Friday 9 October 2015

"Brigadier General Roland Boys Bradford VC"

One of the greatest officers ever to serve in the British Army was Brigadier General Roland Boys Bradford VC.

At the time he was from one of the most famous military families. He had three brothers, one of them George Nicholson Bradford was a Royal Navy Captain who was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Roland Bradford and two of his other bothers served in the Durham Light Infantry, both of his bothers in the DLI were awarded the Military Cross.


VC Citation - for Roland Bradford

For most conspicuous bravery and good leadership in attack, whereby he saved the situation on the right flank of his Brigade and of the Division. Lieutenant-Colonel Bradford's Battalion was in support. A leading Battalion having suffered very severe casualties, and the Commander wounded, its flank became dangerously exposed at close quarters to the enemy. Raked by machine-gun fire, the situation of the Battalion was critical. At the request of the wounded Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Bradford asked permission to command the exposed Battalion in addition to his own. Permission granted, he at once proceeded to the foremost lines. By his fearless energy under fire of all description, and his skilful leadership of the two Battalions, regardless of all danger, he succeeded in rallying the attack, captured and defended the objective, and so secured the flank.

The London Gazette, 24 November 1916


One evening he spoke to the men under his command in the Durham Light Infantry, he said to them, "Men from this evening on I want you to sing the following hymn every evening, regardless of if you are in the trenches or in your billets."

The hymn was, "Abide With Me."

He was the youngest officer ever to reach the rank of Brigadier General, soon after his promotion he was once again in No Man's Land and was killed in action at the age of 25.

Sadly victory sometimes comes at a great cost, of the eight million men in the British Armed Forces that served in the war almost one million were killed. Millions of those who served were Christians, including three preachers that were awarded the Victoria Cross and three members (possibly four) from the Salvation Army who were also awarded the Victoria Cross.

The hymn became the anthem of the Durham Light Infantry before it became the anthem of the FA Cup Final. It's our hymn, it belongs to Sunderland.

John William Jackson my Grandfather's bother

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