William Claude Bradford (1885–1926)
William Claude Bradford served as assistant adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard and an officer of the 142nd Field Artillery in World War I. His service in the pre-war period was recognized with promotions and command assignments, and he played an active role in mobilizing the Arkansas National Guard for both the Mexican Border Campaign in the absence of the adjutant general and for service in France during World War I.
Claude Bradford was born on June 3, 1885, in Lonoke County to Judge Henry Taylor Bradford and Martha Jane Wilson Bradford. The family had come to Prairie (later Lonoke) County about 1854 from Georgia. He attended Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University) from 1901 to 1902 and married Elizabeth Gresham, the daughter of William Wadley Gresham and Eudosia Speakes Gresham of Arkadelphia (Clark County), on June 29, 1903. They had three children: William Taylor Bradford, Martha Speakes Bradford (later the wife of Frank Chowning), and Kathryn Biscoe Bradford (later the wife of General John Howe).
Bradford joined the Arkansas National Guard in 1903, serving as a private for one enlistment. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in February 1909 in Company K at Lonoke (Lonoke County) when the unit was formed after a reorganization of the state guard. On September 14, 1909, he was elected captain in Company K. In private life, he was in the real estate and insurance business in Lonoke. In February 1913, he was promoted to major and appointed assistant adjutant general. Assigned to the Second Arkansas Infantry in July 1916, he oversaw the mobilization of, and commanded, the First Battalion near Deming, New Mexico, as part of support troops for General John J. Pershing’s expedition searching for Pancho Villa. The Arkansas troops were not engaged in Mexico and returned to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in March 1917. The unit was again federalized on August 5, 1917, as the 142nd Field Artillery, Thirty-ninth Division. It deployed to France around August 31, 1918, from Camp Mills, New York. The unit did not see active combat, arriving in the last months of the war. Bradford remained in France with the 142nd as it trained and tested with new equipment, then was detached from the 142nd as it returned to the U.S. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel and assigned as base commander of Camp Guthrie (France), a demobilization camp for U.S. troops preparing to return home.
Bradford died of an apparent heart attack on February 5, 1926, during a trip with his son to Biloxi, Mississippi, and is buried in Lonoke.
For additional information:
“Bradford Named to Succeed Smith.” Lonoke Democrat. July 20, 1916, p. 1.
“Company K Making Good.” Lonoke Democrat. Thursday July 27, 1911, p. 1.
Diggs, Jack F. The 142d Field Artillery, 1889–1976: A History Which Includes: 2d Arkansas Infantry, 936th Field Artillery Battalion, 937th Field Artillery Battalion. Fayetteville, AR: 1976.
Farmers Branch, Texas
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