Roland was born in 1885, the son of John and Mary. Nothing is known of his early life, and the first known mention of him is on 17 March 1905 when he married Comfort Tinsley at St Mary’s Church, Stockport. She originated from the Walsall area and had also been born in 1885. As a 16 year old, she was living in Stockport in 1901 and working as a cotton spinner.
With such a common surname, it is not possible to be sure how many children they had but his army records only record one child – Mary, born on 21 October 1905. Family history websites record the birth, in the late summer of 1911, of a boy named Roland Tinsley Bailey who may have been a son who did not survive.
Roland enlisted into the army on 11 December 1915 and his service papers show him to have been 5’ 8” tall and then aged 31. He was living with Comfort and Mary at 3 Cook Street, Stockport and was working as a labourer. His services were not needed immediately and he was posted to the reserve and returned home. He was mobilised on 3 June 1916 and assigned to 94th Company, Royal Garrison Artillery. He would serve with the Company in India until the summer of 1918. He was then transferred to 88th Company then in Hong Kong where he remained until demobilised in February 1919.
His service papers, at the National Archives, give no indication that he was ill during his service but he returned home having caught malaria and died of this and heart disease. At the time of writing in November 2008, Roland is not commemorated in the country’s Debt of Honour Register maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It is probable that Comfort never told the army of his death as he was no longer a soldier. However, Roland’s death is directly attributable to his military service and, as such, his grave is entitled to be given official war grave status. A copy of his death certificate and service papers have now been submitted to the Commission with a request that they treat him as a casualty of the war.