The English candidate for beatification, John Randal Bradburne, son of an Anglican clergyman and cousin of the playwright Terence Rattigan, was born on June 14, 1921, in Skirwith, Cumbria, and educated at Gresham's School in Norfolk between 1934 and 1939. In 1940, he joined the 9th Gurkha Rifles of the Indian Army and faced the Japanese invasion of Malaya. After the fall of Singapore, he escaped, spent a month in the jungle and managed to sail to Sumatra, whence he was rescued by the Royal Navy and returned to India. Apparently he was awarded the MC for his heroic escape, though he said he never received it. He ended the war in Burma with Orde Wingate's Chindits, small special forces operating behind enemy lines.
After the war he took on odd jobs. He worked in forestry and did some schoolmastering, but to use the colloquial expression he was bitten by the religious bug. In 1947 he was received into the Catholic Church by the Benedictines at Buckfast Abbey and tried without success to become a monk. Then he had a love affair which nearly led to marriage, but nothing lasted with John. During the Holy Year of 1950 someone gave him a small sum of money to make a pilgrimage to Rome. Once there, he decided to continue to Jerusalem. He set off, apparently with £5 in his pocket, and somehow got as far as Cyprus. There he approached an official for a loan to take him on to Haifa in Israel (Cyprus was then still a British colony). "Do you have a guarantor?" he was asked. "Why don't you cable the British consul in Tripoli, who is my brother?" John replied. Philip Bradburne bailed him out.
He arrived in Haifa and hitch-hiked to Jerusalem, hoping to shelter with the Benedictines, who had a monastery on Mount Zion. So he asked the first woman he met the way to Zion. She directed him to the house of the Fathers of Zion, my then religious order. The superior, Father Pierre de Condé, received him cordially. John at once felt convinced that his arrival at the house of the Zion Fathers was a sign of divine vocation and expressed his wish to join the congregation. He was quickly shipped to Louvain, where the noviciate was rather short of fresh blood.
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