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George Fagan Bradshaw

by Barrie Downer

George Bradshaw was born on 6th Dec 1887 and he joined the Royal Navy as a Naval Cadet at the age of thirteen. He was promoted to Midshipman on 15th Jun 1904 and to Sub Lieutenant on 15th Aug 1907.

George Bradshaw joined Submarines when he was appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Mercury at Portsmouth 'for Submarine Training' on 15th Sep 1909. On completion of training he was appointed to the Submarine Tender HMS Onyx (Submarine Section VI) at Devonport 'for Submarines' on 1st Jan 1910. At this time Submarine Section VI was operating four 'A' Class Submarines. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 1st Apr 1910 and his next appointment was to HMS Egmont at Malta on 14th Aug 1911 'for Submarines' on the formation of the Malta Flotilla of three 'B' Class Submarines.

His first Submarine Command followed on 28th Feb 1913 when he was appointed to HMS Onyx 'for Command of Submarine A9'. A further move came on 20th Feb 1914 when he was appointed to the Submarine depot Ship HMS Bonaventure 'for Submarine C7 in Command'. He was still 'in Command' of Submarine C7 in December 1914.

George Bradshaw was next appointed to 'Submarine G13 in Command' to date 28th Aug 1916 - see Nominal List of 1st Sep 1916. Whilst 'in Command' of Submarine G13 George Bradshaw sank the German U-Boat UC-43 (Leutnant sur Zee Sebelin) off Muckle Flugga on 10th Mar 1917. He was awarded the DSO - see London Gazette of 12th May 1917 - for this action.

Later in 1917 he surfaced Submarine G13 in the North Sea for a gun action against a Zeppelin. The gun crew managed to get away five rounds against the Zeppelin before the Airship got astern of the Submarine and made an unsuccessful bombing attack. George Bradshaw was forced to dive to safety and was then kept deep all day by the Zeppelin.

Promotion to Lieutenant Commander followed on 1st Apr 1918. George Bradshaw was then appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Lucia 'for Command of Submarine L11' to date 16th Apr 1918. Later in 1918, whilst Submarine L11 was refitting, he was appointed temporarily 'in Command' of Submarine G11 when the Commanding Officer went sick.

The proper Commanding Officer of Submarine G11 was Lieutenant Commander Charles Gordon Norrie Graham, Royal Navy and he was taken ill with 'Spanish Flu' and was temporarily relieved by Lieutenant Richard Sandford, VC, Royal Navy.

Lieutenant Sandford was also taken ill (and subsequently died of typhoid) and George Bradshaw ended up taking Submarine G11 to sea at short notice. Whilst he was 'in Command' of Submarine L11 it was wrecked off Howick, Northumberland on 22nd Nov 1918 - all but two of the crew were saved. After the loss of G11 George Bradshaw continued to serve in HMS Lucia 'as Spare Commanding Officer' and was still there in December 1918.

George Bradshaw was appointed to the Battle Ship HMS Resolution on 24th Mar 1919 'for his Big Ship time' and he served in that Ship until 10th Jan 1921. He was then appointed to 'Submarine K15 in Command' on 16th Feb 1921.

K15 sank alongside HMS Canterbury in Portsmouth Dockyard on the night of 25th Jun 1921 as the result of an accident caused by failing to check draught marks and 'blow round' all Main Ballast tanks. There were no casualties. Following the loss of Submarine K15 George Bradshaw was appointed to HMS Dolphin as 'Spare Commanding Officer' on 5th Aug 1921. He was then appointed to HMS Victory 'for unemployed time' from 1st Sep 1921 to 8th Nov 1921 and was next appointed to HMS Excellent 'for Courses at the Anti-Gas School' from 9th Nov 1921 to 7th Dec 1921 before reverting to 'Half Pay'. He was transferred to the Retired List 'at his own request' on 1st Jun 1922.

George Bradshaw was promoted Commander on the Retired List on 6th Dec 1927. In retirement he became an artist of some note and was a member of the 'Newlyn' School and exhibited at the RSA, RA and in Paris. He was recalled for further service during WWII and was appointed to HMS President II on 30th Aug 1939. George Bradshaw died after several years of ill health on 27th Oct 1960. His ill health resulted from an accident at Newlyn during WWII when his boat triggered a magnetic mine in Newlyn Harbour.

By all accounts George Bradshaw (I was reliably informed by the late Leading Stoker 'Fred' Lamb - a neighbour of my parents in Poole and who served in Submarine K15 with George Bradshaw) was a very popular Commanding Officer. He was known by the Crew as 'Nutty' Bradshaw, but not to his face of course.

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