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Lt. Henry Humphrey Brucker Bradburne, 3rd NZMR Contingent

Rare NZMR Casualty QSA -Officer, MiD

  • The extremely rare battle casualty Queen's South Africa Medal to Lt. Henry Bradburne, 3rd NZMR Contingent who died of wounds received in action on 19th August 1900 at Roodekopies. Bradburne was later Mentioned in Despatches for his bravery.


    Henry Humphrey Brucker Bradburne was born 30th April 1869 at Brickworth, Wiltshire, England. Son of a magistrate, Frederick Ashe Bradburne and his wife Mary Anna Trollope. Educated at St. Mark’s School, Clewer, Bradburne obtained a commission (2nd lieutenant) in the 3rd Hampshire (Militia) Regiment on 4th February 1888. He was promoted to lieutenant on 5th March 1890 before resigning his commission in November 1890. It is known he was still in England in 1898, so it assumed he came to New Zealand around 1899, settling at Rangiora. He obtained a commission with the 3rd (Rough Riders) Contingent, New Zealand Mounted Rifles and sailed for South Africa in February 1900.


    On 19th August 1900 Bradburne was leading a patrol of twenty men when they were ambushed at close range by concealed Boer forces. A letter written by L/Cpl Frank Ryan described the action that day: "More hard marching brought us up with De Wet's rear guard at Roode kopjes, near where Baden-Powell held Commando Nek. The morning of the 19th August a flying column, under General Mahon, captured several Boer waggons, ambulances, aud prisoners, and shelled what was apparently the tail end of the Boer column clearing out. The Boer laager was supposed to have been in the Roode kopjes, on our right, and this position had been shelled in a desultory fashion. Suddenly about 20 men of the 3rd New Zealanders, under Lieutenant Bradburne, were ordered to scout these apparently deserted hills. We advanced in open order, with an interval of ten yards between files, and I was told off to act as sergeant on the right flank, and when near the position, Lieutenant Bradburne called me over to him, and instructed me to take the right flank straight over a small wooded kopje in our path, which we would otherwise have skirted. I had just returned to my place, and told the men to open out, when, without warning, a sudden volley was poured into us from the kopje at a distance of 50yds on the right, the left wing, of course, being further away. Lieutenant Bradburne gave the orders "Files about," "Retire," and I repeated them. As the horses swung round it flashed through my mind that myself and the others on the left were doomed. The chances of the left flank were remote enough, and each man must have been covered with two or three rifles for the last 100 yards. At the first discharge Perham, who was in my lot, pitched out of his saddle close by me, stone dead. Corporal Richards's horse dropped, and he darted under a rock. Graham, Lusk, Heasley and Tomlinson's horses were all shot down under them. Heasley made a dash for it on foot, but went down immediately with three bullets in his legs. All thus took but a moment, and seeing Richards's wounded horse jump up and gallop away, I made a rush for him, when he knocked me against Lieutenant Bradburne. As I leaned over to catch him I noticed Lieutenant Bradburne pulling his horse about in a curious way and so glanced up at his face, and judged by his expression that he was hit, but neither of us spoke. Stopping the wounded horse was easy enough, but he absolutely refused to lead back to where the Boers were blazing away at a distance of about 300 yds, so all I could do was to turn both horses end on to the fire, while Graham and Lusk ran towards me. We were then the only near objects left to fire at and how they missed us is a marvel. Graham got on to the wounded horse and Lusk climbed on behind me, whereupon we bolted away amidst a shower of crackling, expanding bullets. About 300 yds further on we found Lieutenant Bradburne lying wounded beside his horse. We all dismounted and lifted him upon his horse, but he was too bad to help himself, so we were going to carry him to a Boer house near, but he pointed to where he was wounded in the stomach and bridle-hand, and said, "Leave me, Ryan, for God's sake; you only draw their fire by stopping; get the doctor," so I put a handkerchief on his head to keep the sun off and we cleared out. Dr. Godfrey went out immediately, regardless of the Boer bullets, which were still dropping about. Tomlinson, who was on the left, crawled down a donga and escaped, and later on the ambulance went for poor old Perham's body, and brought Heasley, who was wounded, and Richards, unhurt. The escapes of many of us were marvellous, for in addition to what I have above related, Richards, horse dropped dead as soon as he was ridden in. Wheeler's horse was shot through the back, and he himself got a bullet through his tunic. Sergeant Neave got a bullet in the heel of his boot and one through his horse's chest. Nurse had the oil-sheet on his saddle shot through, and very few escaped unscathed. It was altogether the most memorable day I have ever experienced. Lieutenant Bradburne died in a few hours, and together with Perham waa buried next morning. Poor old Perham was one of the handsomest and happiest fellows amongst us, and was absolutely dead game. He is the second gone from my group, Wiggins being the first. There was a mournful incident attached to Perham's death which made it seem all the more sad. The night before the fight, when making a night march, Perham jokingly divided up his things amongst the rest of the group in case he got shot."

    Bradburne had been shot through the stomach and bridle hand - the wounds proving fatal. He and Trooper Perham were interred at Bokfontein Farm. After the war they were moved and re-interred at Rietfontein Cemetery.


    Henry Bradburne was Mentioned in Despatches by Lord Roberts, one of twenty-four New Zealanders mentioned (L.G. 16/04/1901).


    Just six officers of the NZMR Contingents died in action during the war, and of these only two were recognised for their bravery. Lt. Neave of the 1st Contingent had transferred to an Imperial regiment when he was killed and Mentioned in Despatches making Bradburne the sole decorated, casualty officer with purely New Zealand Mounted Rifles service.


    The medal is chisel-engraved in the usual style for officers medals. There is an edge-knock at the 5 o'clock position, otherwise this medal is in fine condition.

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