Ron Bromley was born on a farm in Hougham, near Dover, where his family had lived since 1760, the second in a family of five, three boys and two girls, of whom only Ella now survives.
He went to the village school and then to Dover County School. He was taken on as a pupil by the Surveyor of Canterbury and got on so well that he was taken on as an employee there. That was 1939 though and the war intervened.
Ron was called up and went into training around Kent learning sound ranging and survey before being selected for officer training at Larkhill. After passing out, he was posted all over England and Scotland training for sound location of artillery and amphibious landing, until D-day and a landing in Normandy, driving his waterproofed Jeep onto Juno beach. After the confusion of the first days, his troop started setting up their sound ranging equipment, pinpointing the enemy guns, following the action through France and Belgium into Holland. He was awarded the Military Cross while he was in Holland.
After VE-day, he crossed into Germany and was engaged in placing the boundaries between the sectors, helping to keep order and the horrible job of trying to sort people into their correct sectors. These times were not all bad. He was able to get out horse-riding, and many of his oft-told stories came from his wartime experiences.
After the war Ron went back into Local Government, working his way up through the ranks by taking opportunities as they came, including spells back at Canterbury, at Willesden and at Dover. In 1952 he secured a Chief Assistant's post at Esher and settled down a little. He married Lena when he took this job, and soon after his first son Nigel appeared. Ever ambitious though, he took the Deputy's job at Leamington Spa, where his second son Clive was born. In 1961 he moved again to take the Chief's job as Engineer and Surveyor to Walton and Weybridge council and bought a house of his own in Hersham, where he stayed for 53 years. He retired from what was by then Elmbridge council in 1979 and enjoyed 35 years of retirement.
He was always dedicated to sport, playing cricket for the village team in boyhood, and rugby later, and continued to play cricket until quite late in life, then umpiring and helping to run the Walton Cricket Club.
For most of his time in Walton he was a member of the Rotary club, and president in 1975. He was always there, in the charity work that they do as well as the social side. In his retirement he also worked for Walton Charities and volunteered for local charities particularly Care in Walton and Hersham and Painshill Park, where he showed generations of schoolchildren how the water wheel worked.
In a long and mostly happy life, his biggest tragedy was the loss of his wife Lena suddenly in 1991. He was settled in for an active retirement, they went on many holidays abroad and led a full social life. He soldiered on, but he felt that loss through his last two decades.
Ron lived in his own house until about 18 months ago, when he moved into Whiteley House, where for his last days he was able to watch cricket and rugby without having to worry about anything.
Major Ronald Arthur Bromley M.C who has died age 96 took part in the D-Day landings at Juno beach with the Canadian Army and was awarded the Military Cross for action in Holland during November 1944.
On 2 November 1944 commanding a Survey Regiment Troop he was ordered to deploy his Troop as quickly as possible to locate guns which were shelling our troops north of Roosendaal, Holland. Despite enemy shelling, cratered and mined roads, he managed by his own determination, personal disregard of danger and example, to have his troop deployed by that evening. This job was done in far less time than is normally required and had great effect in silencing the enemy guns. Again on the 6 November, he was ordered to deploy his troop in Zevenborgen to stop shelling taking place in that area. On going forward to reconnoitre he found the area still covered with enemy mines. It was essential that his troop should be in action as soon as possible. He therefore led all his microphone parties out to their positions, personally checking the ground as he went. After this he led the two advanced parties through the various minefields and placed them near to the banks of the River Maas. Infantry fighting was still going on in this area and at one point he found himself in front of the infantry. After some time, but in the dark he was able to find suitable positions for the parties. Again, by his determination and disregard of personal risks he was able to ensure the best counter battery measures were available to stop casualties to our troops.
Ronald Arthur Bromley was born into a farming family, near Dover, on 13 June 1918 and educated at the Dover County School. After matriculation, he was taken on as a pupil by the Surveyor of Canterbury City Council. On the outbreak of war in 1939 he was called up and went into training around Kent learning sound ranging and survey before being selected for officer training at Larkhill. When commissioned he joined, as second adjutant, the 1st Sound Ranging Battery Dover.
The purpose of the Battery in Dover was to locate the static guns fired in the Pas de Calais by triangulation onto the Calais Town Hall, Napoleon's column and the Cap Nez lighthouse. Ironically 4 years later, in August 1944, when Calais was being assaulted, 9th Survey and Major Bromley were involved with excellent Flash Spotting and Sound Ranging. The German Garrison CRA later admitted that they refrained from employing counter battery as the power of the Allied guns was so intense that they didn't risk further retaliation.
In 1941 he was posted to the 9th Survey Regiment. Here he was sent all over England and Scotland training for sound location of artillery and amphibious landing in preparation for D-Day. After the confusion of the first days of landing in Normandy his troop started setting up the sound ranging equipment pinpointing the enemy guns and followed action through France, Belgium and on into Holland. After VE day he crossed into Germany and became responsible for placing the boundaries between the sectors, helping to keep order and the difficult job of trying to sort people into their correct sectors.
After demob Ronald Bromley returned to Local Government, retiring in 1979 as the Engineer and Surveyor of Elmbridge Council. He was a keen cricketer and rugby player, a dedicated member of Rotary and worked closely with many local charities. Having being instrumental in the restoration of Painshill Park, a Capability Brown landscaped garden near Cobham, he showed generations of schoolchildren how the water wheel worked.
Ronald Bromley married Lena Bartlett in 1953 who died in 1991. He is survived by two sons.
©2003 Ron Bromley
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