Duncan Bradbury, Lieutenant, 6th Sqdn. Royal Air Force
Died of wounds 15th August 1918 in France, aged 20
Duncan Bradbury was born on 28 April and baptised on 3 July 1898 at Park Street New Connexion Methodist Chapel, Macclesfield, the youngest son of Sarah and Frank Bradbury, an advertising agent of 41 Brook Street, Macclesfield. In 1901, two-year-old Duncan was living at Leigh Street with his parents and siblings Lucie (10), Harry (9), Bertram (8) and Stanley (6).
In the 1911 census Duncan was recorded as living at 13 Leigh Street with his parents and siblings, including another sister, Emma (9).
Duncan was educated at Mill Street School and, after leaving full-time school, was employed as a cashier’s clerk at Stancliffe’s Brewery in Sutton and attended Macclesfield Technical School from June 1913 until joining the Army in December 1916.
Duncan Bradbury joined the Army in December 1916 and was sent to Kinmel Park for training. He received a commission into the Air Force and trained as a Lance-Corporal with the 20th Training Battalion, service no. TRV/25377, in various locations including Hasting, Denham and Yatesbury. After qualifying as a pilot in April 1918 Duncan was advanced to the rank of Second-Lieutenant, and was drafted overseas to France on 31 May.
Lt. Bradbury was wounded on 14 August 1918 when flying on a reconnaissance mission and died of his wounds the next day at a casualty clearing station. His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 23 August 1918:
Mr and Mrs Bradbury, Leigh Street, Macclesfield, have this week received news from the Air Force that their son, Second-Lieut Duncan Bradbury, RAF, died of wounds sustained in France on August 15th. A letter states that the officer was out on patrol, when he was hit in the chest and arm. Although wounded, he turned the machine round and flew to a dressing station, where he descended.
Lieut Bradbury, who was 20 years of age, was educated at Mill Street School. He was an exceptionally smart youth, and while in the Army gained the admiration and respect of his fellow officers. Prior to enlistment he was employed in the cashier’s office at Messrs Stancliffe’s brewery, Sutton. Lieut. Bradbury joined up in December 1916 in a training reserve battalion at Kinmel Park and later received a commission in the Air Force. He obtained his wings last April and went to France at the end of May. Lieut. Bradbury had been a diligent and successful student at the Macclesfield Technical School and was officially connected with the Fence Sunday School.
Three of his brothers are serving, and one, Pte Bert Bradbury, was married in Macclesfield last week to Miss May Tebay. Second-Lieut Claud A [?], who accompanied the deceased officer as observer on his last flight, has written to the bereaved parents: “Your son, Duncan, passed away peacefully at a clearing station on August 15. I was flying with him, when we were attacked by seven German aeroplanes. Duncan was badly wounded, but managed to land the machine in safety. He was attended to at once, but the poor lad, after a plucky fight, succumbed the next day… Although badly wounded, he brought the machine down in safety, thus saving my life, so you can understand my feelings of gratitude towards him. He was always cheerful and will be greatly missed by all.
Lieut Duncan Bradbury is buried at Daours Communal Cemetery Extension, in grave ref. IV. B. 30. His father asked for the inscription “STILL DO WE WALK WITH HIM AND KEEP UNBROKEN THE BOND WHICH NATURE GAVE” to be added to the headstone. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Lieut Duncan Bradbury, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Lieut Duncan Bradbury is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church, Beech Lane Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Park Street Methodist Chapel and Fence Sunday School war memorials. The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21 September 1921 included one with the words “In loving memory to Uncle Duncan, from Marjory and Joan – Sergeant Duncan Bradbury.”
Brother of Harry, who served as Sapper 207056 with the Royal Engineers; Bertram, who served as Private 9113 with the Army Cyclist Corps; and Stanley, who served as Private 112607 with the Royal Field Artillery. All three survived the war.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Cheshire Non-Conformist & Roman Catholic Registers (Baptism, Find My Past): Macclesfield Park Street New Connexion Methodist Chapel
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
National School Admission Registers and Log-books (FindMyPast): Macclesfield Technical School
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards (Ancestry)
WWI Absent Voters Lists (FindMyPast): Macclesfield Parliamentary Division
Lives of the First World War website
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 23 August 1918
Macclesfield Courier: 24 September 1921 (list of floral tributes)