Wilfred Bradley

Personnel header
Lieutenant Wilfred Bradley
Life dates
1921 - 1995
Postings
Unit or location Role Posted from until
Barnack, Area 2 Area Officer Royal Signals 1942 1944
Cheviot, Area 11 Area Officer Royal Signals 14 Apr 1942 1943
Ormskirk, Area 9 Area Officer Royal Signals 1942 1943
Chiswell, Area 12 Area Officer Royal Signals 1942 1943
Elgin, Area 1 Area Officer Royal Signals 1943 1944
Bowland, Area 10 Area Officer Royal Signals 1943 1944
Regiment
The Royal Signals
Military number
220715
Commissioned or Enlisted
27 Dec 1941
Career

In April 1939 he joined the Teritorrial Army as a signalman, serving with The Middlesex Imperial Yeomanry based at the Duke of York's barrack in Chelsea. He was a driver/operator, though the wireless equipment was of First World War vintage. On 1st September 1939 he was mobilised and initially worked as a wireless operator for emergency communications in a London Police station. His unit then joined K Battery, 5 RHA (Royal Horse Artillery) on Salisbury Plain for training, before embarking at Southampton for le Harve. They served during the phoney war, moving into Belgium following the German attack in May 1940. His unit then fell back towards Dunkirk, having to destroy their guns, but managing to shoot down a Stuka with their rifles. He embarked on the Isle of Man Steamer - Tynwald from the infamous mole, and though bombed on the Channel crossing, made it back to Dover.

After a spell recovering in a tented camp in Devon and then in South Wales, he was posted to the Honourable Artillery Company, located at Sudbury in Suffolk, as the Colonel's Wireless operator. Next he went to 6th Armoured Division where he was promoted corporal, before being sent for officer training.

Commissioned on 27th December 1941, he was first sent to Edinburgh to command No.73 Medium wireless unit, but was bored and put in for a more active posting. It was while on leave at his parents home in early 1942 at Cobham in Surrey that he received orders to report to Coleshill House. There he found himself having dinner with a number of titled officers (Likely Captain The Lord Delamere and Captain The Honourable Michael T Henderson) and was asked by the CO, Lord Glanusk to write down his life story. The next day, the structure and purpose of Auxiliary Units was explained during a long cross country walk with Major RMA Jones, Commanding Officer of the Signals section.

Lieutenant Bradley took charge of the Royal Signals personnel covering Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. His headquarters was at Bury St Edmunds and he remained in the area for around a year. In summer 1943 he was then sent to a new base in Edinburgh to take over an even larger area, stretching from John O'Groats to Hull. Whilst serving there, he was sent to Balmoral, where he was responsible for communications for Auxiliary Units Men from Northumberland and Scotland, selected to provide security for the Royal Family during their first wartime stay at the estate. He set up a communications station on a nearby hill and other concealed observation bunkers that were in touch with it. He also set up a wireless station in the Lounge at Balmoral, which greatly interested the King who spoke with him at length. This also pleased his staff as it was felt the distraction was beneficial as the King was not in the best of health. He helped wire up battery lamps to light a concert held at the Castle too. In September 1944, this duty came to end and he returned to Coleshill House to discover the Special Duties organisation has been wound up in his absence and they had forgotten all about his section. He had even missed the Aux Units Signals Stand Down photo. Whilst at a loose end at Coleshill he recalled building a stage with lighting and a projection booth for film shows.

No longer required at Coleshill, he was moved to a holding camp at Liverpool, and eventually was posted to India after a suggestion of service in Norway. He took charge of the entertainments on the way out, the Polish ship, Batory, unusually carrying many women and four hundred children. 

Once in India, he was posted to Delhi, then Madras and finally Colombo in what was then Ceylon. He specialised in direction finding and using this to track down spies using transmitters. He managed to fit in a visit to the Taj Mahal and trekking in Kashmir. He was promoted to Captain, but found the work a great strain at times. In Colombo, many of the captured agents were turned into double agents, transmitting false details. He ended the war in Singapore, in command of a unit after the Japanese surrender. His Commanding Officer had been killed in a plane crash, so he ended up signing his own discharge papers from the Army.

Other information

Born in Wood Green, London. Junior Audit Clerk with Prudential Assurance Company. On 22nd December 1944 while driving on Queensferry Road, Edinburgh he knocked down William Nicoll Heddle. The case came to court and the press reported that he was a member of Auxiliary Units Signals. He was fined £10 for failing to stop and report the accident. After the war he worked for Rediffusion, particularly in radio-frequency heating, with a number of his ideas patented. He left when they decided that research into video recorders was a waste of time! He then developed radio-frequency welding technology for the Hydeaway Plastics Company. In November 1967 he was awarded the Efficiency Medal (Territorial). After a twenty year career successfully running factories for the Adis brush company he moved to New Milton and ran his own printing company for a number of years. He retired there but kept occupied with various charity works, running a large neighbourhood watch and organising the New Forest Marathon. He died in 1995, shortly after making contact with Arthur Gabbitas, who had been his sergeant at Lincoln, but before he could make it to a planned reunion.

References

Personal communication with his daughter Lynne, The Scotsman 25th January 1944; New Milton Advertiser and Times 21st Jan 1995;
New Forest Post 4th May 1995; Daily Express 1995 ; www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/35415/supplement/228/data.pdf; www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/44461/supplement/12985/data.pdf