29]

"Terence was a Corporal in the Survey School, and naturally was encouraged to express his skill in many ways. There was a really fantastic 'fresco' of paintings on the wall of the W.O.s' and Sgts.' Mess Ante-Room (soon to be destroyed by fire).

He also made an exquisite painting for the E. and M. School Electrical Section of a wonderful young lady, but the interesting parts underneath were painted in invisible fluorescent paint which, when subjected to the ultra-violet lamp being instructed, brought back the interest of the least attentive student.

One met some remarkable 'Civilians' in wartime. Another Corporal collected old 'Rolls-Royce' cars, which had to be discouraged when he bought an old 'Rolls-Royce' hearse."

In another letter to The Sapper [30] the expressed his regrets after learning of the death of an old comrade by the name of George Poskitt [31]. Captain Bradford wrote the following:-

"George will be remembered as the Lsgt in charge of the Library at the SME Ripon in 1942. He was a most likeable character and will be remembered by Dennis White [32], Bill Male, Aggie Weston, Jacky Beach, Tom Wallis and, no doubt, many more who passed through the SME as students and instructors. I am sure that Dennis White, in particular, will recall the Saturday night we all went to the rustic dance in Bishop Monckton and George won a sack of potatoes in a raffle - it was really hilarious!

If I may further recall two true RE stalwarts up there at that time, 'Dido' Snelling and George Seward at the Fieldworks School; there was always a cup of tea at their homes, made by their equally charming wives - may such old soldiers never be forgotten."

QMSI Bradford continued as an instructor at the School of Military Engineering until December of 1942 when he was appointed Quartermaster Sergeant of "H" Company, No. 1 (SME) Depot Battalion Royal Engineers at Ripon. In early 1943 he received his substantive promotion to Warrant Officer Class II and was transferred to "M" Company of the Depot Battalion and in October of 1943 he was temporarily assigned to 119 "Z" Battery Royal Artillery while he attended a City and Guilds course in electrical engineering.

West Africa (1944-1945)

Warrant Officer Class II Bradford embarked for duties in West Africa on the 2nd of May 1944. He disembarked on the Gold Coast [33] on the 26th of May and was posted to 4 West African Trades Training School (4 W.A.T.T.S.) at Assuantsi [34]. For his duties at the school he was appointed to the rank of Warrant Officer Class I (Mechanist Sergeant Major).

On the 2nd of November 1944 Mechanist Sergeant Major Bradford applied to re-engage to complete 21 years with the Colours. By that time he had completed 11 years and 6 months of total service. His character and performance of duty we characterized as "exemplary" by the Commandant of 4 W.A.T.T.S. and his application for re-engagement was duly approved on the 15th of November 1944 [35].

On the 5th of November 1944, while the Commandant was evaluating Bradford's application for re-engagement, he was struck off the strength of 4 W.A.T.T.S. and posted to the office of the Commander Royal Engineers at Accra, located on the coast. His new duties required that he take over electrical and mechanical maintenance responsibilities at "Gifford Camp" at Accra from the U.S. Forces that had been stationed there. He also became involved with water purification projects and Malaria Control under a Major by the name of Pink [36] while serving at Accra. Bradford received his promotion to the substantive rank of Warrant Officer Class I (Mechanist Sergeant Major) while serving on the Gold Coast. He had spent 2 years and 55 days as a Warrant Officer Class II.

On the 27th of October 1945 Mechanist Sergeant Major Bradford was posted to the Engineer Services Pool, West Africa, in preparation for his return home to England. He embarked in Nigeria bound for the U.K. on the 28th of October and by the 11th of November he was back in Ripon.

Ripon (1945-1948)

Bradford was posted to No. 1 SME Depot Battalion, Royal Engineers at Harper Barracks upon his arrival at Ripon [37]. After he had settled into his new assignment, he was granted seven days of "special" end of war leave on the 18th of February 1946. On the 20th of March 1946 he was posted to "M" Company of the battalion and on the 15th of June he was granted ordinary "end of war leave" until the 5th of July.

On the 16th of September 1946 Bradford reenlisted for a further period of three years to become effective at the termination of his current period of engagement of 21 years. On the 16th of October he was transferred from the Temporary Establishment for Engineer Service (TEES) to the Establishment for Engineer Service (EES). Two days later he re-engaged to complete 22 years with the Colours and was granted 14 days of re-engagement leave on the 17th of December 1946.

It was about this time that WO1 Bradford began to seriously consider advancement in the Army, perhaps as an officer. He had voluntarily re-engaged to extend his enlistment beyond the normal 21 years of service. The war was over and the British Army was undergoing demobilization and a reduction in force. Bradford began looking for a way to make his military career more secure and decided to apply for a commission. On the 17th of February 1947 he submitted his application for "His Majesty's Commission in the British Army." The application was received by No. 2 War Office Selection Board on the 20th of February and on the 19th of March the board indicated that WO1 Bradford was "fully trained with Rifle, Bren Gun, Machine Carbine, Grenade, Motor Cycle, Gas and Map Reading." Furthermore, he was found to be technically qualified to be an Electrical and Mechanical Officer. Despite these qualifications, on the 2nd of May 1947, the War Office Selection Board rejected his application for a commission with the single word "unsuitable", with no further explanation given.

Despite this rather shabby treatment by the selection board, Bradford soldiered on with No. 1 Depot Battalion Royal Engineers. At this point in time, post war reorganization was moving along at a rapid pace within the Royal Engineers. On the 1st of September 1947, No. 1 DBRE was redesignated 11 Headquarters Regiment, R.E. On the 2nd of March 1948 it was redesignated again as No. 10 Headquarters Regiment and on the 29th of May 1948 it was renamed 12 Depot Regiment, R.E. Shortly after this final redesignation, Bradford was alerted for posting to Gibraltar.

Gibraltar (1948-1951)

WO1 Bradford disembarked at Gibraltar on the 13th of July 1948 and was posted to the office of the Deputy Commander Royal Engineers (South) Gibraltar. He moved into No. 1 Warrant Officers' Quarters at Draish Castle and immediately assumed his duties of maintenance of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) workshop facilities near Catalan Bay [38]. On the 13th of November 1948 he was issued the 1939-45 Star, Defence Medal and War Medal for his service during the Second World War by the Chief Engineer, Gibraltar [39].

