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Major Antony Brady
Late Irish Guards
by Lieutenant Colonel D M Hannah MBE
formerly Irish Guards

Antony Brady, ‘Tony’ to his family and many friends, died peacefully at home in the Cotswolds on 9th September 2014. Born in 1923, Tony was educated by the Jesuits at Stonyhurst before enlisting as a Guardsman. According to his contemporary, Lt Col William Harvey-Kelly:

Tony Brady was due to go for a commission in 1944 but put it off as he wanted to take part in the invasion of Normandy, which he did as a LCpl in the 3rd Battalion snipers where he was a confidante of Col J O E Vandaleur. Having taken part in the fighting in Normandy, Belgium and Holland (Op MARKET GARDEN), he left at the end of 1944 to be commissioned into the Royal Irish Fusiliers, so he had a very profound view of all the operations of the 3rd Battalion Irish Guards in 1944.

Tony retired from the Army in 1978 after many years of loyal service, including four busy years with BRIXMIS from 1967 to 1971, at the height of the Cold War. He was a member of the Quis and served as the Regimental Archivist for many years. As well as recording devotedly the history of the 3rd Battalion, he often represented the Regiment at events in France and Holland. He visited and laid wreaths at Mick graves every year, building close and important links with local families and authorities, especially at Cagny and St Charles de Percy in Normandy, where along with many members of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, Tony received his baptism of fire in the bitter battles to breakout from the D-Day beachhead. Recalling this period, Tony was a fount of information, with a degree of detail reflecting the extent to which these days were formative and remained with him. However, Tony was always inclined to focus on lighter moments. The book The Guards against the Hohenstaufen (La Garde contre la Hohenstaufen) by the French authors Georges Bernage and Michel Leteinturier, contains a typical anecdote of the fighting around St Charles de Percy:

‘While Lt Col Vandaleur was establishing his command post to the west of the Château, a small patrol of HQ Company snipers commanded by Tony Brady set off in pursuit of German snipers who were operating in the park of the Château. As recounted by Tony: “an enemy sniper had inflicted a number of casualties on us during the previous day, but he had been killed; I set off on this beautiful summer day and entered the Château, wondering who might live in this delightful building; to my surprise, I discovered, laid out on a table, a bowl of fresh strawberries with a small metal jug of cream next to it. For a moment I considered whether it might be booby-trapped but then sat down and helped myself to the lot, eating it as if at an English summer picnic or a school cricket match; clearly the Château’s previous occupants, including the enemy snipers, had departed in haste ... so I enjoyed the strawberries and cream without any qualms!”’

Mick contemporaries recall that Tony earned an enviable reputation as a tough, resourceful, daring and highly intelligent infantryman whose rank and role as a LCpl sniper belied the extent to which his Commanding Officer, Col J O E Vandaleur, relied upon him as a key advisor; as one senior officer remarked, ‘he was known as someone who read the battle facing the Micks almost better than anyone’.

Tony carried this expertise with him throughout his long commissioned service with the Royal Irish Fusiliers and with BRIXMIS. I am indebted to one of Tony’s BRIXMIS colleagues, Col Roy Giles, for the following extract taken from the BRIXMIS website:

As the BRIXMIS Adjutant, it was Tony who briefed me on the inner workings of the Mission, but also he introduced me to Potsdam Local touring before handing me over to full-time tourers for more distant adventures. He was able to do this in February 1968 because he was still (enthusiastically!) holding the pass of the departed Nigel Broomfield, the ‘Touring Captain’, who I was nominally replacing. Tony was of course at heart and by profession a proper infantryman, and he really loved getting stuck in, especially after several years of putting up with all the tall stories that tourers liked to tell! In his Adjutantal role he of course vetted our claims and paid out our allowances, but he was much more than an administrator. He was our ‘Father Confessor’ to whom we could turn in times of trouble. He was particularly sympathetic and helpful to our wives and families when things went a bit haywire. From January to April 1970 I was really glad to effectively give him another spell ‘off the leash’ when we swopped jobs for three months. Let me finish with a story that Simon told about Tony and ‘a certain Senior Officer’ (and those in BRIXMIS in the late 1960s can guess who that was ...!). Being given a roasting by this very fierce red-tabbed gentleman, Tony recalled: ‘I couldn’t understand what he was saying to me until I got him to take his teeth out of my arm!’

Tony was such an easy chap to get on with. His long military service and amenable personality had made him an expert observer of the human condition, and you did well to heed his advice. He was a great companion and an amusing raconteur, with many stories that he enjoyed telling, often against himself. He was someone who always made time for you. We in Brixmis were indeed fortunate to have Tony as our lynchpin.

In retirement, Tony did much to ensure that the sacrifices of those with whom he served in 1944 were recorded, notably in the archives in RHQ, and commemorated appropriately, especially at Cagny and St Charles de Percy where he was always warmly welcomed by many of the locals who became close friends over the years. The way Tony was feted speaks volumes about how today’s inhabitants of Normandy view their liberators of 70 years ago and has made a modest but important contribution to Anglo-French relations as a result.

With enthusiastic participation in many staff rides and battlefield tours, Tony also made a conscious and significant contribution to the process of ‘passing the baton’ of knowledge and understanding about the achievements of those who fought in North West Europe at the end of the last war. Even as recently as 2009, Tony accompanied an Oxford UOTC trip to Normandy. Many of the officer cadets present have subsequently been commissioned and Tony was credited with bringing light-hearted anecdotes to the study (of operations) as well as deeply moving accounts of life on the front line. Dr Rob Johnson, the accompanying Oxford Don, noted Tony’s explanation of the difficulties of street fighting, and the threat posed by snipers, nebelwerfer mortars (‘Moaning Minnies’) and German armour. Tony explained that even after the British advance had passed on to the River Odon to the south, German units continued to infiltrate, snipe at and bombard Cheux: the Welsh Guards lost three commanding officers in as many days and there was a constant stream of ambulances and combat supply vehicles passing through the ruins.

Invaluable as Tony’s contributions were to the studies of the Normandy campaign, it was the message of remembrance and reconciliation that Tony personified that impressed the officer cadets most of all. Many described the small drumhead service held at the small and beautifully maintained Commonwealth War Grave Commission Cemetery at which Tony spoke, as being the memorable high point of the week.

At home in Shipton-under-Wychwood and for the last few years in Cheltenham, close to his son Guy, Tony was a familiar and popular local figure and with his wife Elizabeth (Mickey), always providing a warm welcome to many visiting family and friends from across the world.  Tony’s funeral, a two-hour Requiem Mass, was well attended by family and many friends and former military colleagues including from the Micks, from the Royal Irish Fusiliers and other Irish regiments. Tony was buried in Burford cemetery. As Col Roy Giles reported on the BRIXMIS website:

Everything that was said, formally during the service and informally afterwards at the reception, highlighted Tony’s humane and friendly nature; … the priest revealed that when the staff at the local Post Office were told Tony had died, many burst into tears. What an extraordinary sign of the deep affection that Tony Brady could inspire, across the board, amongst civil and military alike.

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