John Desmond ‘Slapsie’ Brayley, Baron Brayley of the City of Cardiff, was born in Pontypridd, Glamorgan, on 29 January 1917, and was educated at the local grammar school. A keen amateur boxer, he attested for the Royal Artillery in 1934, and having been advanced Sergeant in the Welsh Regiment, was commissioned Second Lieutenant on 25 April 1941. Following his commissioning, he completed his parachute training on the 12th Army Parachutists Course at Ringway on 5 June 1942, and joined the 2 Battalion, Parachute Regiment, Army Air Corps, in the autumn of 1942. He served with the Battalion in North Africa, and for his gallantry during the operations at Depienne and Oudna was awarded the Military Cross. Appointed temporary Captain on 4 May 1943, Brayley went on to serve with Colonel Frost’s 2 Para in Sicily, and was discharged with the honorary rank of Captain on 30 September 1945.
Following the War, Brayley embarked upon a successful career in business, and in 1962 became chairman of the Canning Town Glassworks Group. Introduced to the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, in the late 1960s, he was a generous donor to the Labour Party, and subsequently offered Wilson the use of his Rolls Royce, chauffeur, and St. James’s penthouse after he had lost the 1970 General Election and had had to vacate Downing Street. Knighted in Wilson’s subsequent resignation Honours’ List, he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London in the same year. He was also appointed Honorary Colonel Commandant of the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1970, and held various charitable positions.
In June 1973 Brayley was created a Baron of the United Kingdom, and following Labour’s return to office in March 1974 was appointed to the Government as Under Secretary of State (Army) at the Ministry of Defence. His tenure was short-lived, and he resigned from the Government in September of that year after allegations of financial irregularities surfaced. Despite an extensive inquiry into his business dealings, nothing was ever proven before his death on 16 March 1977.
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