Saturday, 8 February 2014

52569 Pte George Henry Bailey- RAMC

I first met 'Bob' Bailey in September 1981 and interviewed him on the 15th of that month.  Over the next few years I saw him on and off; usually in The Ship which was his local and the place he met a couple of other Great war veterans that I befriended: Reg Crane of the 4th Royal Berkshire Regiment, and Paddy O'Sullivan of the Royal Field Artillery.  Bob lived in Coval Lane, just around the corner from another veteran, Stan Brown of the Leicestershire Regiment.  Looking back now, forty-odd years later, it seems as if there was a veritable glut of First World War veterans back then, but I remember how difficult it was, even then, to track them down and interview them.  They were all in their eighties and over, and they were all dying off fast.
I never knew Bob Bailey as George Bailey; he was always called Bob.  Yet he was born George Henry Bailey in Chlemsford on 28th December 1985 and his medal index card notes George H Bailey.  For me, 19 years old, he was always simply Mr Bailey.
Bob Bailey was an apprentice with the National Steam Car Company when he enlisted with the RAMC on 2nd February 1915.  He served overseas from June 1915, working on hospital barges and hospital trains. He preferred to recall that RAMC was an acronym for Run Away, Mother's Coming, rather than Rob All My Comrades.  What follows are notes from Bob Bailey's diary kept, against regulations, between February and November 1915. 

February 2nd: Enlisted
February 5th: Left Chelmsford for Aldershot
February 13th : Left Aldershot for Chatham

June 7th: Left Chatham for Aldershot
June 14th: Left Aldershot for Southampton.  Load 600 tons of hospital equipment on the City of Chester.  Stopped at rest camp for the main body to join us.
June 15th: Left Southampton at 5pm
June 16th: Arrived at Boulogne at 4am.  Landed 11:15am.  Stopped on boat for another night and went to the rest camp for another night
June 18th: Left Boulogne at 12 for Dammes Camiers.  Arrived 1:30pm Friday
July 6th: Started to put our first HP tent up.  The tents were used in the 1911 Delhi Durbar
July 13th: We are about two miles off the sea and we had a bathing parade
July 15th: We had 20 tents up
July 16th: Put the mattress covers on
July 17th & 18th: Garrison Guard 24 hours
July 18th: Sisters arrived
July 20th: Equipping ward ready for wounded
July 21st: Ditto.  Bathing parade
July 22nd: Ditto
July 23rd: Equipping and night guard equipment
July 24th: Equipping
July 25th: Church Parade and fatigue up to 8
July 26th: Taking tents
July 27th: Pitching tents
July 28th: Pitching tents.  Played football game v Canadians No 3 Gen. “25” won 3-2
July 29th: Equipping wards
July 30th: Equipping and detailed for Nursing Orderly of ward. 28 beds
July 31stGetting ward ready for wounded
August 1st: Church parade and getting ready for wounded
August 2nd :  Ditto
August 3rd: Preparing ward.  Sports.  Canadian got 93 pts, 20th Gen 32[1], 22 Gen 13[2], 25 Gen 8.  Concert in __________ of Hut by Princess Victoria troop
August 4th: Preparing ward on convoy duty
August 5th: Preparing ward.  Convoy arrived at 11:30.  On equipment guard
August 6th: Ward duties
August 7th: Ward duties.  2nd convoy of 70 arrived 8pm
August 8th: Ward duties
August 9th: 3rd Convoy arrived.  90 at 10:30pm
August 10th: 4h convoy of 120 arrived.  26 went to my ward (15 12) at 9am
August 11th:Ward duties
August 12th-14th : Ditto
August 15th:Ward duties and football match with ASC (Army Service Corps) 25th won 6-1
August 16th: Ward duties
August 17th: Ward duties and football match with 18th General at Etaples.  25th won 5-0.  5th convoy arrived at 10:30pm (50)
August 18th: Ward duties
August 19th:Ward duties convoy arrived 1:30am – 20 of 100
August 20th: Ward duties
August 21st: Football match return with 3rd Canadian.  25th won 5-2
August 22nd: Convoy arrived at 12. 100
August 23rd: Ward duties.  Princess Victoria concert
August 24th: Convoy a 3 in the early hours of the morning.  100
August 25th: Play 3rd Canadian at cricket.  Won by 5 wickets and 15 runs
August 27th: Convoy of 70 arrived at 4:30am
August 28th:Played 3rd Canadians and won 1-0
August 30th: Play No 7 convalescents and won 12-2

September 3rd: Convoy of 80 B
September 12th: Convoy of 83 B
September 15th: Convoy of 186 B
September 24th : Convoy of 164 B
September 26th: Convoy of 218 A
September 27th: Convoy of 181
September 28th: Convoy of 155
September 29th: Convoy of 164
September 30th: Convoy of 232

October 1st: Convoy of 175
October 3rd: Convoy of 145
October 7th: Convoy of 167
October 10th: Convoy of 140 9:30pm
October 15th: Convoy of 104
October 23rd: Convoy of 209
October 29th: Convoy of 164
October 31st : Convoy of 197

November 21st : Evacuation of hospital
November 24th: Left 25th General for No 4 Ambulance Flotilla
Bob Bailey died in August 1986 aged 90.  His home and those other side of it, were demolished shortly afterwards to make way for a new road.

[1] Located at Camiers 15th May 1915 to 14th April 1919
[2] Located at Camiers 21st June 1915 to 8th January 1919

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