Stoker 1st Class George Bradley, Royal Navy
HMS Fleur de Lys

Town Memorial World War II

Stoker 1st Class

Service Number P/KX 115649
Died 14/10/1941
Aged 32
H.M.S. Fleur de Lys.
Royal Navy
Son of Thomas and Martha Bradley; husband of Ada Elizabeth Bradley, of Leatherhead, Surrey.
Location: Hampshire, United Kingdom
Cemetery/memorial reference: Panel 54, Column 3

Standing on Southsea Common overlooking the promenade in Portsmouth, Hampshire, is the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. It commemorates nearly 10,000 naval personnel of the First World War and almost 15,000 of the Second World War who were lost or buried at sea.

HMS Fleur de Lys
Launched as La Dieppoise for the French Navy, but completed as HMS Fleur de Lys for the Royal Navy after France was invaded by Germany.
HMS Fleur de Lys (Lt. Alexander Collins, RNR) was torpedoed and sunk on 14 October 1941 by the German submarine U-206 about 55 nautical miles west of Gibraltar in position 36º00'N, 06º30'W. There were only three survivors.

Name: HMS Fleur de Lys (K 122)
Type: Corvette (Flower)
Tonnage: 925 tons
Completed: 1940 - Smith´s Dock Co Ltd, South Bank, Middlesbrough
Owner: The Admiralty     
Date of attack: 14 Oct 1941
At 03.36 hours on 14 October 1941, U-206 fired a spread of three torpedoes at HMS Fleur de Lys (K 122) (Lt A. Collins, RNR) about 55 miles west of Gibraltar. The corvette had escorted convoy OG-75 to port the day before and was ordered to patrol in the Straits of Gibraltar to search for U-boats that had chased convoy. One of the torpedoes struck her on port side under the bridge after a running time of 92 seconds, causing the magazine to explode. The ship broke in two and both parts disappeared within a few minutes. The commander, four officers and 65 ratings were lost. Only three ratings, two of them injured, survived the sinking and were picked up after a few hours by the Spanish motor merchant Castillo Villafranca.

The crew list can be seen via this link.

The sinking was widely reported in the press on Saturday 18th October 1941, eg the Daily Record:
CORVETTE SUNK The Board of Admiralty regrets to announce that the corvette H.M.S. Fleur de Lys (Lt. A Collins. R.N.R.) has been sunk. Next-of-kin of casualties have been informed.
George Bradley served as RN not RNVR suggesting that he had signed on, rather than for Hostilities Only.

Those familiar with the 1953 film The Cruel Sea starring Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden, Denholm Elliott, Stanley Baker, Liam Redmond, Virginia McKenna and Moira Lister, or the 1951 book of the same name by Nicholas Monsarrat, may recall that it dealt with the [fictional] Flower Class Corvette Compass Rose.

A few months after the sinking of HMS Fleur de Lys the Type VIIC U-206 was reported missing on 4 December 1941 after repeatedly failing to report its position. It is possible that U-206 was lost in the British minefield Beech, an area off St. Nazaire where aircraft of RAF Bomber Command had regularly been laying sea mines since August 1940.

His life

George Bradley was born on 5 May 1909 in Camberwell, London

His father was Thomas Bradley born 1871, died in July 1915 in Camberwell, London
His mother was Martha Bradley née Swannell, born 8 May 1871 in Camberwell, London, died in March 1943.
They were married on 6 June 1892 at All Saints, Hatcham Park, Lewisham.

In the 1911 Census the 1 year-old George's large family were living at 4 Juniper Place, Pomeroy Street, New Cross SE. Those enumerated were:
Thomas Bradley 41, Martha Bradley  40, Samuel Bradley 16, Martha Bradley 12, Thomas Bradley 11, Elizabeth Bradley 9, Alice Bradley 8, John Bradley 6, Florence Bradley 5 and George Bradley 1. His father was described as 'Labourer, Brass Foundry, assisting wheelwright'.

There is a record of a one year-old George Bradley, admitted on 24 January 1910 to the Holborn Workhouse, from where he was discharged on 20 February 1910 to his mother.

George married Ada Elizabeth Crane in 1934 at All Saints, Deptford, Kent. She was a daughter of Albert Sidney Crane, a Cooper by trade, and Maud Ellen Cooper. She was born on 10 February 1910 and was baptised at St Mary's Rotherhithe on 20 October 1911. She died in December 1987 in Surrey.

The birth of their son Keith G Bradley was registered at Greenwich, London in October 1936.

In the 1939 England & Wales National Register George and Ada were recorded at 16 Trim Street, Deptford. His occupation was 'Master Window Cleaner', she was a 'retired shop assistant'.

And there, for the present, until George's death in 1941 we lose track of the Bradleys. 

The Electoral Registers permit us to follow his widow Ada E Bradley and now there is a connection with Leatherhead:

1945: she is at 17 Oaks Close, Leatherhead: with Ida Taylor
1946-1949: 17 Oaks Close, Leatherhead: with Ida Taylor and Thomas H Taylor
1952: she is at 38 Brookers Close, Ashtead
1956: 38 Brookers Close, Ashtead: with Wallace L Morrow
1958: 38 Brookers Close, Ashtead: with Wallace L Morrow and Keith G Bradley
1962: 47 Berry Meade, Ashtead: with Keith G Bradley and Wallace L Morrow

So far it has not been established that George lived or worked in Leatherhead between living in Deptford in the 1939 National Register and joining the Royal Navy. Presumably that requirement was satisfactorily met when the names were being considered for the Leatherhead memorials.

The Taylors his widow Ada and son Keith lived with at 17 Oaks Close, Leatherhead in 1945 were George's younger sister, Ida, born 8 August 1912 in Camberwell, and her husband Thomas H Taylor whom she married in Deptford in 1937. In 1939 the Taylors were at 4 St Donatts Road, Deptford with some of Ida's siblings. Did the Taylors join Ada and Keith in Leatherhead, or was it the other way around? No Electoral Registers were published in the years 1940-1944, making it difficult to find that out.

George Bradley is also remembered on these memorials:
Leatherhead Town Memorial
Leatherhead RBL Roll of Honour, Leatherhead Parish Church

the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
e.g. a photo of him, name on a memorial, and of any recollections of him

last updated 22 Jun 20