Alwin Claydon Bailey MC
Captain Alwin Bailey, accompanied by his sister Gwen, at Buckingham Palace to receive his Military Cross
Based on an article in the April 2009 journal of the Great War Study Group.
Alwin Claydon Bailey enlisted as a Private into the 23rd (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers in London on 9 October 1914, while a theology student. This Battalion was more widely known as the 1st Sportsman’s Battalion and would soon move from London to Hornchurch in Essex.
The Battalion had a number of men who were considered to be officer candidates, and their history recounts that these men were all formed into one distinct company, E Company, which acquired the nickname of the 'Essex Beagles' since it was said that they would meet rather than parade.
Six months later Bailey was discharged as a private soldier, the normal process of the time, and commissioned into the East Lancashire Regiment. In the middle of 1915 he joined their 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion which was then based at Plymouth and which performed two functions. First, as part of a larger garrison, it was required to defend Plymouth and second, it provided drafts of officers and men to the East Lancashire Battalions deployed overseas. It was as a result of this latter function that Bailey joined the 6th (Service) Battalion.
The date of his joining is uncertain. He was not listed as one of the officers when they left Blackdown for the Mediterranean in June 1915 when the Battalion was deployed at Helles during practically the whole of July and later at the Battle of Sair Baba on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Leaving Gallipoli on 18 December, the Battalion spent a month on Lemnos, and another month in Egypt before heading off to Kuwait and Mesopotamia, where they deployed against the Turkish forces.
Bailey was first mentioned in the regimental history on 17 April1916, when it was reported that he had been seriously wounded. The East Lancashires had been ordered to retake a trench line at Beit Aisa, some 5-10 miles ENE of Kut-Al-Amara, when they encountered heavy fire from their rear.
For Bailey this meant a bullet in the head above his left ear. Unsurprisingly, medical evacuation quickly followed and he was taken to Karachi for treatment. It appears that treatment necessitated the fitting of a metal plate, but it is not known when. He was sent back to England for six months convalescent leave.
He landed in Folkestone on 20 August 1916, having disembarked from the cross-channel ferry from Boulogne. There is a hospital patient’s label from HMHS Neuralia dated 8 August 1916 which suggests that the ship brought him from India to France, landing him at Marseilles where he, and others like him, were sent on a long, and probably often interrupted, train journey northwards.
Return to Iraq
His convalescence leave over, Bailey returned to the East Lancashire’s 6th (Service) Battalion, which by now was north of Baghdad. He is mentioned twice more in the regimental history, when, for the second time, he was wounded on 30 April 1917, and later when the award of the Military Cross was awarded the following February.
He relinquished his commission in May 1920 and died on 25 June. The cause of death was septic meningitis, believed to be the result of his second wound. This has led to him being recognised, following research by the Great War Study Group, as a war casualty.