WO1 Bradford was given a number of annual reports for his performance of duty at Gibraltar, beginning in September of 1948. A number of these reports are included in his service records and the contents of these reports are summarized below.

In the Annual Confidential Report prepared by Major V.C. Traynor, the DCRE Gibraltar and dated 26 September 1950, Bradford was assigned to Headquarters and Works Services, Gibraltar. He was the Mechanist in charge of mechanical plant and machinery, and refrigeration plant in particular. In the 20 duty areas for which he was rated, WO1 Bradford received average ratings in 9 areas and above average ratings in 11 areas. Major Traynor had the following to say about him:-

"A pleasing personality, but firm in his viewpoint. Is capable and willing of tackling any job on machinery. A good example to both civilian and military subordinates."

Major Traynor further recommended him for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant (I.R.E.M.) [40]. On the 30th of October 1950 Colonel J.H.D. Bennett endorsed Major Traynor's report with the following comments regarding Bradford:

"WOI Bradford is a first class Clerk of Works (Mechanical); practical, resourceful and possessing a wide practical knowledge of mechanical equipment."

In a subsequent Annual Confidential Report prepared by Major V.C. Traynor, dated 13 June 1951, WO1 Bradford was assigned to Headquarters Royal Engineers, Gibraltar. During that time he was the Warrant Officer in charge of refrigeration plant and watching brief over all DCRE Works in southern Gibraltar. In the 20 duty areas for which he was rated he received average ratings in 14 areas and above average ratings in 6 areas. Major Traynor had the following to say about him:-

"A strong personality. A good all round Clerk of Works (Mechanical) who works without supervision. Gives good guidance to his workmen and holds their respect. Sound in refrigeration plant. Good also in the field of sport, particularly hockey."

Major Traynor again recommended him for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant (I.R.E.M.).

Liphook (1951-1953)

WO1 Bradford completed his tour of duty at Gibraltar on the 16th of June 1951 and departed for home where he was assigned to No. 2 Engineer Store Depot (2ESD) at Liphook in Hampshire. He reported to his new unit on the 8th of August 1951. On the 1st of October 1951 he moved with his family into Married Quarters at 6 Pretoria Close in Longmoor. At Liphook he performed the duties of a Clerk of Works (Mechanical) as a Warrant Officer Class I on the Establishment for Engineer Services Roster. As he was in Gibraltar, WO1 Bradford was highly thought of by his commanding officer while at Liphook. In an Interim Confidential Report, dated the 10th of October 1951, prepared by Major A. Dallimore, the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Inspection Department at 2ESD, Bradford's duties included inspection of electrical and mechanical plant and deputizing for the OIC Inspection Department when so required. In the 19 duty areas for which he was rated, Bill received average ratings in 18 areas and above average ratings in 1 area. Major Dallimore had the following to say about him:-

"A Warrant Officer of considerable technical ability and strong personality who, in the short time he has been here, has firmly taken up his duties and has given confidence by the way he tackles them. He is quietly assertive and sets high standards. Assumes responsibility with readiness and confidence."

Like his predecessor at Gibraltar, Major Dallimore also recommended Bradford for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. However, instead of recommending him as an Inspector of Royal Engineer Machinery, Dallimore's recommendation was that Bradford should be an Electrical and Mechanical Officer (E&MO). Major Dallimore's Interim Report was endorsed on the 22nd of October 1951 by the Commanding Officer of 2ESD.

Bradford was still eager to get a commission in the Army and the confidential reports prepared by his most recent commanders had all indicated that he should be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. On the 16th of September 1952 he felt it was time to take advantage of these recommendations. On that date, while still serving at Liphook, he applied for a Short Service Commission as an Electrical and Mechanical Officer in the Royal Engineers with the intention of ultimately receiving a Regular Commission.

On the 24th of October 1952, Bradford received yet another Annual Confidential Report prepared by Major (E&MO) A.G. Taylor, OIC Inspection Department, 2ESD. For the period of this report, WO1 Bradford was responsible for inspection duties that included electrical and mechanical plant and mechanical machinery at 2ESD. In the 20 duty areas for which he was rated, Bradford received average ratings in 8 areas, above average ratings in 10 areas and outstanding ratings in 2 areas. Major Taylor had the following to say about him:-

"This Warrant Officer is most willing and conscientious. He has upon several occasions acted as OIC Inspection Department with complete satisfaction. His technical ability is above average and he is in possession of certificates:- (1) Matriculation, (2) Ordinary National Marine Engineering, 1932, (3) City and Guilds m/c Fitters and Turners Work, 1936, (4) City and Guilds Electrical Engineering Practice, AC & DC, 1943, and (5) City and Guilds Final Electrical Installation, 1946."

Major Taylor recommended him for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant (E&MO). This report was endorsed on the 3rd of December 1952 by the Commander, 2ESD with the same recommendation for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant.

On the 18th of January 1953 Bill Bradford's dream of becoming an officer finally was realized. He was discharged from the ranks on this date with a total of 19 years and 225 days of service in order to accept his commission on the following day.

Germany (1953-1957)

Lieutenant Bradford embarked for duty with the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) on the 4th of February 1953. Upon arrival in Germany he was posted to 80 Workshop and Park Squadron, Royal Engineers. His stay with this unit was a short one. In May of 1953 he was posted to Osnabruck, Germany to help organize 65 Field Park Squadron in 38 Engineer Regiment, 11 Engineer Group with the British I Corps. In 65 Field Park Squadron he assumed command of the Corps Field Lighting Equipment and took part in Exercise Grand Repulse.

On the 13th of April 1954 Lieutenant Bradford was taken on the strength of 27 Independent Plant Troop, Royal Engineers. In October of 1954 this unit, which was actually a training troop, took part with other units of the BAOR in Exercise Battle Royal. During this month the troop also began training courses at Achmer Training Area and was visited by a very prominent Sapper officer, Lieutenant General Sir Philip Neame, V.C., K.B.E., C.B. On the 18th of this month, as a requirement of his duties, Lieutenant Bradford was granted access to Top Secret and Secret Documents by the Directorate of Military Intelligence (MI.11).

