Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 40, September 1996

By C W Malcolm

Journal references to other articles regarding George Bradford are No.8, page 33; No.33, page 13; No.12, page 23; No.15, page 41; No.39, Page 9.

George Roland Bradford whose memorial fountain stands on Primrose Hill in Paeroa had those away in far off England who mourned his death in the Boer War in South Africa.

Having only recently found information that his next-of-kin was Mr F Bradford, Red Lion Inn, Brede, Sussex, I made enquiries and have just this 18 June 1996 received a reply from the very same Red Lion Inn. The writer is Miss Margaret Jee and the letter shows their relationship with George Roland Bradford.

It will be noted that she learns from my letter of "the beautiful fountain". When I wrote to this unknown person at the Red Lion Inn, I certainly did not mention its destruction by vandals and its removal to a private garden at Hikutaia.

The copy of the column from the English newspaper is reproduced in this article, together with the sketch referred to, and part of Miss Jee's letter.

It seems to me that the F Bradford given as his next-of-kin, must have been Mr Trayton Bradford, his father, and the F mistaken for the T.

The diagram below shows the relationship of the people mentioned in this article.

 

The BRADFORD FAMILY lived at Sandhurst.

Their PARENTS buried there.

 
TRAYTON BRADFORD   SARAH BRADFORD

married WILLIAM JEE

GEORGE ROLAND BRADFORD   JOHN JEE
   

MARGARET JEE

(who has written the letter)

Bradford burial sketch

[Bradford burial sketch]

Those who Mourned for Bradford
Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 40, September 1996
Bradford burial sketch

The sketch referred to in the newspaper article is reproduced on the following page [to left - E]. It will be noted that the date "3-1-99" should read "3-1-1900" as George Bradford died on 28 December 1899.

The article which appeared in Journal 39 (1995) page 9, should be read in conjunction with this article. [see Journal 39: Bradford Fountain - E]

SANDHURST

Sandhurst and the War.

The First New Zealander Killed at the Cape Lived at Sandhurst When a Lad.

Trooper G R Bradford was the first man of the New Zealand Contingent killed in the war in South Africa. The Bradford family resided at Sandhurst for over twenty years - the father and mother being interred in Sandhurst Churchyard - and young George attended school there, leaving home on his seventeenth birthday, and joining the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, in which he served his time before going to New Zealand.

When in the Guards he was servant to Lieut. L D'Aguilar, of Field Green, until that gentleman left and went to Burmah. Many persons in Sandhurst will remember George Bradford - tall and slim as he was when he last came to the village - and his quiet, gentlemanly bearing won respect. Major A W Robin, commanding the New Zealand Contingent breaks the news of his death to his friends in England in the following letter:-

"It is with great regret that I have to write you this letter. A relation of yours joined the New Zealand Contingent for service in South Africa, No. 44 Trooper George Roland Bradford, and reached this country with us serving like a true and brave soldier of the Queen. On the 18th December, 1899, during a reconnaissance the company he was with occupying Jasfontien west of Saailoschlaagte, became hotly engaged with the enemy.

One man was slightly wounded and horses injured. Your relation was badly wounded in the thigh and on falling from his horse received a fracture of the skull, rendering him insensible. From the position in which he fell it was at the time impossible to bring his body out, he being reported killed. On the Ambulance going out after the fight had ceased it was found he had been removed to the Boer Hospital. On the 30th December, 1899, the Boers were forced to retreat and on our forces occupying the position at Rensburg it was found their Hospital had been in the Station there, and reliable information received that Trooper G R Bradford and Trooper W Scott, 10th Hussars, another wounded man, had died of wounds. Trooper G R Bradford died on 28th December, 1899, he not having regained consciousness during the time in Hospital.

It will be of some comfort to you to know that the wounded were kindly treated, and that all respect had been shown to the dead by the enemy, as they had a decent burial and a cairn of stones erected, with a head board as per sketch I enclose to you. His comrades intend placing a stone on the grave before leaving Africa. His duty was finished and he fell in a great cause, for the liberty of the people and the honour of our great and common flag as all brave soldiers do. Again please accept the heartfelt sympathy of all of us."

The sketch referred to gives the positions of the graves, and the surrounding country. The inscription on the headboard, erected by the Boers reads:- "No. 44, George Roland Bradford, New Zealand Contingent. Died 28th Decr., 1899."

The last letter written by Trooper Bradford is undated, but the post mark at Cape Town is the 18th December, the same day as he was shot. In this he says: "Am still well. Have only the whistle of bullets about my ears as yet and am no way anxious to get them any closer. We have not had a big fight here yet, only a sharp skirmish or two, but the Boers are not such good shots as they are cracked up to be. I have seen them do some very bad shooting. The other morning we rode through a perfect hail of bullets at close range and only got one horse shot dead. The air whistled round our heads. But you know more of the war than I do here. I don't know the day of the week. I have no time for writing, for I have been in the saddle 19 hours out of the 24 : up every morning, saddle up, and ordered to our horses expecting a daybreak attack."

[See also Red Lion Inn story in this Journal]