BRADFORD, Frederick

Not on the war memorial but on the Roll of Honour inside the church

No.3/9888, Private, Frederick BRADFORD
Aged 31

2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry
Killed in Action on Friday, 16th September 1916

Frederick Bradford born in Stetchworth in 1886, was the son of James and Sarah Ann BRADFORD (née BRIGHT). Believed to be registered as Frederick Bertie BRADFORD [Newmarket Q2-1886 3B:560]

1891 census...Aged 3, he was at Mill Lane, Stetchworth with his father James Thompson BRADFORD [50], a farm labourer; his mother Sarah Ann [47]; brother James [24] a farm labourer; sister Mary [22] cook domestic; sister Emily [20] housemaid; brother Walter [18] understoreman; sister Sarah Ann [14] domestic servant; sister Florrie [12]; brother John [10]; sister Edith [6] and sister Maggie [3]. All recorded as born in Cambridgeshire.

1901 census...Aged 14, he was a farm labourer at Hall Farm Cottage, Stetchworth with his parents and sisters Edith and Maggie. They are now recorded as born in Stetchworth, except his mother who was born in Fulbourn.

1911 census...He has not been positively identified in the 1911 census. His father and mother were living in High Street, Stetchworth. His father died in 1916. According to his army records his mother at sometime in 1916 moved to 1 Jubilee Cottages, Park Lane, Newmarket, where she was still living, as recorded on the pension card.

After his death (around 1920), his mother, at 1 Jubilee Cottages, Park Lane Newmarket, on completing army documentation recorded as still living:
brother James Bradford [57] of 62 Grant Road, Addiscombe, Croydon;
brother Walter Bradford [46] of 17 Granby Street, Newmarket;
sister Mrs Mary DEAN [54] of 1 Jubilee Cottages, Park Lane, Newmarket;
sister Mrs Emily HANSON [49] of 50 School Street, Barnsley;
sister Mrs Lucy KNIGHTS [44] of Cheveley Green Cheveley, Cambs;
sister Mrs Sarah Ann ROWE [42] of 7 North Street, March;
sister Mrs Florie EDWARDS [40] of Shepherds House, Cheveley;
sister Mrs Edie CLAYDON [35] of Egerton House, Newmarket;
sister Maggie PARR [32] of 16 St Peter's Road, Gt Yarmouth.

On 20th January 1902 at Bury St Edmunds he was passed fit for the Militia and embodied as No. 5634 in the 3rd Battalion Suffolk Regiment on 10th March 1902. Gave his age as 17 yrs 9 months weighing 106 lbs he was 5ft 3.5 inches ( 161.3 cm) tall, chest 32" to 33" (81.3 to 83.8 cm). Fair complexion, blue eyes, auburn hair.
On 19th July 1902, in Dublin, he transferred to the Army Service Corps, he gave his age as 18 years and 3 months, born Stetchworth, a labourer. His father was named as James Bradford of Stetchworth. Religion Church of England. He was 5ft 4.5 inches (163.8 cm) tall, weighed 116 lbs (52.6 kg) chest 32" to 34.5" (81.3 to 87.6 cm), blue eyes and red hair.

He was accepted on 28th July for the A.S.C., number 19549. His 103 days in the Suffolk Regiment was to count towards his pension and service which was 3 years in the colours and 9 on Reserves, ending on 27th July 1914. All of this service was at home (which included Ireland in those days). He seemed to have a great disregard for authority and to have over-enjoyed his leisure hours in Dublin between 1902 and 1905 according to his disciplinary records which are extensive. Days confined to barracks as punishment total nearly 170 in that period, usually around 7 days occasionally 14 days.

He was discharged to the Reserves with the rank of driver on 27th July 1905. Now recorded as 21 yrs 3 months, 5' 4.5 " tall, 34.5" chest, waist 32", his intended civilian address was to be 1 Stone Cottages, Stetchworth.

