Hello to All

Discussion in 'User Introductions' started by Paul Bradford, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    I'm an Old Fart that has an interest in Military history. My Grandfather on my Mothers side was called up for service in WW1. At some point after call up, but before embarkation, they found out he was deaf in one ear. He was probably fortunate to be de-mobilised. When WW2 arrived, he became an ARP Warden. I recall him telling me about 'capturing' if that is the right word as they had nowhere else to go, the downed crew of a German bomber. I never asked any more about it, but some years after he died, I saw a photograph in a book of ARP Wardens with German aircrew. It wasn't a clear photograph, but I have always wondered if it was him. I remember as a young child my Mother clearing out the under stairs cupboard at his house and her throwing away his ARP tin helmet, axe and the old gas masks that were stored there.
    My Grandfather on my Fathers side was ex Rifle Brigade. He joined around 1933 and left in early 1939, only to be called up again. He was captured at Calais. He made it to the end of the harbour wall and was told by a German tank commander to surrender or die. He marched for six weeks until he arrived at his camp and said they had to forage for themselves until arrival. He told me the hardest thing to eat was raw rhubarb. He also said that while retreating, they had orders to blow up a bridge. There were civilians on it at the time. He said that the soldier that was told to blow the bridge, was shot after refusing. My Grandfather never said what part he took part in, but the bridge was blown. He said at the time that the Rifle Brigade was like a family and next of kin got to know how the soldiers died at that time, apart from that one as it was kept quiet. I could not get him to talk about his experiences any more, but wished that I had.

    I think it is invaluable to talk to as many old service personnel as possible. History is generally written by the victors. There is so much more to know. Some years ago I read a book that was recommended to me by Amazon. It Never Snows in September by Robert Kershaw. Operation Market Garden from the German soldiers point of view. A very good read.

    I'm now compiling information about my wife's Great Uncle, Marcus Kramer RAFVR DFC (awarded after the raid on Waalhaven).

    Keep up the good work.

    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
    RosyRedd, Seroster, Owen and 2 others like this.
  2. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    Welcome Paul, what was your paternal grandfathers name? Have you applied for any of their war records yet?

    international Red Cross will be taking on the next set of POW enquiries around 15th January if memory serves me correctly.
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  3. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    Hi Amberdog,

    Thank you for the welcome. Robert (Bob) Bradford. Born 1915. I haven't applied for any War records of his at all. That would be a good idea. I have been more inclined so far to find out about my wife's relative.
    amberdog45 likes this.
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

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  5. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    Something that might be of interest to some is that my Aunt's (Bob's daughter) husband (I suppose that you could call him my Uncle) was a Colonel in the Spanish Foreign Legion. His Father was in The Blue Division. The division sent to assist Hitler following his support of Spain in the Spanish Civil War. He served at the siege of Leningrad. He left as a Captain and returned a Major. He was awarded the Iron Cross. My Uncle has his medals and dog tags framed. He still has his Lugers (one dress and almost mint and the other slightly worn) and one holster. He has kept his uniform badges, but unfortunately not the uniform.
    So, people in my family tree from both sides!
    amberdog45 likes this.
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Hi Paul and welcome to the forum.
    Paul Bradford likes this.
  7. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    The first two entries might be your Robert. Probably the 1st entry will be reporting him missing and the 2nd when confirmed POW. findmypast.co.uk
  8. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    Thank you Amber. That looks like the very fellow!
  9. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

  10. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    There's actually 3 Casualty List entries for Robert. One in 1945, probably when he was released.

    There's also one POW entry. Findmypast have 14 day free trial or you could wait til they have a free weekend. Maybe a forum member here with a subscription might download them for you.

    But I'm diverting you. Get their MOD records first always.

    Forces War Records do not hold the service records, don't be fooled by their claims.

