George Nicholson Bradford VC

Name: George Nicholson Bradford

Conflict: First World War

Gazetted: March 17, 1919

Service: Royal Navy

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George Nicholson Bradford VC
George Nicholson Bradford Medals
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Place/date of birth: Darlington, Co Durham/April 23, 1887

Rank when awarded VC (and later highest rank): Lieutenant Commander

Date of bravery: April 22/3, 1918

London Gazette citation:

Lieutenant-Commander George Nicholson Bradford, R.N.

For most conspicuous gallantry at Zeebrugge on the night of the 22nd-23rd April, 1918.

This officer was in command of the Naval Storming Parties embarked in “Iris II.” When “Iris II.” proceeded alongside the Mole great difficulty was experienced in placing the parapet anchors owing to the motion of the ship. An attempt was made to land by the scaling ladders before the ship was secured. Lieutenant Claude E. K. Hawkings (late “Erin”) managed to get one ladder in position and actually reached the parapet, the ladder being crashed to pieces just as he stepped off it. This very gallant young officer was last seen defending himself with his revolver. He was killed on the parapet.

Though securing the ship was not part of his duties, Lieut.-Commander Bradford climbed up the derrick, which carried a large parapet anchor and was rigged out over the port side; during this climb the ship was surging up and down and the derrick crashing on the Mole; waiting his opportunity he jumped with the parapet anchor on to the Mole and placed it in position.

Immediately after hooking on the parapet anchor Lieut.-Commander Bradford was riddled with bullets from machine guns and fell into the sea between the Mole and the ship. Attempts to recover his body failed.

Lieut.-Commander Bradford’s action was one of absolute self-sacrifice; without a moment’s hesitation he went to certain death, recognising that in such action lay the only possible chance of securing “Iris II” and enabling her storming parties to land.

Click here to see full Gazette entry.

Other decorations: N/A

Place/date of death: Zeebrugge, Belgium/April 23, 1918

Grave/memorials: Blankenberge Communal Cemetery, Belgium

Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased at auction, Spink, London, 1988.

Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum