Henry BAILEY
Rank: Private
Number: 316264
Unit: 1st Battalion MONMOUTHSHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 29 September 1918
Age: 21
Cemetery: Vadencourt British Cemetery, Maissemy, Aisen, France

Born in Hull, Henry possibly never lived in Hazel Grove, where he is commemorated on the local War Memorial. His connection with the immediate area appears to be through other family members and, after the War, his parents, Henry and Mary Jane, were living at 122 Newbridge Lane. He enlisted at Stockport and his service number confirms that he was assigned to the Regiment's 4th Battalion and that it was sometime after the beginning of 1917. The 4th Battalion was a training unit and, before going on active service, Henry was reassigned to the 1st Battalion.

The Battalion was a pre-War Territorial unit, with its Headquarters in Newport. It first went overseas in 1915 and suffered many casualties in the fighting. From September of that year, it became one of the Pioneer Battalions - comprised of men trained to fight but whose main role was in construction.

Henry is known to have died at an army field hospital at Maissemy, from wounds he'd received in action. His service file was destroyed in a fire at the National Archives in the 1940s so it cannot be known for certain when he was injured. However, it would have been within the few days prior to his death. Men did not stay long at a field hospital - either their condition was stabilised sufficiently to allow a further evacuation or they died.

On 27 September, the men were working on defences at Somerville Wood near Vendelles. Two men were injured, probably by enemy shellfire, and needed to be sent to hospital. One of them may have Henry.

Work continued the next day until the afternoon, when tthe Battalion moved forward to take up its positions for an attack the next day. The leading battalions of infantry would attempt to cross the St Quentin canal and the Monmouths role would be to bring up supplies for bridging it. Three men were injured during the day - two from "B" Company and one form "C".

Throughout the night "A" and "B" Companies carried up the cork bridges that would be used and stored them just behind the leading troops. At "zero hour", not long after dawn, the infantry went forward behind a British artillery barrage which rolled across No Man's Land. As they did, the smoke from the shelling added to a heavy mist and it became impossible to see more than few yards. The Monmouths War Diary records "At Zero + 15 minutes "A" and "B" Coys moved forward and commenced carrying their materials to the Canal. In spite of the very dense fog, the Coys reached the Canal quickly and plenty of the bridging material was hauled up. At Zero + 20 minutes "C" Coy moved forward and commenced work on road WATLING STREET and to Canal via tracks running south east....... "

After a short rest, the battalion got to work again and crossed the canal and worked to improve the Bellenglise - Joncourt road , no doubt filling in shell holes, etc. They had also captured a number of prisoners during the morning's advance. Casualties had been light. Only one man had been killed but Henry may have been amongst 19 wounded and needing medical attention.

Some further information about Henry may be found in the book "Hazel Grove to Armageddon" by John Eaton.

   
           
   
     
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