Walter George Bailey was born in Woodborough, Wiltshire, England, in 1861, the son of Thomas and Anna Bailey. In 1886, he married Rosina Aylward in Coventry, Warwickshire, and on the 23rd July 1887, the couple had a son, Albert Victor, who was born in Sevenoaks, Kent. By this time, Walter was working as a building or woodwork machinist. In 1891, his wife, Rosina, died.
In 1901, he married Jessie Annie Hanford in Shepshed, Leicestershire. The couple had one daughter, Ivy, who was born in 1900, a short time before Walter and Jessie married. The family home was at Finney Hill, Ashby Road, Shepshed, Leicestershire, and for a number of years, Walter Bailey was employed by Messrs. Messenger and Company of nearby, Loughborough.
In 1912, the family immigrated to Canada and settled at Fauquiers's Landing, Lower Arrow Lake, British Columbia, where Walter Bailey became a rancher. His son Albert V., who by this time was married with a son, Walter George, named after his grandfather, had immigrated to Canada in 1911, and perhaps on his recommendations, George, Jessie, and Ivy, decided to follow suit.
In the spring of 1915, however, the family decided to return to Leicestershire permanently and as a consequence booked second cabin passenger on the
Lusitania’s May sailing from New York to Liverpool. Consequently, the Bailey family left from Needles, British Columbia at the end of April and joined the liner at her berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour on the morning of 1st May 1915, in time for her scheduled 10.00 a.m. sailing.
This sailing was delayed until the afternoon as she had to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Liner
Cameronia, which had been requisitioned by the British Admiralty for war service as a troop ship, at the end of April. The
Lusitania finally left port just after mid-day and just six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May; she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20. At that point, she was twelve miles off the coast of southern Ireland and only 250 miles hours away from her Liverpool home port destination.
Neither he nor any of his family survived this sinking, nor were any of their bodies ever recovered and identified. Walter Bailey was aged 53 years when he died.
His brother-in-law, Mr. Charles Benjamin Hanford left Shepshed for Liverpool, on the morning of Friday, 7th May, to meet his family on the liner’s scheduled arrival there, the next day. Tragically, his appearance in the seaport would have coincided with the news of the liner’s sinking!
Charles Hanford later lodged a claim in Canada for compensation for the loss of the personal effects of the Bailey family, but this was unsuccessful.
Cunard records state that his Mr. Bailey’s first forename was William, but this was obviously an error.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1871 Census of England & Wales, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1901 Census of England & Wales, 1911 Census of England & Wales, Canadian Passenger Lists 1865 – 1935, Cunard Records, Jess Jenkins, Leicester Daily Mercury, Probate Records, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv D92/2/340, Canadian Claims Case No. 889, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly