Captain Bradley’s actual name was John Bradley Beanland. Born at Heaton, Bradford in 1877 John was the son of James Bradley and Sarah Beanland. His father ran the family farm in Heaton.
On 19th December 1901, John, now just plain John Bradley qualified as a veterinary surgeon at the New Veterinary College, Edinburgh. He was in practice as a veterinary surgeon in Crowle by 1906 as that year he married Mabel Key, a local girl. Tradition has it that Mable was an orphan, brought up by Walter and Sarah Jane Key, the landlord of the Red Lion for a time. In 1911 John and Mabel lived at ‘Inglenook’ in the High Street.
John took a commission in the Army Veterinary Corps in 1915 and was drafted to France on 27th January 1916. The role of the Army Veterinary Corps in caring for the wounded or injured animals during the war was of huge importance to the war effort. Horses and mules were invaluable to the army, not in battle terms as the cavalry rarely fought mounted but in pulling wagons, carts, field guns, field ambulances etc that were required to keep the army supplied and mobile. A famous quote has it that soldiers were told the horses were more valuable than they were, as they were easily replaceable but horses weren’t!
Other than a bout of sciatica John served throughout the war relatively unscathed, although he did apparently have several narrow escapes from shells and bombs. Following the signing of the Armistice he was the veterinary surgeon with the 296th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, in the field in France awaiting the outcome of the Peace Talks, when he caught influenza. Admitted to Ruitz Hospital near Bethune on 12th February 1919, John Bradley died here of bronchial pneumonia on 17th February 1919. He was buried with full military honours in Houchin British Cemetery.
John is also commemorated on the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons War Memorial. His obituary is featured in the Veterinary Record, Volume 31 (1919) p 314.