    Ancestry also have some POW docs, but this is all secondary to getting the right records with the link Tricky Dicky gave you.
    Paul Bradford likes this.
  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    POW's - R Bradford

    R Bradford East Yorkshire Regiment Wolfsberg, Austria 4346496 39900 XVIII-A 20

    R Bradford Rifle Brigade Hohenfels, Rhineland-Palatinate 6912790 14254 383 24

    R D Bradford Reconnaissance Corps Wolfsberg, Austria 7909480 2246 XVIII-A 3

    R W Bradford Royal Air Force : Officers & Other Ranks Sagan and Belaria, Poland 1197443 260742 L3

    If you let me know which one I will pull upload the full record from Ancestry

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  12. amberdog45

    amberdog45 Senior Member

    The Rifles entry TD, starting 69
  13. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    Thank you Amber and you too Tricky. Great people here!
  14. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce

    Hello and welcome to the forum Paul.
    I see you are getting great help already:)

    Paul Bradford likes this.
  15. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    Hello Lesley,
    I am. I found people on a medal forum and also on RAF Commands to be very much the same. I like to be helpful too when I can, but in this day and age had forgotten how refreshing it can be when people respond positively!
  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    Welcome to the forum
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  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: R Bradford
    Rank: Corporal
    Army Number: 6912790
    Regiment: Rifle Brigade
    POW Number: 14254
    Camp Type: Stalag
    Camp Number: 383
    Camp Location: Hohenfels, Rhineland-Palatinate
    Record Office: Rifle Corps Record Office, Winchester
    Record Office Number: 24

    The camp number will be probably the last one he was in as the census's were last taken in late 1944 or very early 1945. Chances are he was in others but his lib report or IIRC records will give more detail.

    Maybe you can add some info to this site - Stalag 383 Hohenfels in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

    There is quite a bit regarding this camp on the web

  18. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    Thank you Tricky,
    That is a great bit of information. I will take a look at the site as well. It is interesting that he is recorded as a Corporal as I am sure that he told me that he was a Sergeant. Were people promoted whilst POW's?
    I just remembered that during a conversation with him, he said that my Father has his medals, but he said that he hasn't got them all. They weren't close, partly due to the fact that with my father being born in December 1938, his first memory of my Grandfather is him returning in 1945 and not knowing him at all. Also, in the early 1950's my Grandfather became a Jehovah's Witness and forced the faith upon my Father, who didn't become one. They were at loggerheads probably for the rest of my Grandfathers life. We never became JW's and I never found that his religion caused a rift between us. Each to his own. I know for a fact that at the end of his life, his faith brought him great peace.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  19. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member


    A very good insight into the fall of Calais on 26 May 1940 is contained in Airey Neave's publication "The Flames of Calais" and the involvement of the Rifle Brigade along with other units to hold the port.

    I think your Grandfather might have been in the contingent which were sent to hold the port as late as a few days before the port fell. This contingent under Brigadier Claude Nicholson comprised of The 3rd Battalion RTR, The 1st Battalion, Queen Victoria's Rifles,The Second Battalion,The 60th Rifles and the First Battalion,The Rifle Brigade and were sent to Calais for the sole purpose of holding the port and preventing the Germans from pushing up to the Dunkirk perimeter.

    The Rifle Brigade's defence of Caiais is remembered by a memorial which is accessed from the Calais beaches on the west side of the port.

    Visit France
  20. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    Thank you Harry for that information. Now living in France, I often use Calais Port when driving back to the UK. As I drive down to the port passing the dunes, I often wonder what it was like in 1940.
    My Grandfather said they were fighting a retreat and yet it was something they had never been taught to do. I asked him once if he had ever tried to escape. He reply surprised me as he was vehemently anti-government of the time. He felt that he had no reason to try to escape when he felt the government didn't do enough to get more troops off. I responded with the argument, that had he been one of those taken off, we might never had met him as he could have died elsewhere. That didn't change his mind.
    During the 1960's he would take his family on holiday camping in Spain, driving through France. He told me that he spoke no French, but was able to get by in France using the German that he had learnt whilst a prisoner!
    My Mother bought me a book some years after he died. I cannot recall the title now, but it was something like Dunkirk and After. It mentioned that for some months after Dunkirk, that troops were still being brought off isolated beaches.
    CL1 likes this.

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