Lieutenant Bradford was struck off the strength of 27 Plant Troop and taken on the strength of 154 DCRE (Works) Rheindahlen at Moenchen Gladbach, Germany on the 16th of August 1955. On the 20th of April 1956 he made application to extend his Short Service Regular Commission for four years and his application was endorsed by Major General H.H.C. Sugden on the 26th of April. While serving with 154 DCRE, Bradford was granted a Regular Commission as a Lieutenant (E&MO), Army Number 426324, and subsequently was promoted to the rank of Captain. On the 23rd of October 1957 he was struck off the strength of 154 DCRE and taken on the strength of the Royal Engineers Depot at Barton Stacey near Winchester in Hampshire. On this same date he entrained at Monchen Gladbach in preparation for his return to the U.K. and the start of his disembarkation leave, which began the following day.

Barton Stacey and Ripon (1957)

Captain Bradford reported for duty at the R.E. Depot at Barton Stacey on the 17th of November 1957 upon completion of his disembarkation leave. On the following day he was posted from the Depot to 38 Corps Engineer Regiment in Ripon for duty with 73 Electrical & Mechanical Squadron, Royal Engineers. Towards the end of November 1957, 38 Corps Engineer Regiment left the United Kingdom to reorganize before preparing Christmas Island for Operation Grapple, the testing of thermonuclear devices in the Pacific.

Christmas Island (1958)

By April of 1958 Captain Bradford and the rest of 38 Corps Engineer Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel R.L. Clutterbuck, R.E., were on Christmas Island as part of Task Force Grapple, the British test program to develop a hydrogen bomb. The broad aim of the tests was to achieve a one-megaton yield from a one ton warhead. A range of designs was tested during the Grapple Series of tests with a new concept of boosting the yield using solid thermonuclear "fuel" and an external neutron source was first successfully tested with the development device known as Orange Herald.

During the hydrogen bomb testing, Bradford was the commander of an E&M troop of 63 Field Park Squadron. Major J.V. Cowen, R.E. was the Officer Commanding 63 Field Park Squadron and Warrant Officer Class 2 A.E. Cheers was the Squadron Sergeant Major. The work of the squadron required it to be spread over Christmas Island from London to Scotch Corner.

Test Grapple Y took place in April of 1958. This test involved the detonation of a 2-megaton hydrogen bomb off Christmas Island at 1905 hours GMT on the 8th of April 1958. The bomb was detonated as an air burst at an altitude of 2,350 meters. The Grapple Y bomb was dropped by a Valiant bomber (XD825) piloted by Squadron Leader Bob Bates. It detonated 53 seconds after release from the bomber, only 245 yards off target. This was Britain's fourth test of a radiation implosion thermonuclear bomb and the second successful high yield test.

In May of 1958, following the hydrogen bomb test, Captain Bradford visited Malden Island to assess the state of a landing strip located there. Captain Bradford wrote to The Sapper in March of 1977 to relate his experiences during the Malden Island visit. His letter read as follows:- [41]

"During my tour with Task Force Grapple with 38 Engineer Regiment in 1958, I had occasion to visit Malden Island in the Pacific. This small island, barely a mile across and situated about 200 miles south of Christmas Island, had been used in the nuclear tests and had a small landing strip for aircraft. We were visiting to assess the state of this landing strip.

Although uninhabited in 1958, there had apparently been some small industry in the closing years of the last century when the guano was collected as a fertilizer, using the local Gilbert and Ellice islanders for labour.

The European overseer was a Scot named Andrew McCulloch and he had with him his wife Sarah and his small son Malden [42]. The headstone to their graves told of a tragedy when Andrew lost his wife and son. Seemingly the wife went into the treacherous sea to save the boy and they both drowned. Andrew followed them to the grave four years later. One's thoughts dwelt on the tragedy and their sheer loneliness, broken only by the roar of the Pacific surf."

In June Captain Bradford's E&M troop was engaged in putting up overhead power lines on Christmas Island. The men of his troop worked on a new power station and electrical distribution systems as well as internal wiring of tents in July of 1958. The new power station was put on line producing electricity by September.

Another test known as Grapple Z/Pennant 2 was conducted on the 22nd of August 1958. This test involved a 1-megaton bomb suspended from a balloon bursting over land.

In September of 1958, Major P.H. Thompson, M.C., R.E. assumed command of 63 Field Park Squadron. Three additional thermonuclear tests were conducted during this month. Test Grapple Z/Flagpole 1 consisted of the detonation of a 2.5 to 3 megaton bomb off Christmas Island on the 2nd of September 1958 at 1724 hours GMT. This device also was an air burst detonated at an altitude of 2,850 meters. The bomb was dropped from 45,000 feet by a Valiant (XD822) bomber piloted by Bill Bailey. It missed the intended target point by only 95 yards. This test was the first British use of blind radar bombing with a nuclear device. It was Britain's fifth test of a radiation implosion thermonuclear bomb and was the first of two highest yield tests. The second September 1958 test, known as Grapple Z/Halliard 1 was conducted on the 11th of the month at 1749 hours GMT. This test involved the detonation of a 2.5 to 3 megaton bomb off the coast of Christmas Island. The bomb was dropped by a Valiant (XD827) bomber piloted by Flight Lieutenant Tiff O'Connor and detonated as an air burst at an altitude of 2,650 meters. This was the second of Britain's two highest yield tests. Grapple Z/Halliard 1 was followed on the 23rd of September 1958 by Grapple Z/Burgee 2, a 1-kiloton bomb detonated from a balloon over land. This was a hollow gas-boosted device and was the United Kingdom's final atmospheric nuclear test.

Shoeburyness and Chatham (1958-1961)

38 Corps Engineer Regiment departed Christmas Island for the United Kingdom on the 4th of December 1958. Captain Bradford traveled home by way of the United States and landed in San Francisco, California on the 11th of December. He was in charge of a party of Sappers from Christmas Island that consisted of Captain J. Porri, R.E., men of 73 (Christmas Island) Squadron, Royal Engineers and men from 38 Corps Engineer Regiment, the majority of which were from 63 Field Park Squadron. He crossed the United States enroute to the east coast, with a stop over in Duluth, Minnesota on the 12th of December 1958. In March of 1959 Captain Bradford wrote the following about his return trip from Christmas Island to England:- [43]

"We stayed in San Francisco the whole of the 11th December, and I believe our party were the only sappers abroad in the town that morning. Two other planes were actually there en route from Christmas Island to the U.K., but I believe they were in the town during the afternoon.

