yeovil at War

Frank Bailey

Died of his wounds in Flanders

 

Frank Bailey was born in 1884 in Kentish Town, London, but by 1891 he was living with his grandmother, Mary Ann Monkton, at East Lambrook. His mother Emma, originally from Middle Lambrook, had been widowed but by 1901 she was living at 41 Kiddles Lane (today's Eastland Road) with 17year old Frank and her 13-year old daughter Grace. Emma gave her occupation as a Leather Glove Maker and Frank gave his as a Leather Glove Wheeler. They both worked at Whitby's glove factory. By 1911 the family had moved to 4 Hill View, off Sherborne Road but later moved to 21 Sparrow Lane.

In January 1915 Frank enlisted in the Army and became Guardsman (Service No 22660) of 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards. The Battalion moved overseas in July 1915, landing at Le Havre, and Frank would have joined them as soon as his basic training was completed.

During the Third Battle of Ypres, in the latter part of July 1917, the 3rd Grenadier Guards' War Diary tells of the movements of the unit that would have affected Private Frank Bailey (question marks in the transcription denote where the entries are illegible) -

"13 July 1917 - The Battn moved to the FOREST AREA (All Coys) Bivouac 16 where it stayed for the night. On the 14th the Battn moved to A12d17 with HQ in a farm house & the Coys in bivouacs round two fields. There great attention had to be paid to camouflage, as German aeroplanes were constantly flying over, & there was a certain amount of shelling neighbouring guns. During the stay at A12d, fatigue was done nightly. About 300 men were on average employed nightly. fatigues consisted chiefly of carrying T.M. ammunition to front line & sandbags, wire etc. to various places. The Battn suffered a few casualties during this period. After the Battn had been here a few days the camp was shelled by 5.9” but only the good frontline little damage was done. The ??? training done was ??? ???? of signallers (of which Frank was one) and stretcher bearers.

21/22 July - On the night of 21/22 the Battn relieved the 2nd Battalion Irish Guards in the Right Bde sector of the BOESINGHE area. Dispositions were:

No 1 Coy 3 platoons in the right front line, 1 in WALL PRANTZ (this had to be evacuated due to very heavy shelling).
No 2 Coy 3 platoons to left front line, 1 in S line.
No 3 Coy in X line
No 4 Coy 1 platoon in Y line (which was also evacuated) Y 3 platoons at BILLIEP FARM.
HQ at CHASSEUR FARM

There was a great deal of shelling during this tour in the line & the Battn suffered the following casualties in the five days up:- 27 killed; 11 Died of wounds, wounded 45 O.R. gassed 10 O.R. Concussion 7 O.R. Wd & D at 2 Officers & 2 O.R.

25/26 July - On the night of 25/26 No 4 Coy relieved No 1 Coy in the front line owing to the latter's heavy casualties. No 4 Coy was to have carried out a raid across the canal on this night to ascertain what enemy were holding the opposite front and to discover if the YPER LEE was a serious obstacle. On the previous night (24/25) 2/Lt W.G. Webster had made an excellent reconnaissance of the canal and had marked four places on which the canal could be crossed without the men getting very wet, as in many places the water reached well up their middles.

26/27 July - On the night of 26/27 the Battn was relieved by the 3rd Battn Coldstream Gds during daylight. The relief was carried out without any trouble, & the Battn returned to Bivouac 10 (???? Area). Here the final arrangements for the offensive were carried out; the attack expected to be daily & was eventually settled to be the 31st zero at 3.50am.

29 July - On 29 July 50% of the details remaining out of the attack moved to HERZEEZE under Captain J. Cragie & 2 Lt G. FitzGerald. Remainder stayed in bivouacs.

30 July -  At 9.30pm on the 30th the Battn moved off to go to the assembly area. Major G.G.C. Rasch DSO remained in command of the details, of which there were approximately about 40 a company. 5pm Administrative arrangements completed.

9.30pm - The Bn (less No 4 Coy under Lt Heasman detailed for carrying parties marched off from No 10 Bivouac forest area moving by infantry Track II & Railway St. (Picketted by Bn Police).

Midnight - Bn Rendezvoused S.W. of PILLS DUMP where Battn had hot tea & rum.
27 12.40 am

31 July - 12:40am - An advanced Bn Headquarters party to-gether with Platoon marchers moved off under 2/Lt L.HOLBECH to the assembly area in open Between WAALKRANZ-ROTHERHAM Rd RAILWAY ST and X Line.Disposition of Companies in assembly area.

No 1 Coy {No 2 Pn No 1 Pn No 6 Pn No 5 Pn} No 2 Coy
No 1 Coy {No 4 Pn No 3 Pn No 8 Pn No 7 Pn} No 2 Coy
No 3 Coy {No 9 Pn Bo 10 Pn No 11 Pn No 12}

As soon as the marchers were in position the Bn advanced party moved forward crossing the canal just at zero hour and joined the 4th Wave of the Scots Guards.

1.15am - Bn recommenced march to assembly area.

3.30am - Bn in position. Bn H.Q. in X line. No shelling at all up to this time.

3.50am - Zero. Slight German shelling but on trenches and not in assembly area.

5am - No 1 Coy moved off followed by No 2 and No 3. All were in artillery formation. Bn H.Q. moved at same time from X line.

5.30am - All the Battn across the canal. The crossing took place S. of Railway Bridge.

5.40am - The Battn pushed on towards the Blue line & the first casualties were incurred S.E. of artillery wood.

