Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is sponsoring a monthly 16-page supplement on WW1, called Inside the First World War, which is free with the Sunday Telegraph and is released on the first Sunday of each month.
Part 9 of 12 is the most recent in the series and the theme this month was the entry of the US into the war. The article Lord Ashcroft wrote for inclusion in this instalment was the story of Lt-Cdr George Bradford, who stormed the shores of Zeebrugge in a heroic act of self-sacrifice.
George Nicholson Bradford was born in Witton Park, Darlington, Co Durham, on April 23, 1887.
In 1908, while serving in the Royal Navy as a first lieutenant, he led the efforts to save crewmen trapped on board a stricken fishing boat following a collision between a destroyer and a trawler. He successfully rescued three men from the boat but was then told there was another young man on the sinking trawler. Without hesitation, Bradford “sprang on board, rushed to the forepeak and, as the trawler gave a lurch, appeared with the unconscious boy in his arms”.
On the night of April 22, 1918, his 31st birthday, and having served throughout the war, Bradford was on board Iris II – one of the two Mersey ferries. The extent of his bravery is revealed in the citation for his VC, which was eventually announced on March 17, 1919.
“Lt-Cdr Bradford’s action was one of absolute self-sacrifice. Without a moment’s hesitation he went to certain death, realising that in such action lay the only possible chance of securing Iris II and enabling her storming parties to land.”
See all instalments of the Sunday Telegraph supplement, Inside the First World War here.
Lord Ashcroft’s VC collection is on display at the Imperial War Museum and is currently 183-strong. As well as his VC collection, Lord Ashcroft has a major Special Forces’ medals’ collection and a substantial collection of decorations awarded for gallantry in the air. In 2010, he also started collecting George Crosses (GCs) for the first time and currently owns 11 awards.
Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is a Tory peer, businessman, philanthropist and author. He is a military historian who had written four books on bravery over the past eight years. He has also lectured extensively on courage and his various medal collections.
All the articles Lord Ashcroft is writing for the supplements are based on expanded excerpts from his four books on gallantry: Victoria Cross Heroes, Special Forces Heroes, George Cross Heroes and Heroes of the Skies. Furthermore, the vast majority of the write-ups are based on gallantry medals owned by him.
Follow him on Twitter: @LordAshcroft