The weather that day in San Francisco was delightful; a fitting farewell to the Pacific weather, but we were shocked on the next day in Duluth, as the temperature had dropped by nearly eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit!"

On the 31st of December, while he was en route home, he was taken on the strength of the office of the CRE Shoeburyness. By January of 1959 the men of 38 Corps Engineer Regiment were back in the U.K. and settled in at Deverall Barracks in Ripon. In March of 1959, Captain Bradford reported for duty to the CRE Shoeburyness and was posted on the 3rd of that month to the Works Service, Eastern Command, CRE (Kent) at Southill Barracks, Chatham, Kent.

On the 11th of March 1960 Captain Bradford received notice of compulsory retirement to take effect on the 1st of April 1961. He continued to serve with the CRE (Kent) while his retirement papers were being processed. He signed the Official Secrets Act on the 22nd of January 1961 in preparation for leaving the service and on the 4th of March he was posted to the Depot Regiment Royal Engineers at Chatham where he was granted 28 days of terminal leave. He was retired from the Army on the 1st of April 1958 and was transferred to the Regular Army Reserve of Officers (RARO), Class I. His transfer to the RARO made him eligible for recall to the Colours until age 55; that is, until the 3rd of December 1968. His retirement was announced in the London Gazette dated 4 April 1961.


a. Promotions: Bill Bradford received the following promotions during his time in service:-

Date of Promotion or Appointment

Rank or Position

9 June 1933

Sapper (upon enlistment in the Royal Engineers).

20 April 1937

Appointed Acting Unpaid Lance Corporal.

12 February 1938

Appointed Lance Corporal.

1 July 1939

Promoted Corporal.

19 October 1939

Appointed Acting Lance Sergeant.

11 November 1939

Appointed Acting Mechanist Staff Sergeant.

4 January 1940

Reverts to the rank of Corporal.

26 April 1940

Promoted Mechanist Staff Sergeant (substantive rank).

1 April 1942

Appointed Paid Acting Mechanist Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor [44].

27 December 1942

Appointed Mechanist Quartermaster Sergeant.

27 March 1943

Promoted Warrant Officer Class II [45].

26 May 1944

Appointed Paid Warrant Officer Class I (Mechanist Sergeant Major).

9 December 1944

Reverts to Substantive Rank of Mechanist Quartermaster Sergeant [46].

14 December 1944

Reinstated to Substantive Rank of Mechanist Sergeant Major.

12 May 1945

Promoted Warrant Officer Class I (Mechanist Sergeant Major) [47].

26 August 1949

Promoted Substantive WO Class II, Clerk of Works (Mechanical).

1 April 1952

Promoted Substantive WO Class I, Clerk of Works (Mechanical).

Commissioned Service

18 January 1953

Discharged from the ranks pending receipt of a Regular Army Short Service Commission, 2nd Lieutenant, Royal Engineers [48].

19 January 1953

Promoted Lieutenant, Royal Engineers (Short Service Commission) [49].

1 March 1956

Promoted Temporary Captain.

7 May 1956

Granted a Regular Army Commission, Lieutenant (E.& M.O.) [50,51]

6 July 1956

Promoted Captain (E. & M.O.), Royal Engineers [52].

b. Conduct: Bill Bradford received the following Good Conduct Badges during his time in service:-

Date of Award

Good Conduct Badge

18 September 1942

First award of Good Conduct Pay at 3d per day.

8 June 1946

Second award of Good Conduct Pay authorized.

Bradford completed 18 years of service on the 8th of June 1951 and subsequently was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal without a gratuity [53].


a. Education: Bill Bradford earned the following Certificates of Education during his time in service:


Certificate of Education

21 July 1933

Awarded a 3rd Class Certificate of Education at Chatham.

9 September 1933

Awarded a 2nd Class Certificate of Education at Chatham.

16 October 1935

Awarded a "Special Certificate of Education."

February 1936

Completed the City and Guilds Machinist, Fitters and Turners Course (Intermediate Level). Awarded Certificate.

6 October 1939

Completed No. 14 Clerk of Works
(Electrical and Mechanical) Machinist's Course.

28 October 1943

Completed the City and Guilds Electrical Engineering Practice, AC and DC (Intermediate Level). Awarded Certificate.


Completed City and Guilds Final Electrical Installation Course. Earned Certificate and won silver medal and cash award.

23 April 1955

Completed the Royal Engineers Officers Plant Course No. 16 while attached to 12 School of Military Engineering Regiment.

b. Qualifications: Bradford earned the following qualifications prior to and during his time in service:-




National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering.

23 June 1933

Passed Class III test for Fitter. Certificate of Trade Proficiency as a Fitter, Group "A", Class III awarded by the Commandant, School of Military Engineering.

26 June 1933

Mustered as a Pioneer (Fitter) Group "E", Class III [54].

28 June 1933

Passed the 60-yard swimming test at Chatham.

26 October 1934

Remustered as a Fitter, Group "A", Class III.

1 March 1938

Passed the training test for Fitter, Group "A", Class II.

21 February 1948

Received Trade Classification in Electrical Maintenance, Group "A", Class I.


The following medical information shown in the table below was taken from Captain Bradford's service records during his time in service. His Medical History Sheet was not included in the service papers. The entries shown below were taken from his Record of Service.


Date of


Period of Hospitalization
or Treatment


9 Jun 1933

Medical examination.

Found fit for service in the Army.

West Africa

9 Dec 1944

Unknown [55]

Admitted for treatment to 36 General Hospital. Discharged on 14 December 1944.

West Africa

3 Oct 1945

Unknown [56]

Admitted for treatment to 36 General Hospital. Discharged on 6 October 1945.


18 Feb 1947

Medical examination.

Examined for application for commission. Medical Category A1 (fit for General Service).


