Army

REME Reservists Lock Spanners To Battle For The Bradwell Bowl

The impressive silverware was designed to create a lasting legacy for a British soldier who died in an IRA bombing in 1996

A competition designed to honour the memory of a British soldier who was the victim of an IRA bombing in 1996 is keeping his memory alive while simultaneously showcasing the outstanding talent of Army engineers.

On October 7 1996, inside Thiepval Barracks in Northern Ireland, a double car bomb attack was carried out by the Provisional IRA.

There were 31 people who were injured in the blasts. Then four days later on October 11 Warrant Officer James Bradwell succumbed to his injuries sustained from both bombs.

He was in the car park where the first bomb exploded and then a short time later was further injured by the second bomb which went off near the medical centre where he was being treated.

Scene at the British Army's headquarters at Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn following the detonation of two car bombs by the Irish Republican Army on 7 October 1996 IWM (HU 98371)
Credit: IWM (HU 98371)

WO Bradwell was on his first tour of duty in Northern Ireland with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) but had served in the British Army for 19 years, winning the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal for Exemplary Service.

Scene at the British Army's headquarters at Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn following the detonation of two car bombs by the Irish Republican Army on 7 October 1996 IWM (HU 98372)
Credit: IWM (HU 98372)

WO Bradwell left behind his widow Pamela and their three children. They wanted to create a lasting legacy to his memory so made the Bradwell Bowl, an impressive piece of silverware that Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers units compete for annually. WO Bradwell's friend and colleague Captain Pete Riddel said:

"Pamela wanted to create a lasting legacy to Jim's memory."

Sadly the Bradwell Bowl was misplaced for a number of years, but was found and returned to Northern Ireland, into the safe hands of the Reservists of 157 Company 102 Battalion REME, who restarted the competition last year and have battled it out again at the Transport Training Services site near Aldergrove. Maj Mark Brotherston Officer Commanding 157 Company said:

"REME Reservists have travelled from across the UK, some driving through the night to get here."

LISTEN to Forces Radio BFBS Northern Ireland broadcaster Cherry Casey's report below

102 Battalion REME fielded teams from 153, 124, 147 and of course 157, travelling from across the UK to compete, joined for the first time by young apprentices from Transport Training Services.

They spent the day battling over six different mechanical challenges, including recovery, fabrication, computer-assisted design and Man Cat. Each of which tested their knowledge, physical ability, teamwork and leadership skills. Maj Mark Brotherston OC 157 said:

"We're very excited to have young mechanic apprentices taking part this year, and hope this will spark an interest in a career with the REME."

This year's winners, by a mere metal shaving, were Sgt Ferguson's team from 157 Company, meaning the Bradwell Bowl will be retained in Northern Ireland for another year.

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