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Alfred William Bailey was born and brought up in Preston the son of William and Rose Bailey (nee Perry). He was born in 1877 and was one of eight children born to William and Rose who had married in the Parish Church of St. John in Preston on Christmas Day 1873. The couple had three girls and five boys including Alfred, the others being Elizabeth Ellen (1876), Mary Jane (1879), Charles (1881), John James (1883), Walter (1885-1885), George (1887) and Florence Rose (1889).

In 1891 Alfred was living at 57 Gordon Street with his parents and siblings, his father was a labourer in an iron foundry and Alfred was a biscuit maker.

Sadly Alfred`s father died in 1895 and two years later his mother Rose remarried to widower William Whalley in Emmanuel Church in Preston. Alfred was not recorded on the 1901 Census because he had joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment by then and was serving with them in South Africa during the Boer War. His mother was living at 56 Fletcher Road in Preston with three of her children, Charles, George and Florence and the three of them have been recorded with the Whalley surname.

When he returned home from the war Alfred married Catherine Wright in St. Luke`s Church in Preston on 22 March, 1902. By 1911 they had two children, Nicholas (1902) and William (1905). Alfred was now working as a house painter and the family were living at 174 Villiers Street in Preston.

Alfred went to enlist at Preston on 21st November 1914 and was allocated the number 18337. His Medal Index Card indicates he went to France on 4th January 1915 although this is slightly at odds with the newspaper article below.

The Battalion History states that by the 5th January 1915 the strength of the 1st Battalion had been reduced to no more than 15 Officers and 385 other ranks and so they were in desperate need of reinforcements. At this time they were occupying billets in the rear of the Cambrin area at Beuvry but were then sent up to the trenches around Cuinchy to relieve the 2nd Kings Royal Rifles.

They stayed in the trenches until the 13th January and were then relieved by the Royal Sussex and went back to billets in Annequin which was about a mile to the rear of the front line. On arrival at Annequin they discovered a new draft of 360 men and 3 Officers had arrived so this is more than likely when Alfred joined them.

Unfortunately Alfred was severely wounded at some point but we have no idea when this happened. Apparently he sustained 28 wounds altogether, 15 wounds in his right leg, 12 in his left leg and he also lost half of his right arm but amazingly he survived.

Alfred eventually made it back to England for treatment and was later sent to Howick Hall in Northumberland to recover. Howick Hall was a private stately residence owned by the Grey family and it was loaned by Albert, 4th Earl Grey for use as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) Hospital during the war.

The following article and photograph was printed in the Preston Guardian prior to Alfred`s discharge from hospital. The photograph was presumably taken outside Howick Hall.

bailey2 bailey1

Alfred was eventually discharged from the Army on 19 July, 1915 due to his wounds and received the Silver War Badge numbered 59963. He was also entitled to the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

Alfred and Catherine`s eldest son Nicholas married Lily Knowles in August 1928 at St. Mark`s Church in Preston. The marriage details note that his father Alfred`s occupation was a painter so it would appear that despite his injuries and the loss of part of an arm Alfred did manage to return to his original job as a painter.

Catherine Bailey died in the March quarter of 1942 in Preston and Alfred lived for another 12 years after his wife`s death until he passed away in 1954 at the age of 77.

Janet Davis

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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