Bill Bradford first met his future wife Beryl Frances Tongue [57] while he was attending No. 14 (E&M) Mechanist Course in 1939 with his friend and fellow Sapper Ronald Gravells. Ronald's sister introduced Bill and Ronald to Beryl in Coventry in November of 1939. It was not until many years later that Bill and Beryl would marry.

Bill and Ronald both went overseas following the Mechanist Course. When Bill returned he married his first wife, Eileen Fleming in August of 1940. Beryl married Ronald Gordon Harold Gravells in September of 1940 and Bill Bradford served as Ronald's best man [58].

Ronald and Beryl Gravells had two sons, Nigel and Jonathan. Both young men attended the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. Nigel received a commission in the Royal Artillery and Jonathan was commissioned in the 21st Lancers. Jonathan Gravells was tragically killed in July of 1973 while acting as a Good Samaritan during an automobile accident in Germany. After witnessing the accident, Jonathan got out of his car and dragged two injured Germans to safety from their damaged vehicle. In the process of performing this heroic deed he was struck and killed by a passing vehicle. He subsequently was awarded a medal for his heroic action, a medal which his mother believes is on display in a British officers' mess in Germany. Jonathan's death put a severe strain on Ronald and Beryl Gravells' marriage. After seven years of trying to mend their relationship, they finally divorced in 1980.

On the 11th of August 1940 Bill Bradford married Eileen Kate Fleming at Gillingham Parish Church in Kent. Their son, William George Bradford, was born on the 17th of November 1942 at the Royal Naval Maternity Home on Bainsole Road, U.D. [59] Bradford's service papers appear to indicate that his wife and son accompanied him on all of his postings except for the time he spent in West Africa. In all likelihood, the unhealthy climate, poor family accommodations and wartime activities necessitated that they remain in England during this period. The records do show that they resided in the Warrant Officers' Quarters at Draish Castle at Gibraltar and at 6 Pretoria Close in Longmoor while he was serving with 2 Engineer Stores Depot at Liphook, at least for a short time. They apparently occupied the quarters at Longmoor on the 1st of October 1951 and vacated them on the 23rd of the same month, for reasons not explained in Bradford's service record. His records do indicate that while he was still serving at Liphook, his permanent address was 54 Strover Street in Gillingham, Kent. It is not known whether his wife and son moved to that address after leaving the married quarters at Longmoor. His records further show that in January of 1953 his son was living at the 54 Strover Street address, but there is no mention of his wife living at that address. This may possibly be explained by a separation from his wife, as a divorce decree between Bill and Eileen Kate Bradford was finalized on the 4th of June 1953 while then Lieutenant Bradford was serving in Germany.

Bill Bradford married a second time to Catherine Margaret Mary Dyer. This notation is shown on his Army Form B.2761 dated the 18th of October 1954. His records also show that he had a daughter, Fiona Mary, born on the 23rd of April 1954 to his second wife [60].

Other information contained on the above-mentioned Army Form indicates that Bill Bradford and his wife Catherine were living at "Kingswear" on Mayland Road in Bedhampton in October of 1954. He listed his religion as Methodist and his wife's religion as Roman Catholic. Bill's father also is listed on the form as living at 9 Sherriff Street in West Hartlepool. His father's religion is listed as Church of England. Bill's mother is listed on the form as living at 19 Suggitt Street in West Hartlepool and she is shown as being a Methodist. Obviously Bill's mother was the guiding influence in his religious upbringing.

Bill Bradford had another son, Nicholas John Bruce, born on the 11th of November 1955 and a second daughter, Alison Sara, born on the 23rd of November 1956. According to Captain Bradford's service record, in October of 1957 the Bradford family was living at 29 Married Families Camp in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. While he was serving in the office of the CRE Shoeburyness, the Bradfords lived a 2 Officers Quarters on Ness Road in Shoeburyness, Essex. Following his retirement they moved to 15 Basingbourne Road in Fleet, Hampshire.

Beryl Gravells did not meet Bill Bradford again until 1962. At that time he was on his second marriage. In 1982, two years after her divorce from Ronald Gravells, Beryl married a widower who she had known for many years. Her second husband had also been in the Army. She had known him for many years and he was godfather to her son Nigel. They had a happy seven years together, but unfortunately he died while they were on holiday in South Africa. When Beryl returned to England she met Ronald again. He was now retired from the Army and unmarried and wished to get back together with Beryl. They renewed their relationship for a while, although they did not remarry. One day Ronald announced that Bill Bradford was now alone and living three miles away from them. Ronald and Beryl invited Bill to dinner one evening at which time Bill and Beryl renewed their friendship. After a couple of months Bill and Beryl realized that they had much in common and that they cared very much for each other. They subsequently decided to marry.

Bill and Beryl married on the 24th of October 1992 [61] and lived at 14 Mulberry Avenue, Stubbington in Fareham, Hampshire. They enjoyed eleven happy years together with dancing twice a week and holidays to France, South Africa, Cyprus, Rhodes and Scotland. Bill did not play bridge, a passion of Beryl's, but he did not mind her playing and always joined the ladies for tea. He had his own hobbies and interests to keep himself busy during his retirement years. All through his life Bill Bradford was keenly interested in sports, with his favorites being cricket, hockey, soccer and swimming. His hobbies included motorcycling and stamp collecting. He had acquired a fair knowledge of written and spoken French as a result of this time in France with the B.E.F. during 1939 to 1940.


Bill Bradford was discharged from the ranks on the 18th of January 1953 in order to accept a Short Service Commission in the Royal Engineers. Up to that date he had served a total of 19 years and 225 days in the Army. He retired as a Captain, Royal Engineers on the 1st of April 1961. His total Army service, including his commissioned service, was reckoned as shown in the tables below.


