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In Memory of


The bravery which earned George Bradford the Victoria Cross at Zeebrugge was no "one-off" event. It was part and parcel of life for this man who was physically fit and ready for any emergency. One such emergency came his way during a dark March night, as the Destroyer H.M.S. Doon accidentally rammed the trawler Halcyon.

Pre-War Heroism by George Bradford, First Lieutenant of H.M.S. Chelmer - Eye-Witness Account of the Sinking of the Trawler Halcyon

"At 3.20 a.m. on Wednesday March 3rd 1909, H.M.S. Doon rammed the trawler Halcyon of Lowestoft at a position 15 miles east of the Owers Light Vessel east of Portsmouth. The Doon was proceeding to Dover to escort the King to Calais, and was accompanied by H.M.S. Chelmer. The trawler was struck fair on the port side by the bow of the Doon. The latter was going at about 15 knots at the time, and the trawler at 8 knots. Five of the trawler's crew jumped on board the Doon, leaving four in the sinking ship. Searchlights were turned on by both the Doon and the Chelmer, but that of the Chelmer soon failed, and all the rescue work had to be done by the aid of the Doon's light.

"When the collision occurred, the lifeboat of the Chelmer was called away, but as it was turned in and covered ready for escort duty, some trouble ensued in getting it away, all the hitches of the cover jamming. The cook's knife and a few files were obtained and the cover was soon removed, and the boat lowered.

"About ten to fifteen minutes after the collision the Chelmer's whaler, in charge of Mr Bradford, proceeded to the trawler and rescued three men. On the return of the whaler, the Captain of the Chelmer (Captain Loftus-Jones, VC, Royal Navy) pulled over to the trawler but considered that she was sinking rapidly, and therefore did not go on board.

"The whaler again returned, and was about to be hoisted when a signal came from the Doon that there was a boy trapped on board the sinking trawler. The whaler, containing the First Lieutenant, Mr Bradford, immediately pulled over to the fast sinking ship.

"Mr Bradford sprang on board, rushed to the fore peak, now inky black, and as the trawler gave a lurch, appeared with the unconscious boy in his arms. (The boy, who was coming up the hatch when the collision occurred, had been stunned by a fall.) The gallant officer arrived just in time, for as he jumped into the whaler the trawler up-ended and her bow alone remained out of water. A few minutes later she sank.

"The Chelmer escorted the Doon back to Portsmouth. Luckily the Doon's collision bulkhead stood. Her bows were badly damaged."

Debt of Honour Register

Lieut-Commander H.M.S. "Iris II", Royal Navy,
who died on Tuesday, 23rd April 1918. Age 31.

Pic of small Memorial Cross for Georgie Bradford
Small Wooden British Legion Memorial Cross for Lieut-Commander G N Bradford VC Royal Navy - from Poppy Day 2004

photo of Georgie Bradford
George Nicholson Bradford, V C, Royal Navy

Commemorative Information

Cemetery: BLANKENBERGHE TOWN CEMETERY, Blankenberghe, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium Grave Reference/ Panel Number: Row A. Grave 5. Location: Blankenberghe Town cemetery is located on the coast of Belgium, 4 km west from Zeebrugge and 20 km east of Oostende. The N34 runs from Zeebrugge to Oostende via the town of Blankenberghe. From Zeebrugge or Oostende the N34 Koning Albertlaan leads directly to the town square. The cemetery itself is located via Kerkstraat N371, then right onto Zuidlaan for 500 metres, finally turning left along Landijk for 100 metres to the cemetery itself. This cemetery is not an open site and access is limited by normal cemetery opening hours. Historical Information: There are now 10, 1914-18 and over 80, 1939-45 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, over 10 from the 1939-45 war are unidentified.

photo of George Bradford's grave with British Legion Cross in front of it
George Bradford's grave on right with a little British Legion Cross placed in front of it

photo of Georgie Bradford's gravestone taken in year 2000 by his cousin Bob Chambers
Gravestone of George Nicholson Bradford

photo of Blankenberge Cemetery and GNB's grave in far right of the grass plot

Blankenberge Town Cemetery with George Bradford's grave in extreme right of the grass plot
showing George Bradford's cousin Bob Chambers in foreground.

If you are visiting this area and need a modern map to locate the roads to the cemetery, you can move directly to the "Mapquest" website from this page as follows:- CLICK HERE for an up-to-date map of the Blankenberghe area and use the "Zoom In" and "Zoom Out" facility at the righthand side of the pop-up map. The solid red star near the middle of the map marks Blankenberghe.

Historical Information:

There are now 10, 1914-18 and over 80, 1939-45 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, over 10 from the 1939-45 war are unidentified

Remembered with honour
BLANKENBERGHE TOWN CEMETERY, Blankenberghe, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Pic of the inscription at the Cenotaph

Cenotaph inscription

Lieutenant-Commander George Nicholson Bradford was born on St George's Day 23rd April 1887 at Witton Park in County Durham (the Nicholson came from his Scottish Ancestry). He was killed exactly 31 years later at Zeebrugge upon another St George's Day which will be remembered for many long years in British history.

Tribute from Admiral Viscount Jellicoe, GCB, OM, GCVO.
Admiral Jellicoe was among the first to write to Mrs Bradford a letter of admiration over the heroism which her son had shown in the Zeebrugge attack.
He wrote .....
"I remember your son so well, and admired his character as much as his great personal ability; the Service and the Country have indeed lost in him one who could ill be spared. He died, as one would have expected him to die, under circumstances of the greatest gallantry and with supreme self-sacrifice.
The letter to Mrs Bradford ended ... "From one who is very proud to have had so gallant an officer and so perfect a gentleman under his command."

Click here to see George Bradford's letters to his sister Amy

Click here for St George's Day Page - A Summary of George Bradford's death on St George's Day

Click here for Imperial War Museum's page - Shows Brigadier-General Roland Boys Bradford VC MC DLI and Lieutenant-Commander George Nicholson Bradford VC Royal Navy, were the only brothers to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the First World War. [There were 3 other sets of brothers who won the VC, but not in W.W.I.]

The 4 Brothers together

Butte-de-Warlencourt Page

Summary page about all four brothers

Mention of Roland in Book about Rommel

List of V.C. Awards during the Battles of the Somme

Durham Light Infantry Museum Details concerning Roland Bradford

Summary details and short biography of Roland Bradford by Malcolm McGregor

Roland B. Bradford:- Details from Commonwealth War Graves Commission Records

James B. Bradford:- Details from Commonwealth War Graves Commission Records

Thomas A. Bradford:- Details and photographs from the family

Amy Isabelle Bradford - the younger schoolgirl sister

The Bradford Roots

The Bradford Brothers' Memorial Plaque at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in Darlington, County Durham

LINK to Albert McKenzie and the other Zeebrugge V.C.'s

LINK to Mike Chapman's Victoria Cross Reference

LINK to British Light Infantry Regiments' site

LINK to the Durham Light Infantry site

LINK to D. L. I. Museum website

LINK to The War Graves Commission


Email Bradford Family descendants with any comments or suggestions of helpful links etc. at:

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November 20th 2007
Number of visits to this page since April 9th 2000

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