James Bailey, Sergeant 11039, 8th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 13th April 1916 in Mesopotamia (Iraq), aged 39
James Bailey was born in Macclesfield in 1877, the son of Joseph and Hannah Bailey, of 72 Windmill Street, Macclesfield.
James married Sarah Ann Rollinson on 6th January 1904 at Macclesfield and they set up home at 10 Tabor Street, Macclesfield. The couple had three children: James (junior) born 1906, Hannah, born 1908, and Jessie, born 1913.
The family later lived at 42 Windmill Street, Macclesfield.
James attested in Macclesfield on the 17th August 1914, straight after the declaration of war. Prior to enlisting into the army James was employed as a bricklayers labourer. His army medical record shows him to have been a man of five feet six and three quarter inches tall weighed 147lbs with a chest measurement of forty inches, his eyes were brown and so was his hair.
James gain promotion fairly rapidly, but after attaining the rank of Sergeant he was promptly reduced to the rank of Corporal for a military misdemeanour.
On the 26th June 1915 James embarked with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) for the Persian Gulf, stopping off on the way at the Dardanelles and participating in the evacuation of Suvla and Helles. The MEF proceeded from here to Port Said before embarking for Basra where they were part of the 13th Division. James was then re-promoted to the rank of Signalling Sergeant. The 8th Battalion were actively engaged in a second attempt to take Sannaiyat; their efforts to take the Turkish trenches were met with fierce opposition resulting in seven men killed fifty wounded and sixty four missing. James was one of the wounded on the 11th April 1916 and he died as a result of these wounds two days later on the 13th April at the age of 39. His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 12 May 1916:
A FIGHTING FAMILY: ONE OF FIVE BROTHERS KILLED – Mrs Sarah Ann Bailey, 46 Windmill St, Macclesfield, has received a notification that her husband, Corporal James Bailey, 8th Cheshire Regt, was killed in action on April 13th. Corporal Bailey went out to the Dardanelles in June and was present at the evacuation of Suvla. His subsequent movement were somewhat uncertain, but it is surmised he was with the force despatched to the relief of General Townshend at Kut.
Corporal Bailey enlisted on the outbreak of war. He had previously served nearly twenty years with the 1st Cheshires, eight of which were spent in India. he was formerly employed as a bricklayer’s labourer. Deceased was 39 years of age and had three children. Corporal Bailey attended the Mount Tabor United Methodist Chapel. He was keenly interested in bird life and was a well-known footballer, having played for the regimental team.
In his last letter to his wife, written over a month ago, he stated that he was enjoying a well-earned rest, and asked for photographs of his wife and children. Corporal Bailey has four brothers who have fought or are fighting for their country, namely: Private Wm Bailey, 1st Ches Regt (who has been a prisoner of war in Germany since the battle of Mons on August 24th 1914); Private Joseph (who has 17 years’ service to his credit and was discharged after being wounded int he left hand at La Bassee); Corporal John, King’s Royal Rifles (who has served in France and is now in hospital at Sussex); and Private Matthew, 1/7th Cheshire Regt (now suffering from dysentry in hospital in England after having been out to the Dardanelles). Two nephews of the late Corporal Bailey are also doing their bit – Private Charles Parkinson, who has served in France; and his youngest nephew who is in a naval training school.
Sergeant James Bailey is buried in Grave Ref. XIX. A. 9. at the Amara War Cemetery, Iraq.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Sergeant James Bailey, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21st September 1921 included one with the words “Sergeant J. Bailey – Deepest sympathy from wife, children, mother and brothers.”