Period of Service


9 June 1933 to 21 March 1934


22 March 1934 to 18 January 1935

Hong Kong

19 January 1935 to 5 May 1938


6 May 1938 to 5 October 1939


6 October to 10 November 1939


11 November 1939 to 8 February 1940


9 February to 1 June 1940

Leeds and Tunbridge Wells

2 June 1940 to 14 June 1942


15 June 1942 to 1 May 1944

West Africa

2 May 1944 to 10 November 1945


11 November 1945 to 8 July 1948


9 July 1948 to 7 August 1951


8 August 1951 to 3 February 1953


4 February 1953 to 23 October 1957

Barton Stacey

24 October 1957 to 16 May 1958

Christmas Island

17 May to 10 December 1958

United States

11 to 30 December 1958

Shoeburyness and Chatham

31 December 1958 to 31 May 1961


Period of Service

Home Service

14 years and 140 days

Service Abroad

13 years and 216 days

Total Service

27 years and 356 days

It should be noted that his career included six assignments abroad during his almost 28 years of service.

At the time of his discharge from the ranks in January of 1953, Bill Bradford's commanding officer rated his conduct as "Exemplary" and provided this testimonial:-

"Warrant Officer Class I Bradford is a man whom I can confidently recommend for any employment, civil or military. During the period in which he has served under my command he has carried out a most responsible duty as Inspector with diligence, reliability and skill. He is a man of the highest character."


Following his retirement from the Army, Bill Bradford took a position with the Department of the Environment (D.O.E.) Property Services Agency (P.S.A.) in the Area Works Office (A.W.O.) at Aldershot in November of 1961. His place of work was located on Knolly's Road in Aldershot and his residence was located on Basingbourne Road in Fleet.

By March of 1972 he had changed his position within the D.O.E. and was working at the Deputy District Works Office (Mechanical & Electrical) at Montgomery Lines, Middle Hill, Aldershot. It was while he was serving in this position that his office mounted the plaque in Balloon Square at Aldershot to commemorated the School of Ballooning, which was a branch of the Royal Engineers founded at that location in 1892. At the time that the plaque was mounted (March 1972), the square was located in the Technical Area of the Parachute Brigade and was well known to all men who served in the old Gibraltar Barracks [62].

He continued to work for the D.O.E. and by January of 1975 he held a position in the Property Services Agency at Camberley in Surrey. In 1977 he returned to the A.W.O. on Knolly's Road in Aldershot where it appears that he worked until his retirement in 1984.

During the time that he was serving in the Army and while working for the D.O.E., Bill Bradford was an Associate Member of the Institution of Plant Engineers and a Member of the Institution of Royal Engineers. He also was a Member of the Gosport Branch of the Royal Engineers Association.

Bill spent his final years at his home on Mulberry Avenue, Stubbington, Fareham, Hampshire. He and his wife enjoyed travelling and he particularly loved music and enjoyed swimming. Captain John William Bradford died suddenly at home on the 25th of November 1999, just a few weeks short of his 86th birthday. His death was certified by James R. Warner, M.B. and the causes of his death were listed as I(a). Myocardial Infarction, I(b). Congestive Cardiac Failure and II. Total Hip Replacement. His wife Beryl was present at this death.

Bill Bradford's death was registered by Gay Harding, the Registrar for the Sub-district of Fareham, in the District of South East Hampshire, in the County of Hampshire on the 29th of November 1999.

Captain Bradford was rendered full military honours by the Royal Engineers at his funeral as was befitting a man who had served almost 28 years of his life honorably and unselfishly in the service of his country during the reigns of three monarchs.



1. INSTITUTION OF ROYAL ENGINEERS. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume VIII. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1952.

2. SKELLEY, A.R. The Victorian Army At Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899. Mc Gill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1977.


1. Email message from Nigel Gravells to the author, March 2003.

2. Letter from REA Gosport Branch to the author, July 2002.

3. Letter from Beryl Bradford to the author, 24 March 2003.


1. Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth, BXBZ 541653, General Register Office, London, dated 5 June 2002.

2. Military Service Papers consisting of the following documents and sections:

  1. Regular Army (All Arms) Attestation (Army Form B.271).
  2. Description on Enlistment.
  3. Statement of Services.
  4. Military History Sheet.
  5. Appointments and Movements.
  6. Statement of Services (Army Form B.200 and B.200B).
  7. Record of Service - Officers (Army Form B.199a).
  8. Personal Summary (Army Form B.2761).
  9. Descriptive Return (Army Form B.136).
  10. Parchment Warrant Transmittal Memorandum.
  11. Service and Casualty Form (Army Form B.103-2).
  12. Annual Report and Employment Sheet (Regular Army Only).
  13. Annual or Intermediate Confidential Report (Warrant Officers - All Arms) (Army Form B.2047).
  14. Notification of Officer "Casualty."
  15. Certificate of Trade Proficiency (Army Form B.197).
  16. Posting Orders, Headquarters British Army of the Rhine.
  17. Movement Orders (Army Form A.31).
  18. Recommendation for His Majesty's Commission in the British Army (Army Form B.2617).
  19. Application for Appointment to a Regular or a Short Service Commission in the Regular Army (Army Form B.218).
  20. Forecast/Assessment of Non-Effective Benefits (Permanent Regular Officer) (APO Form 176).

