Lt Cdr Bradshaw trained at 20 ERFTS Gravesend in 1939 and his logbooks have survived and confirm that he flew N-5490 during his training.
Lt. Commander R. E. (Bobby)
Bradshaw DSC (2 bars) and three Mentions in Dispatches was one of the great
aces of the wartime Fleet Air Arm.
Starting as a Midshipman in 1939 he joined 826 Sqn and within three years was its CO - at 21 the youngest Lt. Commander the Royal Navy has ever known.
Greatly loved and admired by those who served with him and under him, he was something of a bane to his superiors. His last joust with them was on VJ Day
when a signal was sent to the ships of the Pacific Fleet that,
“following complaints from the Sydney authorities any pilot reported flying under Sydney Harbour Bridge will be court martialled.”
When he received the signal,
he was leading his squadron of Avengers in a Victory Parade so he turned
back and led his entire squadron
in formation under Sydney Harbour Bridge, whilst giving the ‘Victory’ sign to the locals - or something like it...
Fortunately for Bobby, by
the time he landed back on his carrier all planes were being ditched overboard
and all carriers were returning to Singapore
to pick up our POW’s. In the rush Bobby’s case was forgotten.
Actually, not all of the
Avengers were pushed overboard. One was saved by Bradshaw, who asked
permission of the Captain to launch it off the catapult.
This was achieved whilst the aircraft was at full throttle.
Lt Cdr 'Bobby' Bradshaw is conspicuous by his absence from this photo.
Sadly, both Bobby and his wife were killed in a car crash when their children, Harry and Sarah were three and five.
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