William James Percival Bailey

Date of birth: 4th March 1891
Place of birth: Cape Town
Service No.: 1603
Rank: Sapper
Regiment: Royal Engineers
Battalion: 1/2nd (Hants) Army Troop Coy.
Died: 26th September 1915 aged 29 years
Death location: Battle of Loos, France and Flanders

 

Life before the War
Percy’s family was a very complicated one.  For instance, the 1911 census states that his father, Henry William, had been married for 26 years at that time.  It is almost definite that he did not marry Elizabeth Patterson until 1912.  One online genealogy site states that Henry was married previously to one Margaret Martin, but there is no evidence of that union.

It must be assumed that the 2 oldest children, and the children born in South Africa, have a different mother than the other siblings simply because Elizabeth would not have been old enough to have given birth in some cases.

Henry was born in Chichester, probably in 1858.  He states in the 1911 census that he is 60 years old.  He died in Southampton on 24th September 1915, two days before his son Percy.

Elizabeth was born in Cape Town, probably in 1870.  The 1911 census states she is 43 years old.  It is not known when she passed away.

The two of them must have met in South Africa but there is no evidence of Henry travelling out there.

Percy’s siblings – 4 sisters and 5 brothers – were:

Catherine Jane   born 15th December 1879 Southampton and died 10th February 1964 Southampton.

George Henry   born June 1881 Southampton and died 1881 Southampton.

Emily Elizabeth   born 30th March 1886 Cape Town and died 17th September 1967.
Married Isaac Henry Cooper in Southampton in 1905.

George Henry   born 21st June 1886 Cape Town and died 30th May 1964.
Married Agnes Lillian Charrett in Southampton in 1910.

Edith Lilian   born 2nd February 1890 Cape Town.  Date of death not known.

Mabel Florence   born 12th June 1893 Southampton and died 20th September 1975.

Charles Wesley Patterson   born 17th September 1895 Southampton and died 3rd June 1983 Paulsgrove.

Albert Edward   born 30th November 1896 Southampton and died September 1914 Liverpool.  Please select Albert’s name to read more of his story.

Frederick Reginald    born 7th January 1900 Southampton and died 12th March 1983 Southampton.
Married Ida M. Leatherdale in Southampton in 1920.

Percy married Hilda Jessie Weyman in Southampton in 1912.  Hilda was born around 1889 at 14 Milner Street, Shirley and it is not known when she passed away.

 

War Service
It has been very difficult to track down Percy’s battalion details.  He almost certainly perished during the Battle of Loos, which began on 25th September 1915.

The 26th was a bad day for the Allied forces.  There were many casualties because of miscommunication and German counter-attacks.

Percy is interred at Lillers Communal Cemetery, France (Plot IV, Row C, Grave 3)

 

Battle of Loos
This was the largest British offensive mounted in 1915 on the Western Front during WW1.  The first British use of poison gas occurred and the battle was the first mass engagement of new army units.  The British offensive was part of the attempt by the French to break through the German defences in Artois and Champagne and restore a war of movement.  Despite improved methods, more ammunition and better equipment the Franco-British attacks were contained by the German armies, except for local losses of ground.

 

Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published: 13th May 2015
Updated: Insert dates here

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