Who Do You Think You Are?

Did Frederick Bradshaw play in an army band?

- Ann Bradshaw Phil Tomaselli

QIn this photograph my husband’s great grandfathe­r, Frederick Bradshaw (born 1868 in She eld), is on the front row, fourth from the left. Can you help narrow down the year that the photograph was taken and spot any clues regarding the band that he was playing in?

A newspaper article suggests that Frederick was an army musician, but we can find no evidence of this.

ADespite the soldierly appearance, I doubt that this is a military band. The whole effect of the uniform appears military – similar uniforms were worn by commission­aires, Post Office staff and bellboys in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – but with sufficient small difference­s to make them distinct. The range of instrument­s suggests a dance band, or a small dance orchestra. I’d suggest that the photo was taken in the late 1890s.

I, too, can find no record of military service for Frederick. Service records between 1890 and 1913 should be available on Findmypast ( findmypast.co.uk). However, many men re-enlisted in the First World War, and their records were amalgamate­d and destroyed in a fire at a War Office repository in London in 1940. There are regimental musters up to 1898 at The National Archives in Kew, but they haven’t been digitised. He may also have served in the local Volunteers; central musters were burned in 1940 too, although copies may exist locally. Sheffield had volunteer infantry, engineer and artillery units.

A search through the local titles at the British Newspaper Archive ( britishnew­spaperarch­ive.co.uk) shows a considerab­le number of bands in Sheffield at the time, including works and organisati­on bands such as the City Police. Further research in online newspapers may produce results.


The headwear resembles a military cap from the late 1890s, although it’s not tall enough and the braid on the peak wouldn’t be worn by private soldiers.


In a military group of this size, I’d expect to see rank (for example, corporals’ stripes) or appointmen­t (such as trumpeter) badges on some sleeves, as well as some service and good-conduct chevrons. However, all of them are bare.


The Austrian knots above the cuff look military, but the wearing of waistcoats and the lack of tunic buttons show that they’re not.


Given the ages, I’d expect some of the musicians to wear medals on the left breast if they were in the military, if only longservic­e or campaign awards.


The cap badge resembles a belt buckle that has been turned on its side. I can find no regimental equivalent.


The bandmaster is pretending to be an officer, ffi wearing a uniform that includes large chevrons on his cuffs and twisted braid on his shoulders. However, there is not enough lace on his tunic.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom