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Words and Letters of Tribute about Brigadier-General R B Bradford VC MC DLI

Tribute from John Buchan, the well respected and popular author of that time
In appreciation of Roland, Mr John Buchan wrote these touching and comforting words:-

"It is customary, when we count the cost of war, to dwell especially upon the sacrifice of youth. The young men who would have shaped the future have perished in laying its foundations. Gifts of inestimable value to the world have been lost to it before they could find scope or fruition. Poets and thinkers have died, mute but not inglorious; men of action, statesmen, builders of society have passed before they could reveal themselves, leaving only an inheritance of 'unfulfilled renown'.

"But there is another side to the tragedy. There are many of the dead whom we can think of as having been born for the Great War, as having always been in training for it. Boys fresh from school or college have found in a few years of campaigning a far richer career than most men who reach the full span of life. In a short space they attain perfection, for

'It is not growing like a tree,
In bulk, doth make man better be'

"Who, in the retrospect can say that lives like Francis Grenfell's or William Congreve's were not fully lived?

"Our first feeling when we hear of such losses is of tragic waste; but our later and wiser thought is of a most complete and splendid fulfilment.
"In the long roll of the young dead Roland Bradford is in some ways the most conspicuous figure. In three years of war he had made a great career, and he fell at the age of twenty-five, the youngest General in the British Army. His family, which contained both Durham and Kentish strains, had a record which few could equal."

Here are the words which Field-Marshal Earl Haig GCB, wrote about Roland in connection with "The General Bradford Memorial Fund":

I knew Bradford quite well and had personally followed his career with friendly interest for some time previous to his death. He was an officer of outstanding talent and personality; as a Battalion and Brigade Commander exceptionally young but particularly capable. His death was a great loss to the Army, and I and all who had known or served with him deeply deplored it.
I feel with you that a National Memorial to such a gallant officer and gentleman would be a most fitting tribute to his sterling qualities. The example of his unselfish courage and devotion to duty is, in my opinion, worthy of being kept in continual remembrance by the Nation he died to serve."

Tribute from Major-General Walter Braithwaite, Commander of the 62nd (West Riding) Division
General Braithwaite published the following statement a day or two after Roland was killed on 30th November 1917:

"It is with the deepest regret that the Divisional Commander has to announce that Brigadier-General R.B. Bradford VC MC (DLI), commanding the 186th Infantry Brigade, was killed in action on November 30th. Though General Bradford has been so short a time in command of the 186th Brigade, the exploits of that brigade in their wonderful advance on the 20th November and succeeding days will ever be associated with his name, no less than will the fighting and consolidation in Bourlon Wood. The 62nd (West Riding) Division is the poorer by the loss of so gallant and determined a leader and the army can ill afford to lose a soldier of real genius such as was our late comrade."

Here is what Major Veitch M C wrote about Roland":

He had an extraordinarily charming personality. His smile and greeting on meeting you actually made you feel that there was nothing he liked better than to see you. His first thought for everyone, officers or men, was their comfort. His attention to details was extraordinary. He saw to everything himself, even to superintending a working party."

Tribute from an officer in the 186th Brigade
This officer wrote at once to Mrs Bradford as follows:

"He had only been with us a short time, but he had already endeared himself by his exceptional charm of manner to every officer and man in the Brigade. He inspired the most wonderful confidence in everyone, and the men would have gone anywhere for him. We have lost a real friend and a great leader."

Tribute from Roland's longtime batman and friend, Lance Corporal King
Quotations from letters of sympathy and admiration were sent without number; but none of them could have been dearer to Roland's heart than Lance Corporal King's.

King had been Roland's servant from 1912 until the end. They were not only servant and master, but friends, and Roland did not forget in his will to leave a generous legacy as a remembrance for so many years' faithful service.

"The General," King wrote, "let me go on leave three days before they had to go into action on November 20th, and I got back on December 2nd. The poor General was killed on November 30th, and the first words I spoke when I got back were to some of the men of his Brigade asking if he was all right. And they gave me the sad answer, and I can tell you it nearly broke my heart after being with him for so long. I have been back nearly a fortnight and can't get settled down at all. I feel as though I don't know where I want to be."

A corporal in the 9th D.L.I. also wrote of how he met a Wesleyan padre attached to the 62nd Division in France with a firsthand comment on Roland's view on the need for a spiritual dimension in the lives of his men. The corporal says:

"He told me that he had been sent for by Brigadier-General Bradford on the night before the latter took over his brigade for the attack of Bourlon Wood. The Brigadier wanted a list of places where padres could be found during the attack, and expressed the opinion that padres during such an event were as important as any General. It was the first time, the padre told me, that such a request had been made of him."

Tribute from Colonel Oldfield, as recorded by A.J. Smithers in his book "Cambrai" (pages 127 & 128)
Reading in "Cambrai" we find mention of a letter written by Col. Oldfield remarking that his Brigadiers in 51st were the best in the Army.

"Admirable though they were, there was a Brigadier who stood head and shoulders above the rest. Boys Bradford, 25 years old, commander of an Infantry Brigade and holder of the Victoria Cross, was not of the common run of men.

The first fine careless rapture of 20th November (1917) seemed long ago. Units were not where they should have been, liaison officers from the Tank Corps, soaked, frozen, hungry and worn out, searched in vain for the Headquarters they needed. Bradford was quite another matter. Once the shivering Tank Officers had found his H.Q. in the catacomb under Graincourt church, operations began to take shape. First Bradford insisted that they eat, drink and thaw out a little, then they talked plans. Bradford was the ideal General for work of this kind. One of Hobart's 1935 party wrote that 'Bradford made a great impression on me and, though I have forgotten much about Cambrai, I shall always remember him and his great power of leadership.'"

Herbert Hensley Henson, Lord Bishop of Durham, in his address at Roland's Memorial Service, includes the thought that:

"Roland Bradford's religion stood the test of War. He belongs to the great company of Christian soldiers, men who read their dreadful duty as part of Christ's claim on them, and carried into the campaign the high passion of the Crusader. What a company it is! Godfry de Bouillon, St Louis, Simon de Montfort, Sir Philip Sidney, Gustavus Adolphus, Oliver Cromwell, Colonel Gardiner, and countless more - to this glorious fellowship of dedicated warriors Roland Bradford belongs. Of them severally the text might be spoken, "he persevered because he saw Him Who is invisible (Heb xi v.27.)"

Roland had won, and deserved to win, both affection and admiration. And at this moment, men of high rank and of low alike found time in the stress of war to add their tributes to his memory.

See the Welcoming Address Roland gave to his new troops.... Click Here!

Click here to read about Roland Bradford's remarkable elder brother George, killed on his 31st birthday at Zeebrugge in the Royal Navy and also a winner of the V.C.

PIC of the 4 Brothers together

Summary page about all four brothers

Butte-de-Warlencourt Page

Durham Light Infantry Museum Details concerning Roland Bradford

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

Summary details and short biography of Roland Bradford by Malcolm McGregor

Mention of Roland in Book about Rommel

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

George N 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

St George's Day Page (summary of George Bradford's death)

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

The Bradford Roots

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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