Private, 21st (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers. Service Number: 32254.
Edward Bradley was born at Keighley in 1882 with his birth being registered at Keighley in the last quarter of the year.
His parents were about 49 and 42 years of age in that year, so quite old to be having children.
They were living at 43, Sun Street in Keighley for both the 1881 and 1891 census so it's quite likely that Edward was born in that particular house.
By the 1891 census Edward was eight years old and still living with his parents. He also had a number of older siblings, some of whom were adult.
They were Ellen, aged 24, James aged 22, Hannah aged 16, Ann Elizabeth aged 14 and John aged 12. Edward was very much the baby of the family.
Father John was a woolcomber and his four eldest children were also working in textile mills. There were also two young men (Thomas Beanland and Harry Hannah) boarding in the house so there were ten people living in it. They weren't very big houses and they were also constructed as 'back to back' properties, so it would have been rather cramped and their only exit was the front door with windows on just one side of the property, facing the street.
All of of these properties were later condemned as unsuitable and were demolished in the 1960s.
In 1901 Edward was 19 and still living at the family home at 43, Sun Street. There were just his parents and his elder brother John but the Hammil family of two parents and three very young children were also boarding with them.
In late 1910, Edward was 27 when he married 23 year old Eliza Hames who hailed from Featherstone. In 1911 they were living at 95, Wellington Street which was just the other side of the back to back streets Edward had been living in as a young boy, so he hadn't moved very far! He was working as a labourer in an iron foundry, of which there were many locally and their home was in the midst of a large amount of heavy industry.
They had a young son William who was born in the first quarter of 1911 and things must have seemed quite good for them as a new family, but sadly William died in 1912 at the age of about 18 months.
They had moved to 56 Wellington Street by 1913 and again to 47, Green Street in 1914. The three streets, Green Street, Sun Street and Wellington Street ran parallel to one another, with rows of tightly packed back to back houses which were probably all rented.
Edward was employed by Summerscales and Sons at Coney Lane, Keighley, just a couple of streets away from his home. They made all manner of cast iron machines for all sorts of purposes, both domestic and industrial and even supplied the Army with special disinfectors during the war. Edward was a painter, so he was probably painting some of the many machines produced by this successful company.
Their daughter Ellen was born on 18th June 1917, registered at Keighley in the third quarter of the year.
There are sadly no Army service records for Edward, but from other records we can estimate that he had served for less than 12 months, meaning he enlisted (in Keighley) sometime in the late spring of 1916, possibly as a Derby recruit after being called up for service.
He was on front line service with the 21st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish) when he was killed in action on 9th April 1917.
WO-95/2462/5/1 War diary entry for April 1917:
(The FRONT LINE position was about half a mile to the East of ROCLINCOURT)
9th April, 2.30 am.
2nd Lt. Woodcock of "B" Company, with a small party, conducted a thorough examination of the enemy wire, and reported that for the most part this was non-existent in front of us.
ZERO Hour. The Battalion advanced on a 2 Company front, with "A" Company on the right, and "B" Company of the left, with "C" and "D" Companies in support, "C" to "A" and "D" to "B" respectively. The 101st Brigade was on our right, and we had 22nd N.F. (3rd Tyneside Scottish) on our left.
The 1st objective was the BLACK LINE, a system of German trenches comprising four distinct lines.
NO MAN'S LAND was about 70 yards across, but the Battalion had formed up close to the remains of Bosche wire at approximately 4.30 a.m., and when the barrage lifted the troops rushed forward to the attack. The capture of the 1st objective as accomplished in about an hour.
A message timed 6-30 a.m. was received from Capt. H. W. Waller O.C. "A" Company to the effect that KUCHEN WEG, a trench beyond the BLACK LINE had been captured by his Company.
The capture was accomplished with small loss. O.C. No. 3 Platoon, 2nd Lt. R.A. Macneill was killed in the second line of German trenches, whilst 2nd. Lts. Corlett, Donaghy and Woodcock were wounded before reaching the 1st objective. These latter officers were in command of Nos. 1, 2 & 5 Platoons.
The 2nd. objective, named the BLUE LINE, distant about 1200 yards, was attacked about 7-45 a.m. and its capture completed about 11 a.m. Again casualties in other ranks were comparatively few, but, at this time the toll of officers was severe. O.C. No. 14 Platoon, 2nd Lt. T.E. Bainbridge, was killed, together with his platoon sergeant while at work establishing a bombing post near the Railway Cutting. Hostile snipers gave a great deal of trouble at this point, but prompt action was taken to route(sic) them out.
O.C. "A" Company, with a small party captured a light field gun, and crew, at G.26.c.5.7. A Machine gun and machine gunner were also captured in an emplacement H.1.b.45.75. Battalion H.Q. moved up to the BLACK LINE and was established at G.6.b.75.65. After the consolidation of the BLUE LINE, Headquarters again moved up to the Point, approximately B.25.d.9.3. The night passed fairly quietly but the weather was extremely cold.
[At some point during this prolonged attack, Edward was killed in action.]
Keighley News 26th May 1917 page 3:
Official intimation has been received that Private Edward Bradley of the Northumberland Fusiliers, whose wife resides at 47, Green Street, Keighley, has been killed in action. Before joining the Army Bradley was employed as a painter by Messrs. W and S. Summerscales's Sons, Coney Lane, Keighley.
Edward was laid to rest in a battlefield grave somewhere near to the front line position of March 1917. His body amongst several others, was exhumed in 1919 and reburied in Roclincourt Valley Cemetery, Pas de Calais in France. He is in grave 13 of Row A in plot IV.
Edward was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal for his war service. These would have been sent to Eliza in 1920 or 1921 along with a Great War Memorial plaque and King's certificate thanking him for his service.
Eliza would also have received his personal effects and his outstanding back pay from the Army.
She received £1 15s. 9d. on 23rd August 1917 and a war gratuity payment of £3 on 14th November 1919.
Eliza also received a war widows pension from the Army. This amounted to 18 shillings and 9 pence per week and was to support herself and their daughter Ellen.
Edward is remembered in perpetuity on his grave by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in France.
He is remembered on the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.
Locally though, he is not named on any war memorial or roll of honour in Keighley and District.
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915
West Yorkshire, England, Electoral Registers, 1840-1962
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
National Archives war diary WO-95/2462/5/1
Keighley News archives held at Keighley library
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in the Great War
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
Scotland, National War Memorial Index, 1914-1945
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923