Capt Bernard Wallace-Bradley
Always known simply as 'Brad'. When I joined the "Kenilworth Castle" at Middlesbrough in 1953 Brad was one of the cadets. (The others were Mick Peters, Ginger Atkinson. The senior cadet whose name I cannot recall left in London having failed his eyesight for 2nd mates and was replaced by Pat Woods.)
Brad joined the Company 1952, South African he had done his pre-sea training at the General Botha, Gordon's Bay. Very popular I remember Brad patching his dungarees, (jeans today!) until they were mostly patch and very little dungaree. We left the "Kenilworth" after two voyages and went together to the "Tantallon Castle" so in all Brad and I must have been together for two years or more.
The "Kenilworth" was a happy ship, something only really understood by sailors. For some unknown reason ship's get characters of their own, some are happy and others, well not! The master was Captain A.C.M. Black O.B.E., chief mate John D. Cutcliffe. By our second voyage Brad and I were firm friends, at Marseilles Brad said "Og, you speak French, how about a pub crawl?" We set off ashore, soon found ourselves in the less touristy area of docklands Marseilles (all gone now of course) soon at the door of our first bar. It had been agreed that we would have one drink in each bar but never the same drink! By about the third bar Brad said, "When I was last here I had a peppermint drink."
"Ah" said the French expert "you mean Pernod." Well at one stage we found ourselves at a wedding reception (not sure but I think it was an Arab one but nevertheless we were made very welcome), I seem to recall a backyard film show somewhere and finally we entered a bar full of sailors from the American umteenth fleet. Marching (I thought confidently but I now have my doubts on that) to the bar I asked the attractive barmaid for two bottles of Martini. Somewhere along the line 'one drink' had become 'one bottle' which had then multiplied to one bottle each.
"Sorry" she replied, "we only sell it by the glass."
"How many to a bottle?" I asked.
"24 martinis please."
And we worry about the youth of today!!!!
Brad's father worked for the South African Railways in Durban, Brad took us to his home at Escombe when we were at Durban and I recall we ate heaps of cookies his mother had baked.
We went our separate ways after leaving the "Tantallon", the next time I saw Brad was when he was Junior Fourth on the "Carnarvon" (Some of you may think I always misspell her name. This was the spelling the Company gave the ship, it was said that Sir Vernon Thompson, the chairman who was 'very careful with money' was too mean to pay for the paint for the missing 'e'! Similarly you will notice "Capetown" is also miss-spelt) Never one to follow the herd Bradley left the Company and we lost touch, I did hear of him on a yacht in the Bahamas but that was some years later.
We next met up when I was pilot in Cape Town, Brad called at my home in Bergvliet to give me his copy of "The Union-Castle Chronicle", he was never like me sentimental for the past but always looking to the future.
Home was at Escombe, Natal. (Escombe now a suburb of Durban but then a very pleasant small town on what was always referred to as 'the Old Main Road' meaning the road out to Pietermaritzburg of old colonial style bungalows.) Father ex RN (WW1) Foreman fitter SAR&H
Durban Boys High
General Botha 1951-52
Kenilworth Castle 1953
Tantallon Castle 1954
Carnarvon Castle 4th
Athlone Castle 4th
Durban Castle 4th a
Riebeeck Castle 3rd
Passed for Mates – joined Furness Withy
3rd Mate of an ore carrier
2nd Mate Lancastrian Prince (Mediterranean)
Then to 3 ships chartered to Shaw Savill - Bardic, Mystic, Medic.
During these years Brad spent many weekends sailing with a friend, they had met whilst skiing. Their boat was a converted ex Navy cutter (whaler, an open 12 oared boat) They sailed the route of the Dulsey Bella from Erskin Chandlers ‘The Riddle of to the Sands’
Brad then skippered a 56ft yacht ‘Sky Wave’ owned by an American, he took it from Southampton to the Bahamas where it was chartered out with Brad as skipper and his sister Diana as cook/stewardess. They sailed from the Bahamas and New England, Martha’s Vineyard and so forth.
Brad then spent three months touring the USA by Grey Hound Coach on a 90 day ticket he covered 12000 miles! Nights were spent in cheap ‘doss houses’ for about 1$ 50 a night.
Deciding to return to South Africa to see his family, Brad worked his passage back to South Africa delivering a trawler Built in Glasgow.
Left, Wallace Bradley, front with fag, Ginger Atkinson, at the back Mick Peters and with his head back the senior cadet John Crowley. Robin Hoods Bay, September 1953
"Kenilworth Castle" 1953.
Back left OGK, (Og), Brad, Mike Peters. Sitting Pat Woods, sitting on deck Ginger Atkinson.
Brad doing what he likes best, messing about with boats. The 'Astra' being rebuilt 1995.
Two old friends, Brad & Og in the Lord Nelson (a pub of course!) Simon's Town
His next employment was as mate of the "Reef", one of African Coasters (known to all on the coast as 'African Chaos') exhausted old steamers. On one voyage off Cape St. Blaize in a storm the ship, unable to head into the wind was being blown into a lea bay. To get her out into open water Brad got the engineer on watch to build up a good head of steam then using the lot pushed the ship’s head thro wind to work its way out. The old ship's boilers were in such a state that the steam driven generator was unable to power radar.
Late ‘60’s Brad then joined yacht ‘Aldeberan’ in Durban whose American owner had sailed single handed from being Built out east. Off Luderitz the batteries ran flat, the 3rd crewman, a young American who had also joined in Durban rowed dingy into the port with battery, had it charged and rowed himself out again. They made Surinam from where Brad flew back to SA.
Joined Ian Rennies company Rennies Angola Line, sailed as mate then Master on the "Yolanda".
1968 Brad now took time off to visit and explore South Africa’s small disused harbours such as Port Alfred. Typical of Brad, when I asked him had he kept a of this he laughed ‘goodheavens no’!
1968? Marriage to Vera, time to settle down.
Brad then sailed with Safmarine for the first time as 2nd mate of a tanker.
Took flying lessons in Durban, ran out of money.
2nd mate of "RSA", South Africa's Antarctic supply ship for two seasons, Capt’s Ken McNish and Funk (This was when Brad and I met up again, I was then a Table bay Harbour pilot.
Brad then on Kuswag’s (1 to 6, pollution boats managed by Safmarine) hopping to get Mates job on new "Agulhas", the replacement for the old "RSA". (During time of Ven Pet, Ven Oil collision)
Back to Safmarine
"SA Hexrivier" Mate
"SA Nederberg" Mate
Container ships Mate
"City of Port Louis" last command (went to Sea of Asof in the Black Sea)
Died 29 December 2020