In Bishop Auckland on 8th August 1914 he enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry, giving his place of birth as Stetchworth, age 30 years 113 days, a labourer. Height 5' 6" (167.6 cm), weighing 134 lbs (60.8 kg), chest 34.5" to 37.5" (87.6 to 95.3 cm), his hair colour was now recorded as brown.

He was posted to the 2nd Battalion D.L.I. in France 27th October 1914

He seems to have reasoned that prison was safer than in the trenches, but failed to circumvent Army procedures. Arrested 12th February 1915 and tried by Field General Court Martial and sentenced to 28 days Field Punishment No.I for "when on active service disobeying a lawful command given by his superior officer". This punishment ran from 20th February to 19th March 1915.

Arrested 26th February 1915 and tried by Field General Court Martial and sentenced to 2 months Field Punishment No. 1 for "when on active service absent from "parading for the trenches". Punishment to run from 1st March to 30th April 1915.

Arrested 6th March 1915 and tried by Field General Court Martial and condemned to death, to be shot, for "when on active service, disobeying in such a manner as to show wilful defiance of authority, a lawful command given by his superior officer in the execution of his office.
The sentence of death was commuted by General H.S. Dorien-Smith, commanding 2nd Army to "To suffer penal servitude for 15 years" from 15th March 1915.
On 27th April 1915 this was commuted from Penal Servitude to 2 years at Hard Labour. He was released under Suspension of Sentence Act 10th June 1915.

On 25th June 1915 he was again arrested and tried by Field Court Martial and sentenced on 30th June 1915 to 2 years at hard labour for " When ???????..(document too damaged to read)
This sentence was suspended (Authy A.G.,G.H.Q. B/759) on 9th June 1916 and he was released from prison on 13th June 1916.

He was reported missing on 16th June 1916, struck off strength on 22nd November 1916, he was on 6th July 1917 regarded as having died on 16th September 1916.

On 20th September 1916 the unexpired portion of his suspended sentence (1 year 16 days) was remitted by C.G.C 18th Brigade.
His medals were forfeited but seem to have been restored on 14th March 1917. This seems to be before his death in action was officially accepted.

Field Punishment Number 1 consisted of the convicted man being shackled in irons and secured to a fixed object, often a gun wheel or similar. He could only be thus fixed for up to 2 hours in 24, and not for more than 3 days in 4, or for more than 21 days in his sentence. This punishment was often known as 'crucifixion'.
Field Punishment Number 2 was similar except the man was shackled but not fixed to anything. Both forms were carried out by the office of the Provost-Marshal, unless his unit was officially on the move when it would be carried out regimentally i.e. by his own unit.

To prevent soldiers from trying to escape from fighting by being imprisoned, many sentences were suspended for the duration of the war, thus making the man available for front line service again. A great number had their sentences remitted later, usually after they had been died in action. Field Punishments also kept the man available for active duties.

The 2nd battalion Durham Light Infantry assembled at The Triangle on 15th September 1916 and at 7:39 pm bombed their way down Straight Trench towards The Quadrilateral. After only 100 yards they were held up. They renewed their attack on the 16th and were again held up by machine gun fire and were relieved by the 1st West Yorkshires.

Of their 39 killed, only 4 have identified graves, the rest are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. In the end, despite his chequered Army career, Frederick died in action and rests with his chums in France. He even seems to have made acting Corporal. Apparently no one applied for the clasp to his 1914 Star, but it is more than likely that he was entitled to it

Frederick died the same day, in the same battalion of the Durham Light Infantry as John Daniels from Stetchworth. see here

He was found as shown here, near GINCHY, in November 1920, identified by his uniform, boots, corporal's stripes (in his pocket) and a piece of waterproof sheet marked "988...D.L.I." The reason for his re-interment as far away as Serre Road cemetery is that most cemeteries were by then closed, just a few of the larger ones left open for just such occurrences.

photo; Roy Beardsworth

Frederick Bradford is buried in Serre Road Cemetery No.2, grave 30:B:14

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details