Comment: Popular villager scarred by Kingmills tragedy

Oswald Bradley
Oswald Bradley

Oswald Bradley was a cheery, happy-go-lucky individual who was one of the model village’s most popular residents.

He and I were educated together at Bessbrook public elementary school in the 1950s and his family are part of the highly respected Bradley connection in the area. Like myself, Oswald was a Bessbrook man through and through and, as a painter and decorator, he did up many houses in the village, wisecracking as he meticulously put paint and wallpaper in place.

With his late wife Violet, he also ran the local chippie on Main Street, and by reputation, Oswald’s fish suppers were worth having.

Growing up, Oswald and brother Derek were useful footballers, with a toughness on the field that made milder players wince.

But it was at bowls that he excelled as a sportsman, becoming president and treasurer of Bessbrook outdoor bowling club, a club with a strong cross-community ethos maintaining the village’s Quaker inheritance.

Oswald was not in the loyal orders, but was a staunch unionist and, while passionate at times, he was inherently a man of decent values and sense of neighbourliness across the village’s religious divide.

However, like myself as a proud Bessbrook man, Oswald was scarred by the 1976 Kingsmill massacre. His cousin John McConville died, just 18, and Oswald worked closely with other families of victims to get justice.

We will never know what was going through Oswald Bradley’s mind when entering Bessbrook Pond.

But we do know he paid a heavy price.