Jun 17

Walter George Bailey

Known as George or Joe, he was born on the 19 February 1890, the youngest of five sons of Emma and James Bailey, a butcher in High Street Thame. He was at LWGS from the early years of the 20th century, until 1906 at the latest. On leaving school he did not follow his two eldest brothers into the family business but became a draper’s assistant.

Soon, however, he signed up as a professional footballer, both before and after the war, playing for many clubs including Thame United, Oxford City, Reading, and Nottingham Forest. He played as an inside forward and made over 180 appearances in the Southern League and the Football League for Reading and Nottingham Forest. For the former, he made over 180 appearances and scored 77 goals. He represented England at amateur level for two games in 1912. (FIFA state that all full internationals played by the English amateur national teams against non-British national teams until 1924 are to be considered as full “A” internationals.) He was an all-round sportsman as well, playing cricket for Berkshire and Oxfordshire (Berkshire (Minor Counties Championship: 1913-1920); Oxfordshire (Minor Counties Championship: 1925), hockey for Oxfordshire, and later coaching cricket.

He enlisted in 1915 in the Middlesex Regiment, was commissioned on the 29 August 1917 as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Norfolk Regiment but attached to the 3rd Suffolk Regiment, reaching the rank of Captain.  He was amongst the most highly decorated OTs of the war. As a 2nd Lieutenant he was awarded the DSO, and the MC with two bars, all in 1918. He was also mentioned in despatches.

Distinguished Service Order: T./2nd Lt. Walter George Bailey, M.C., 2nd Bn., Suffolk R.

“For conspicuous gallantry and able leadership as Battalion Intelligence Officer at Romeries, Escarmain and Beaudignies on 23rd October, 1918. He went forward and found that a company had become disorganised owing to the loss of all its officers, and was hesitating to go forward. He immediately took command, rallied the men, and succeeded in getting them to their objective under heavy shell fire. Later, he led them in the assault on the final objective. He showed great skill in consolidating the positions gained and in the disposal of his force.”
(The London Gazette, Supplement 31583, 3 October 1919.)

Military Cross: T./2nd Lt. Walter George Bailey, Norfolk R.
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When the line had to be reformed under heavy machine-gun fire, this officer moved about, placing the men in the best positions. He then made several journeys to an ammunition dump in front of the line, bringing back ammunition which was much needed. He also brought back a man who was lying wounded in the open.”
(The London Gazette, Supplement 30813, 23 July 1918.)

Bar to Military Cross: T ./2nd Lt. W alter George Bailey, M.C., Norf. R., attd. 2nd Bn., Suff. R.
“For conspicuous gallantry during an advance. Accompanied by one orderly he rushed a machine-gun post which was holding up the advance of the battalion, and captured 1 officer, 23 men, and 2 machine guns. Later in the day he made a reconnaissance under very heavy fire, and brought back information as to the position of the battalion. Two days later, accompanied by his orderly and two other men, he went forward and attacked two enemy machine guns, scattering the crews and killing several. His utter disregard of danger was magnificent.”
(The London Gazette, Supplement 31043, 29 November 1918.)

Second Bar to Military Cross: T./2nd Lt. Walter George Bailey, M.C., attd. 2nd Bn. Suff. R.
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at Seranvillers on October 8th, 1918. He assembled the troops, and afterwards with a few scouts moved forward with the attack, He cleared the village and, with four men, captured prisoners and machine guns. He reorganised men of the battalion who had lost their companies and then went out and ascertained the enemy’s dispositions under very heavy machine-gun and shell fire. Greatly owing to his gallant and determined leadership all objectives were gained.”
(The London Gazette, Supplement 31480, 30 July 1919.)

After the war he became a Freemason in the St Mary’s Thame Lodge on 21 March 1921 with the lodge number of 1763. In 1925, he married Majorie Rolph and they later moved to Preston just outside Weymouth, Dorset. He served as a company commander in the Dorset Home Guard during the Second World War. He and Majorie remained in Dorset until his death in July 1974, and he was buried in the village of Preston.

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