Rank: Private
Service Number: 40431.
Regiment: 8th Bn. North Staffordshire Regiment Killed In Action Sunday 19th November 1916 Age 20County Memorial Congleton
Commemorated\Buried THIEPVAL MEMORIAL

His father is unknown but he was the son of Mrs. Mary Ellen Bailey of 16, Hatter Street, Congleton, Cheshire. Mary Ellen was unmarried when Harold was born, she married Alfred Fisher at Leek in December 1897. In 1901 he lived with his aunt Eliza A. Auty, at 71, Erdington Road, Blackpool, Lancashire. In 1911, he lived with his grandparents at Cloudside, near Congleton, Cheshire. He had six half-sisters Alice, Esther, Lily, Sarah Elizabeth and Eva Fisher, the last sister (unknown name), along with a brother Arthur Bailey and one half-brother Alfred Fisher. Prior to enlistment he was employed by his grandfather, Thomas Bailey, a Stonemason, at Cloudside, Congleton, Cheshire.


Private Harold Bailey enlisted in the 8th Battalion the North Staffordshire Regiment, attached to the 57th Brigade, 19th Western Division, in the month of September, 1914, He was stationed on Salisbury Plain, but in December 1914, he moved into billets in Bristol, until February 1915 when he moved to Weston- super- Mare, before going to Tidworth in April 1916. He went out to France in September 1916.

On the 17th of November 1916, the Battalion was situated in Marlborough Huts carrying out training on bombs, rockets etc, after which they moved out to Stuff Redoubt where they remained until the next morning. Soup and Rum were served out to the Battalion on the 18th prior to them forming up to attack Desire Trench, as part of the Battle of Ancre. At exactly 06 10 hours, the artillery barrage opened up and the first wave moved off keeping quite close to the barrage. After commencement of operations all touch seemed to be lost with the Battalion. The attack having failed, the survivors made their way back as best they could to the place where they started from in the morning. One officer Second Lieutenant Sillern was left in temporary charge of what was left of the Battalion. The casualties were very heavy, 17 Officers and 317 Other Ranks were either killed, wounded, or missing, among the missing at the time was Private Harold Bailey, who was later assumed to have been killed in action, his body was never recovered but he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.

Extract from The Congleton Chronicle 1917.

After twelve months of anxious waiting Mrs. Fisher, of Hatter Street, Congleton, has received the sad news from the War Office that her son Private Harold Bailey, of the North Staffordshire Regiment was posted as dead. Since the official intimation on December 12th, 1916, that he was "missing". Mrs. Fisher had made enquiries through every conceivable channel with a view to obtaining news of the absent soldier, and even after the assurance of a comrade-in-arms that he saw him when life had fled, the family never gave up hoping that their gallant soldier boy would return home with glad and martial tread. It was not to be, however, and friends of young Bailey, he was only 18 when he enlisted in 1914, now know that he died as becomes a son of Britain. It will be remembered that towards the end of last year the North Staffordshire Regiment saw some sanguinary fighting, and it was inevitable, of course, that their splendid work should entail sacrifices, and while it is sad to think that such a bright young life should be claimed by the Grim Reaper, the devoted mother and family will doubtless receive some consolation in their grief from the regimental pride and the inspiring achievements of the British arms. It is a noble cause to make sacrifice for, but there are naturally sorrowing hearts all the same, and while it is necessary brevity we would interpret the thought of the town and neighbourhood as full of honour for those who, like Private Bailey, have given their all, and full of sincere sympathy with those who sorrow. Private Bailey was eager to fight for so great a cause, and so he fell fighting, for the sake of his beloved land, and for the preservation of national and personal liberty and the essential spirit of Christianity. As intimated the mother did not hear anything definite of her son until enquiries had been made in proper quarters, the result of which was the receipt of the following letter.

Dear, Mrs. Fisher,                                                                                                                         Somewhere in France.

Just a few lines to let you know that I am quite well and have not forgotten you, hoping you are keeping well at Congleton. I do not know if you have heard anything more concerning your son, but I received a letter from some Lord Lucan and this is how it read.

British Red Cross and Order of St. John,

We understand that you can give information about Private Harold Bailey, 40131, Company, 8th North Staffordshire Regiment, as we are making enquiries about him on behalf of his friends, who are anxious about him. We would be very grateful if you would kindly let us know anything you can about him. It is stated that you saw him killed, can you tell us if you were actually an eye-witness of his death. In your reply please quote Private Bailey's name, Number, and regiment in full for reference. I answered it saying that I was not actually an eye-witness of his death, but that I saw him dead. If you should want to know anything else concerning him, you have only to drop a line to me and I will do my best.

I will close,         

Yours Sincerely,

Private G. A, Swingewood.

In reply to official enquiries surrounding the death of Private Bailey, Drummer G. A. Swingewood replied as follows.

In reply to your enquiries about Bailey, I saw him in front of our trenches after an attack at ?????, I did not actually see him fall, but I saw him in a shell hole, and thinking that I might be able to help him, I went up to him and saw that he was beyond help, as he had been shot through the head. The day was Saturday November 18th 1916. I can say no more.

Mrs. Fisher, after sending a personal enquiry to the War Office on the 13th of last month, received an official notification (dated 1st December) confirming the news of the death of her son, stating that he was " killed in action or died of wounds on the 18th/ 19th of November 1916". The War Office stated that they regretted that the correct casualty suffered by this soldier was not originally reported, but that it was not always possible to collect accurate information regarding casualties immediately after an action, and also expressed the sympathy of the Army Council.

Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for compiling this research on Harold