3. Correspondence related to the Service of Captain Bradford consisting of the following documents:

  1. Captain Bradford to Officer Commanding 154 DCRE, dated 9 April 1956, re: Extension of Commissioned Service.
  2. War Office to Captain Bradford, dated 24 September 1956, re: Pay.
  3. Captain Bradford to DPA War Office, dated 5 October 1956, re: Pay.
  4. DPA War Office to Captain Bradford, dated 1 March 1960, re: Premature Retirement.
  5. AAG War Office to Captain Bradford, dated 21 April 1960, re: Premature Retirement.
  6. Captain Bradford to CRE Shoeburyness, dated 28 July 1960, re: Application for Retirement.
  7. CRE Shoeburyness to the War Office, dated 29 July 1960, re: Application for Retirement of Captain Bradford.
  8. Captain Bradford to the Army Pensions Office, dated 1 February 1961, re: Terminal Entitlements.
  9. War Office to HQ BAOR, dated 19 September 1957, re: Special Employment.
  10. HQ BAOR to 154 DCRE, dated 23 September 1957, re: Posting of Captain Bradford.
  11. O.C. "M" Company, DBRE to R.E. Records Office, dated 14 January 1947, re: Long Service and Good Conduct Pay.
  12. DPA War Office to HQ Northern Army Group, dated 17 February 1956, re: Regular Quartermaster Commission.
  13. Army Pay Office to the War Office, dated 3 December 1957, re: Education Allowance.
  14. DPA War Office to Army Pay Office, dated 12 December 1957, re: Education Allowance.
  15. DPA War Office to Commander 38 Corps Engineer Regiment, dated 16 October 1958, re: Posting of Captain Bradford.
  16. Chief Engineer Eastern Command to War Office, dated 23 December 1958, re: Posting of Captain Bradford.
  17. Captain Bradford to Army Pension Office, dated 15 January 1960, re: Premature Retirement.
  18. Captain Bradford to DPA War Office, dated 3 March 1960, re: Premature Retirement.
  19. DPA War Office to Captain Bradford, dated 11 March 1960, re: Premature Retirement.
  20. Captain Bradford to War Office, dated 25 March 1960, re: Retirement.
  21. DPA War Office to Captain Bradford, dated 30 March 1960, re: Retirement.
  22. Captain Bradford to Army Pension Office, dated 7 April 1960, re: Retirement.
  23. Army Pay Office to Captain Bradford, dated 26 April 1960, re: Special Compensation for Premature Retirement.
  24. DPA War Office to CRE Shoeburyness, dated 8 August 1960, re: Deferment of Retirement.
  25. Captain Bradford to the War Office, dated 18 August 1960, re: Premature Retirement.
  26. War Office to Captain Bradford, dated 24 August 1960, re: Retirement.
  27. Captain Bradford to the War Office, dated 6 November 1960, re: Retired Pay.
  28. Captain Bradford to Army Pension Office, dated 6 November 1960, re: Retired Pay.
  29. DPA War Office to Captain Bradford, dated 15 November 1960, re: Employment after Retirement.
  30. War Office to Captain Bradford, dated 12 January 1961, re: Effective Date of Retirement.
  31. Captain Bradford to War Office, dated 13 January 1961, re: Retirement.
  32. Lloyds Bank Limited to Captain Bradford, dated 6 February 1961, re: Army Pension.
  33. Official Secrets Act, dated 22 January 1961, signed by Captain Bradford.
  34. Army Pensions Office to Captain Bradford, dated 10 March 1961, re: Retired Pay.
  35. Captain Bradford to Army Pensions Office, dated 7 April 1961, re: Retired Pay.
  36. Application to Commute Part of Retired Pay, Army Pensions Office, dated 3 November 1961.
  37. Captain Bradford to Army Pensions Office, dated 4 November 1961, re: Retired Pay.
  38. Army Pensions Office to Pensions Commutation Board, dated 13 November 1961, re: Commutation of Captain Bradford's Retired Pay.
  39. Pensions Commutation Board to Army Pensions Office, dated 19 March 1962, re: Commutation of Captain Bradford's Retired Pay.
  40. DPA War Office to Captain Bradford, dated 23 April 1963, re: Summary of Service.
  41. Medal Entitlements Slip.

4. Certified Copy of an Entry of Death, OBDX 158424, General Register Office, London, dated 5 June 2002.

5. Life Members List, West Hartlepool Grammar School.

Internet Web Site

1. Advanced Air Strike Force. http://france1940.free.fr/uk/raf_may.html#AASF

2. Grapple Series Begins at Christmas Island. www.awe.co.uk/main_site/about_awe/keeping_the_peace/1957.htm

3. Harper Barracks. www.army.mod.uk/royalengineers/org/38regt/wksp.htm

4. Operation Grapple. www.janeresture.com/christmas_bombs/grapple.htm

5. Willems Barracks. www.hants.gov.uk/museum/aldershot/barracks/willems.html


1. Army List, August 1949.

2. Army List, August 1956.

3. London Gazette, 4 April 1961.

4. Royal Engineers List, May 1970.

5. Supplement to the Royal Engineers Journal, February 2000.

6. The Sapper, October 1934.

7. The Sapper, December 1934.

8. The Sapper, March 1935.

9. The Sapper, April 1935.

10. The Sapper, May 1935.

11. The Sapper, February 1936.

12. The Sapper, April 1936.

13. The Sapper, October 1935.

14. The Sapper, May 1953.

15. The Sapper, December 1954.

16. The Sapper, February 1958.

17. The Sapper, May 1958.

18. The Sapper, July 1958.

19. The Sapper, August 1958.

20. The Sapper, September 1958.

21. The Sapper, November 1958.

22. The Sapper, February 1959.

23. The Sapper, May 1959.

24. The Sapper, November 1961.

25. The Sapper, November 1968.

26. The Sapper, November 1969.

27. The Sapper, July 1972.

28. The Sapper, May 1975.

29. The Sapper, July 1977.

30. The Sapper, November 1977.

31. The Sapper, August 1979.

32. The Sapper, April 1980.

33. The Sapper, June 1980.

34. The Sapper, October 1980.

35. The Sapper, April 1982.

36. The Sapper, June 1984.

37. The Sapper, March 1997.

38. The Sapper, November 1999.

39. The Sapper, March 2000.


[1] The Sapper is the Regimental Journal of the Corps of Royal Engineers.

[2] Birth Certificate.

[3] Life Members List, West Hartlepool Grammar School.

[4] Bill recalled in a letter to the editor of the Sapper magazine that some of his mates in Corporal English's section included Sappers Ted Storey, Howard Griffen, 'Shiny' Albright and John Branch.

[5] SKELLEY, A.R. The Victorian Army At Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899. Mc Gill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1977, p. 94, 95, and 311.

[6] The Sapper, May 1975, p. 70.

[7] The Sapper, October 1934, p. 413.

[8] Ibid.

[9] The Sapper, December 1934, p. 467.

[10] The Sapper, March 1935, p. 548, May 1975, p. 70, June and October 1980.

[11] The Sapper, May 1935, p. 603.

[12] The Sapper, October 1935, p. 68.

[13] The Sapper, May 1975, p. 70.

[14] Bill Bradford became a cricketer himself. Captain Foley probably had much to do with his learning and becoming skilled in the sport as indicated by the sentiments expressed in this letter.

