The O'Leary Collection—Medals of The Royal Canadian Regiment

437213 Private John Charles Bailey

1st Canadian Infantry Battalion

By: Capt (ret'd) Michael M. O'Leary, CD, The RCR

John Charles Bailey was born at Calabogie, Ontario, on 11 Jan 1890. The son of Richard and Lilian Bailey, the family is listed in the 1911 Canadian census. The census shows that Charles is the third child and oldest son of eight children. Twenty-one year old Charles is listed in the Census with siblings Beatrice (24), Laurel (23), Charles (21), Gordon (13), Grace (10), Frances (8), and Muriel (3).

On 13 May 1915, while claiming to be two years younger than his actual age, Bailey attests for overseas service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He joined the 51st Canadian Infantry Battalion which was being recruited at Edmonton, Alberta. On attestation, he gives his name simply as Charles Bailey. At a stated age of 23 years 4 months, he was described during his medical inspection as 5 feet 6 inches tall, 140 pounds, and with a 36 inch chest measurement. A Presbyterian, Bailey listed his mother, Mrs Richard Bailey, as his next of kin.

With the 51st Battalion, Bailey sailed from Halifax aboard the S.S. Olympic on 18 Apr 1916. The unit disembarked at Liverpool, England, on 28 Apr 1916 and would become part of the C.E.F. reinforcement system. The 51st Battalion would provide troops for the Canadian Corps in the field, and be reorganized as a garrison duty battalion on 13 Nov 1916. Finally, on 22 Jun 1917, its personnel would be absorbed by the various regimental depots.

Charles Bailey would be in an early draft of men leaving the 51st Battalion. On 8 Jun 1916, Bailey was struck off the strength of the 51st Battalion and immediately proceeded "overseas" across the Channel to France. Two days prior, on 6 Jun 1916 as part of his preparations to go to France, Bailey completed the Military Will in his Pay Book. It reads: "In the event of my death, I give the whole of my property and effects to my father, Richard Bailey, Calabogie, Ontario."

On 9 Jun 1916, the day after landing in France, Bailey was taken on the strength of the 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion, joining the draft for the Battalion at the Canadian Base Depot. He joined the 1st Battalion in the field on 11 Jun 1916.

The 1st Battalion's "Battle Bar Document" (prepared after the war by the Militia Department in anticipation of the possibility of clasps for the British War Medal) offers the following summary of activities for Bailey's time at the front: