" He who desires to obey the divine call must firmly resolve to follow it, and that as soon as possible. "
St. Alphonsus Liguori
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World War II - Catholic Padre Drowned...

This day we received some pictures and newpaper cutting from a great grand niece of Fr Thomas Bradley CSsR a Redemptorist who was in fact the first Catholic Chaplain to die in World War II, while serving the Royal Navy. He was also the oldest priest on active service. We are proud to share his story... find the story typed below and some more pictures, grateful received from Laura from Quebec ...


"Clapham Redemptorists have lost a much loved priest who is the first Roman Catholic priest to be lost while serving in the Royal Navy.

He was also the oldest priest on active service.

He was Father Thomas Bradley, who was born in Clapham in May 1886.

As a young man he became a Redemptorist, and for about six years after the last war was in Clapham. During the last war he became a Roman Catholic chaplain in the Army and served in France. It was not long, however, before he transferred to the Royal Navy, his favourite service.


That it was his favourite Service can only be expected, as he was a descendant of Capt. Hardy, pf H.M.S. Victory, with Nelson, on his mother’s side. He was with the Navy in many big engagements, and after the last war was on the vessel which took the Prince of Wales to Canada. When the present war broke out he offered his services to the Navy, and despite the fact that he was over age, and was immediately sent on the high seas. In the summer his boat was torpedoed, and no more was heard of him. His death has been presumed.

Solemn Mass was sung at St Mary’s Redemptorist Church, Clapham Common, on Friday morning.

There was a large congregation, who had gathered for this most impressive service.

The celebrant was Father Costello (Bournemouth), and in the sanctuary was Monseigneur Dewey (Senior Catholic Naval Chaplain). The Mass was sung by a choir of the priests of St Mary’s Monastery.

Admiral Boyd and Comdr. Slattery were also present at the service, as were Father Willie Bradley, C.SS.R.. brother of the dead priests and Miss Nora Bradley, his sister, who is engaged in Civil Defence, and who captain of the Girl Guides associated with St. Mary’s Church.

His mother was unable to be present, as she was living in Cornwall.



Father F.H. Prime, C.SS.R., who was rector at St. Mary’s until a few years ago, and who had known Father Bradley intimately, delivered the address. He said that Father Thomas Bradley was born in Clapham in May, 1886, and the people of the parish of St. Mary’s might well ne proud of him. He received the call to the special service of God in his early days. In his 20th year he took the vows of religion as a Redemptorist, and then in 1910 his dedication to God was sealed by the crowning seal of the priesthood.

At the outbreak of the last war he saw service in France as a military chaplain, and then, at his own request, he was transferred to the Senior Service, in which his work carried him to many parts of the world.

After the was, for 20 years, he laboured jealously and successfully as a Redemptorist missioner, devoting himself especially to the poor to those who were “down and out” both materially and spiritually. When the present war began, though far beyond the normal age, his offer to rejoin the Navy was accepted and once more he devoted himself ti the spiritual needs of the men, whom he loved to serve, until he received his second great call from God, the call home. His ship was sunk and he was drowned.


“If we consider the man himself, the character which actuated all his exterior life,” said Father Prime, ‘we can sum it up in one word. He was a priest with a keen sense of a priest’s duties and responsibilities. 

A priest’s life, he continued, was literally a double life, a life hidden and know to God alone, yet public and lived before me. The efficacy of the latter was entirely dependent on the former. He had made his choice - “The Lord is my portion for ever.” He never revoked it. There was the secret of his strength of character, his unflagging energy, his unfailing cheerfulness. Just because he lived this hidden life of union with God, of love of God, his heart could go our to all God’s world, to the England he served so generously, to the men of the Navy to whom he ministered so gladly.

His senior chaplain wrote:-

“He was a good priest, beloved by all, and loving the sea and seafaring men. His end seems just a one as he himself would have chosen.;

Father Bradley loved the sea, continued Father Prime. To him the sea was a vivid image of God. In its beauty, power, and immensity he would feel the presence and the glory of its Creator. In the end the sea received him into her bosom, even as his soul found its final rest in the bosom of God, that infinite ocean whose each wave was a boundless sea of joy.

The ceremony was concluded and the cortege of priests wended their way through the church to the strains of suitable organ music, the only music played throughout the service, a Solemn Mass for one who Clapham Roman Catholics loved and admired."

fr bradley habit

Wearing the Redemptorist Habit and Zimarra 

fr bradleys and dad

With their paternal father, Mr Bradley and the two Fathers Bradley - Thomas and William - both CSsR

mother  sister bradley

With their mother and their sister, Queenie or Reverend Sister Magdalene of Calvary SND

fr bradley prayer card

We will remember them!

Father Bradley - Requiescat in pace