Death Plaque, George William Bathurst Bradford, 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps, the 11th Victory of German Fighter ace Erwin Bohme shot down on 4th February 1917.
The Plaque has been proudly polished over the years by the family in remembrance.
Born in 1895 in Kimberley, South Africa, he joined the 1st South African Infantry as 3901 Private G.W.B. Bradford 1st S.A.I.
He was then commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps in the London Gazette of 16th December 1916, effective as of 1st December 1916.
At this time the Squadron were ready to deploy to the Front during December 1916, equipped with BE2c’s for army co-operation duties, they distinguished themselves providing excellent photographic, artillery co-operation and contact patrol work, earning the special recognition of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, for their work on the Ancre Salient in January 1917.
Having only been flying for about 2 months, on 4th February 1917, as Observer to Sergeant Pilot Frederick James Shaw, they took off in Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2e serial number 7105 from 15 Squadrons base, on an Artillery Observation Patrol in Hebuterne-Puisieux Sector, South of Pas-de-Calais.
On this day Oberleutnant Erwin Bohme, who at this point had 9 victories under his belt of the infamous Jasta 2 was in the skies, the last October, he had caused the accidental death of Oswald Boelcke, one of Germany’s finest aces who taught Erwin Bohme and Manfred von Richtofen.
Erwin Bohme had actually been on leave in the Bavarian Alps, but upon hearing of the casualties to the Jasta, cut his leave short to return to duty.
On this day at 1505 Erwin Bohme shot down English Ace William Curphey MC in his DH2, he survived, and even managed to shoot Bohme in the left arm, Curphey had shortly before shot down and killed Leutnant Franz von Scheele and claimed another shot down.
Only 25 minutes later, 2nd Lieut Bradford and Sergt Shaw passed by in their BE2e, when they were spotted and shot down by Erwin Bohme becoming his 11th Victory, they were seen to land safely, but were later found dead, likely severely wounded from a burst from Bohme’s guns.
2nd Lieut Bradford was later avenged, on 29th November 1917, upon attacking a FK8 on a photo reconnaissance mission, Capt Patten & Lieut Leycester managed to shoot down Bohme in flames, his charred body was later recovered and buried by the British with full honours, at this point he had scored 24 aerial victories.