Sunday, 1 May 2016

Harold Bradley born Barnsley 1898

Memories from Anne Griffiths (nee Bradley)

Harold was my father and I understand he left the Army as a Lance Corporal, though the 1918 AVL shows him still as a Private.  

Ward    PD    No    Surname    Forenames    Street    House No    Service No    Rank    Battalion    Regiment
West    13P    3996    Bradley    Harold      Keir Street    48              45322              Pte        18th           D L I

I understand he fought on the Somme and that he was shot through the leg. He also suffered some lung damage due to gas attack. 

Dad was typical of the WW1 veterans in that he spoke very little of his experiences. I do, however, clearly remember (late 1950s) asking him what had caused a small scar on his shin and he told me he'd been shot whilst trying to escape the Germans.... finding himself (as a Lance Corporal) the most senior ranking, it was his duty to lead a small group of soldiers in an escape attempt.  He showed me the scar higher up and at the back of his leg.... it seems the bullet travelled clean through! And, as a result, that leg was 3/4" shorter than the other, so he had his suits made to measure to accommodate the difference, and he didn't have a limp.

The only other information I could glean from him was that he was in the Durham Light Infantry and that he'd had the most awful time, spending "36 hours up to the armpits in freezing mud". He also experienced mustard gas attacks, which left him with a slight, permanent, impairment.

I remember seeing a rolled-up  poster advertising a concert; I was told it was from his time as a POW and he was very proud of it because his name was on it, together with that of Maurice Chevalier (playing a much more starring role than my Dad of course). No-one left in the family remembers ever seeing this, and the lack of evidence of his being a POW was making me doubt my own memory. So it's particularly good to have confirmation of this from you. Having googled Maurice Chevalier, I found evidence of him being a POW in Alten Grabow camp but it appears that may have been in WW2. Perhaps, now that I've managed to trace my father's regt number and POW number, I just might manage to get to the bottom of this too.

My father was a member of a concert party, in Barnsley after the war. He sang and played piano and cello. It's possible there will be other cuttings about him in the Barnsley Chronicle, particularly as I remember my Mum & Dad attending the Royal Garden Party in 1947. Having left school at the age of 10, he worked for the BBCS as an errand boy, working his way up to be Traffic Manager, in charge of travelling shops, delivery wagons, taxis, funeral and wedding cars and coaches. 

I have very few photos of my parents (the family album being dispersed amongst my older siblings) so I must make some time to visit Barnsley and trawl through the Chronicle Archives to see if there is any more evidence I can hand on to my grand children.

Anne gave us permission to share her memories following an exchange of emails on 1 May 2016, for which we are grateful.

Harold Bradley's Lives of the First World War entry

This was the information we were able to give Anne; according to our index to the Barnsley Chronicle his name appears at least three times in the Barnsley Chronicle in August 1918:
10/08/1918    4    Bradley    Harold    DLI    Pte    Local Casualties - POW in Germany, aged 19, wounded, mother Mrs Bradley, 48 Keir St, Barnsley.
17/08/1918    4    Bradley    H     45322 18th DLI    Pte    POW - 48 Keir St, Barnsley 
24/08/1918    4    Bradley    H    18th DLI    Pte 45322    POW List. 35408, SP Stargard.  48 Keir St, Barnsley.

He may appear in other issues, but Anne will need to go to Barnsley Archives to check our index (we do hope to make it available online eventually) and then use the digitised Barnsley Chronicle to access the full articles.  Printouts of any interesting pieces can be made for a small fee.

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