[15] These are common sentiments of old soldiers. The author recalls the same sentiments when visiting the barracks of his first unit at Fort Lewis, Washington after 40 years and feeling extremely saddened by the fact that the entire battalion area had been leveled and was nothing more than grass fields.

[16] The Sapper, March 1997, p. 45.

[17] Corps History, Volume VIII, p. 15.

[18] Masterpiece Theater television series "Piece of Cake" and Derek Robinson's book by the same title are based on a squadron of Hurricane fighter aircraft that were part of the Advanced Air Striking Force.

[19] Corps History, Volume VIII, p. 16.

[20] This letter was written by Bill Bradford from his address at 15 Basingbourne Road, Fleet, Hants, GU13 9TE.

[21] Willems Barracks were constructed between 1856 and 1859 and finally demolished in 1964. Originally known as West Cavalry Barracks, they were renamed Willems in 1909 after the cavalry victory in May 1794, during the French Revolutionary War. Willems Barracks were built as one of the three cavalry barracks in Aldershot and housed the 1st Cavalry Brigade. Regular regiments of cavalry were house there until 1938. The barracks consisted of a guardroom and cells plus four two-story troop stables, officers' mess, sergeants' mess and a riding school. A Tesco's supermarket and private housing now occupy the site; however, the original gateway still survives facing Farnborough Road.

[22] As this was being written in March of 2003, the French were behaving very much the same way towards the British and the Americans in their discussions regarding how to deal with Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

[23] During the German invasion of Belgium and France the squadron fought hard, bombing motor transport columns and other tactical targets in an attempt to delay the enemy's advance. It withdrew from France quite suddenly in mid-June 1940, as indicated by Bill Bradford, and crossed to Northern Ireland where it was based at Sydenham (Belfast).

[24] 1868848 Staff Sergeant Harry James Bateman, age 24, died on Monday the 17th of June 1940. He was the son of John Keating William and Daisy Julia May Bateman of Guilford, Surrey. He is remembered with honour on Column 21 of the Dunkirk Memorial.

[25] The Sapper, June 1984, p. 359.

[26] 1868643 Warrant Officer Class 2 C.N.S. Walker, Royal Engineers.

[27] Corps History, Volume VIII, pp. 43-44.

[28] Terence Cuneo died on the 3rd of January 1996. He was well known for his paintings of military subjects, which always included a small mouse somewhere in the painting.

[29] The Sapper, November 1977.

[30] The Sapper, September 1969, p. 67.

[31] 8993 Lance Sergeant George E. Poskitt, R.E.

[32] Unfortunately many of the names are common ones, making the individuals difficult to identify without their Army Numbers or ranks. Also, Bill Bradford's use of nicknames for the men makes them difficult to identify. The man he calls Bill Male in this letter is undoubtedly 1871166 Warrant Officer Class I W.A. Male, R.E. who later received a commission and rose to the rank of Captain. Captain Male passed away on the 26th of November 1996.

[33] Now the nation of Ghana.

[34] This place name does not appear on modern day maps or in gazetteers.

[35] His re-engagement to complete 21 years of service became effective on the 19th of December 1944.

[36] Major R.N. Pink, M.B.E., R.E. Major Pink died in 1994.

[37] In 1960 Harper Barracks was rebuilt and renamed Claro Barracks.

[38] The Sapper, November 1999, p. 210.

[39] These medals are in the author's collection.

[40] I.R.E.M.: Inspector of Royal Engineer Machinery.

[41] The Sapper, July 1977, p. 95.

[42] The island obviously had been named after his son by Andrew McCulloch.

[43] The Sapper, May 1959.

[44] He was appointed an Unpaid Acting Mechanist Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor on this date and then a Paid Acting MQMS on the same day.

[45] His Parchment Warrant as a Warrant Officer Class II was issued by the Royal Engineers Record Office in Brighton on the 31st of August 1943.

[46] This was a temporary reversion to a lower rank based on admission to hospital.

[47] He is shown in the Army List as a Warrant Officer Class I and in the Royal Engineers Regimental List as a War Substantive Mechanist Sergeant Major.

[48] This appointment was announced in the London Gazette dated 3 March 1953.

[49] Promotion announced in the London Gazette dated 24 February 1953.

[50] E&MO: Electrical and Mechanical Officer. This designation was usually applied to senior non-commissioned officers who had served as Mechanists and were highly qualified in the technical aspects of electrical and mechanical machinery. These men usually did not serve as line officers in combat engineer units of the Royal Engineers.

[51] His appointed to be Lieutenant (E&MO) in the Regular Army from Short Service Commission was published in the London Gazette of 24 August 1956 with an effective date of 7 May 1956.

[52] His promotion to Captain (E&MO) was published in the London Gazette of 24 August 1956 with an effective date of 6 July 1956.

[53] This medal is in the author's collection.

[54] Although he was classified as a Fitter, Group "A", Class III, this trade was closed to recruiting at the time. Since there was no vacancy available for him as a Fitter, Group "A", he was temporarily redesignated a Fitter, Group "E".

[55] Bradford's Medical History Sheet was not included as part of his service record. Given the climate in West Africa it is probable that he was treated for some tropical ailment, perhaps malaria.

[56] This illness may have been a relapse of his previous ailment, a common occurrence with malaria.

[57] Beryl was actually born Baker, but on the death of her mother in childbirth, she was adopted by her aunt and her surname subsequently was changed to Tongue.

[58] REA Gosport Branch letter, dated July 2002. Ronald Gordon Harold Gravells subsequently attained the rank of Major in the Royal Engineers. He died on the 28th of October 1991. He and Beryl had a son, Nigel.

[59] William George Bradford's birth date is shown as 17 November 1942 on Army Form B.200B in Captain Bradford's service records. The date of birth is given as 17 October 1942 on Army Form B.199a. No explanation has been found for this discrepancy.

[60] The dated of Captain Bradford's marriage to his second wife is uncertain, as his service papers (Army Form B.199a) show that he married Catherine Margaret Mary Dyer at Petersfield, Hampshire on the 15th of August 1955.

[61] Nigel Gravells, Beryl's son by Major R.G.H. Gravells, gave his mother away at her marriage to Bill Bradford.

[62] The plaque was still located in Balloon Square in the area of the Parachute Regiment when the author visited the site in 1985.