5.50am - No 2 Coy disengaged & came up on left of No 1 Coy. BHQ established at PALLISADE FARM. Hostile machine gun fire from about TAMBOUR HOUSE caused about 20 casualties but was silenced by Lewis Gun fire and No 1 Coy.

6am - Nos 1 & 2 Companies finding very few Scots Guardsman in this front available for the capture of the BLACK LINE deployed into two waves. No 3 was in support in artillery formation. The Battn then moved forward close up to barrage & captured the BLACK LINE halting at Right angles to STADEN RAILWAY and 50 x

6.40am - N.W. of Wood House. A party of Scots Guards under Capt BRADSHAW moved up between 1st + 2nd waves and No 3 Coy. This party then went through our line & halted 50 yards in advance of it. B.H.Q. established with 1st Bn Coldstream Guards at C1.B.6.7.Aeroplane ground sheets were put out & we communicated our position to our contact aeroplanes by means of the ???? flapper. Machine gun fire from the railway (dealt with by No 1 Coy) and indirect machine gun fire from about the STEENBECK.

7am - Companies were reformed in preparation for advance to GREEN LINE.

7.14am - The advance commenced. There was a considerable amount of opposition here from casemate Block Houses along the Railway in the 38th Divisional area. This necessitated the extension of No 1 Coy to the right and reinforcing the 2nd wave. The right of the Battn began to check but reinforcements from No 3 Company carried the line forward. At the same time No 2 Company captured a Block House on the left containing 4 machine guns. 3 Officers and 50 OR. This was just short of the Green Line. No 2 Coy also assisted No 1 Coy with covering fire (Rapid Lewis Gun).

7.55am - The GREEN LINE was captured and consolidation commenced. No 2 Coy here got in touch with 1st Battn Coldstream Guards on the left. VULCAN CROSSING was captured by No 1 and 3 Companies. Covering fire from No 1 Company was brought to bear on to the enemys machine gun at about U27c & d central which enabled 38th Division to continue their advance to the GREEN LINE where they commenced to dig in and to where they were in touch with No 1 Company.

Two (2) platoons No 3 Coy assisted No 1 Coy to dig in. The remainder of No 3 dug a support line about 300 yards in rear of Green Line. The Germans put down their barrage on road (VOLCAN CROSSING-KORTEKEER ????). Battalion Headquarters established at C2.a.8.9.
1 Platoon 2nd Bn Grenadier Guards assisted No 3 Coy to capture a M / gun post on right of Railway.

8am - Covering patrols (2 lewis Guns from each front Company) went out up to the Barrage.

8.40am - 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards commenced moving through The 3rd Battalion held their lines as above until after dark when No 1 Company came back and dug a line on the left of GRAND BARRIERE House. No 2 Company continued to hold the Green Dotted Line, No 3 Company the Support Line and No 4 Company the BLUE LINE. Exceptionally heavy rain fell all the evening & all night."

It was during this advance during the morning of 31 July 1917 that a shell exploded next to Private Frank Bailey, wounding him in the side. He was carried off the field on a stretcher to No 47 Casualty Clearing Station, but died of his wounds on 2 August. He was aged 33.

On 17 August 1917, the Western Gazette reported "Yet another Yeovilian to make the supreme sacrifice is Priv. Frank Bailey, of the – Batt. Grenadier Guards, the news of whose death was received by his mother, who resides at 21 Sparrow Lane, during last week, in the following letter: “It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has been received from the War Office notifying the death of Private F Bailey of the Grenadier Guards, which occurred on August 2nd, as the result of wounds received in action. By His Majesty’s command I am to express the sympathy of the King and Queen with you, and also at the same time to express the regret of the Army Council at the soldier’s dearth in his country’s service - E.G.SHELLEY, Lieutenant.” Another letter received from his Adjutant, states:- “The Battalion attacked on the morning of July 31st, and during the advance a shell burst close to your son, wounding him in the left side. He was carried away on a stretcher as soon as possible, but died of his wounds on 2nd August in hospital at No. 47 Casualty Clearing Station. I will send you details of where he is buried as soon as I know them….Your son whilst he has been with the Battalion had proved himself a most willing and capable signaller, and I am sorry indeed that we should have lost him.” Prior to enlisting, about two years ago, deceased was employed at Messrs. Whitby’s glove factory, where he was well known and highly respected. He was also a prominent member of the old Football XI, and his many friends and associates in the town and district will regret to hear of his death. The late Private Bailey was also a member of the Whist League and Skittling Club. Much sympathy is felt for his mother and sister."

Frank Bailey was interred in Dozinghem Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium - Grave II. G. 9 - and his name is recorded on the War Memorial in the Borough.

 

gallery

 

Men of the 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, shown in the Illustrated London News in 1914.

 

The Grenadier Guards road-making near Albert, Somme, France, September 1916.

Photographed by Ernest Brooks, a British photographer best known for his war photography from the First World War. He was the first official photographer to be appointed by the British military, and produced several thousand images between 1915 and 1918, more than a tenth of all British official photographs taken during the war.

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Frank Bailey.

 

Frank Bailey's headstone.

 

Dozinghem Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Westvleteren was outside the front held by Commonwealth forces in Belgium during the First World War, but in July 1917, in readiness for the forthcoming offensive, groups of casualty clearing stations were placed at three positions called by the troops Mendinghem, Dozinghem and Bandaghem. The 4th, 47th and 61st Casualty Clearing Stations were posted at Dozinghem and the military cemetery was used by them until early in 1918. The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

There are now 3,174 Commonwealth burials of the First World War in the cemetery and 65 German war graves from this period. The cemetery also contains 73 Second World War burials dating from the Allied withdrawal to Dunkirk in May 1940.