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Pte. William Bainbridge Bailey

British Army Durham Light Infantry 13th Btn.

I have been doing some research into my great-grandfather who fought in the Great War.

His name was William Bainbridge Bailey. Rank: Private. He fought with the 13th Durham Light Infantry at Contalmaison on the Somme and also with the Northumberland Fusiliers in many fronts, including the Third Battle of Ypres.

There is some confusion with the Battle of Contalmaison; his war diary (now in the University of Leeds) says he fought on the 4th August 1916. However the websites I have researched show the Battles of Contalmaison were in July 1916. If anyone has any information on this I would be grateful. I would also love to hear about any connections with my grandfather.

Main Events from 1915 – 1917

Joined the Royal Fusiliers on November 1915, aged 19. Transferred to Northumberland Fusiliers June 24th (part of Tyneside Scottish Regiment). Arrived in France July 15th. Transferred to 13th Durham Light Infantry in Franvilliers. Fought at Albert in front line 28th July. Said there were very heavy casualties. August 1st was deployed to Contalmaison (part of the Somme front). 4th August attacked Contalmaison at dusk (hit by machine gun bullet in right thigh and lay in no-man’s land for three days). 7th August crawled back to trenches. Sent home to England for treatment 13th August.

Served in reserve Northumberland Fusiliers four miles from Hull. Transferred to Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish) 9th January 1917. Deployed to Armentiers. 11th February went on bombing raid at Armentiers. Not injured although the battalion suffered heavy casualties.13th February came back to battalion at Gadewelde. 9th April (Easter Monday) went over top at Arras. 24th April left Arras reserve and went to front line. Had a rough time taking position and Battalion suffered heavy casualties. 30th April, just one hour before being relieved, the unit was shelled heavily. Had a very narrow escape, five men killed next to him and two wounded.

After being in and out of hospital with a skin disease, he returned to Northumberland Fusiliers. 5th July left for front lines at Peronne. 8th July went to front for four days. Said it was ‘very hot’ with no let up at all. Went over the top just East of Hardecourt. Captured 600 yards of enemy trench.

7th October deployed to Ypres. 16th October was sent to Ypres front line (Passchendaele). Night of 16th October was hit with shrapnel in both legs and right arm. Sent to Number 2 Canadian General Hospital, had three operations and left leg was amputated just above knee. Left for England, or in his words, ‘Back to Blighty.’


  • - Trained with Royal Fusiliers
  • - Fought for Durham Light Infantry at Albert and Contalmaison (The Somme).
  • - Fought for Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish) at: Armentiers, Arras, Peronne, Hardecourt and Ypres. (Passchendaele).

    War Reminiscences

  • “Enough of War”
  • “I realized how close God always is to us, one always feels a little reserved about one’s own experience, suffering and hardships. Never boast. And your never alone in trouble.”

    Main Reminiscences

  • - Laying alone in no-man’s land.
  • - Crossing channel for third time in a paddleboat when he encountered a mine. Suffered worst sea-sickness but said, “Navy, good work.”
  • - Etaples, never ending stream of men.
  • - Doing gas guard.

    His Lucky and Unlucky Fridays

  • - Born on Good Friday April 3rd 1896.
  • - Sworn into the army Friday November 19th 1915.
  • - Left England for France Friday July 14th 1916.
  • - Wounded at Contalmaison Friday August 4th 1916
  • - Home on sick furlough Friday October 1916.
  • - Left leg amputated Friday November 12th 1917.

    Peter Atkinson

  • If you know of anyone who served with this unit at the Battle of Messines, please complete the form below so that they can be remembered.

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