BAILEY George Bewick 1897 – 1917


44786 Private George Bewick Bailey, 2/7th Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, was killed in action 17 August 1917 aged 20.  He is buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery, Belgium[1] and commemorated on Escomb War Memorial.

Family Details

George Bewick Bailey was born 1897[2] at Crook, the son of Richard and Mary Bailey. There were at least 5 children:[3]

  • George B. born 1897 at Crook
  • Isabella bc.1899 at Oakenshaw
  • John Arthur bc.1900 at Escomb
  • Laura bc.1903 at Escomb
  • Richard bc.1905 at Escomb

In 1901, the family lived at Escomb village where 27 years old Richard worked as a coal miner (hewer).[4]  By 1911, the family lived at Cross Row, Escomb and Richard was employed as a coal miner (hewer).[5]  At a later date, the family lived at 11 Francis Terrace, Cockton Hill, Bishop Auckland.[6]

Military Details

7 December 1915, aged 18 years 1 month, George Bailey attested, enlisting at Bishop Auckland.[7]  He joined the Army Reserve.[8] George stood 5’5½” tall.  His religion was Church of England.  At this time the family lived at Cross Row, Escomb and his father, Richard, was recorded as his next of kin.[9] 

26 April 1916:  He was mobilized and was posted to the 4th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry being given the service number 31874.  He served 1 year 178 days at home.  He was examined on this day at Sunderland and was 5’6” tall, weighed 140 lbs and his trade was recorded as, “Clothier’s Assistant”.[10]

3 June 1917: He entered France and was posted to 11/DLI.[11]

22 June 1917:  Private G.B. Bailey was transferred to the 2/7th Battalion, the Manchester Regiment, being given the service number 44786.[12]  The 2/7th Bn., the Manchester Regiment was formed in Manchester in August 1914 and was a second line unit.  It was placed under the command of 199th Brigade in the 66th Division.  It landed in France in February 1917.[13]

The Manchester Regiment cap badge

The battalion war diary confirms[14] that reinforcements were received as follows:

  • 20 June: 97 Other Ranks
  • 21 June: 54 ORs
  • 22 June: 140 ORs
  • 26 June: 130 ORs

By the 27 June, the battalion strength was 44 officers and 978 Other Ranks.  It was in training at Petite Synthe.

20 June – 11 November 1917: Operations on the Flanders Coast

and German Attacks on Nieuport [15]

By June 1917, the XV Corps of the Fourth Army which included the 1st 32nd and 66th (2nd West Lancashire) Divisions moved up to the Dunkirk area from the Somme to take part in “Operation Hush”.  These formations began intensive training for an amphibious landing along the coast.  The British plan, associated with the Third Battle of the Ypres to attack out of the Ypres Salient, take the Passchendaele Ridge then to sweep north to cut off the important German U Boat bases at Ostend, Zeebrugge and Bruges.  While the Germans focused on this battle, other British forces would:

  • land to the north of Nieuport on the Belgian Coast
  • breakout from the bridgehead across the Yser River at Nieuport
  • and link up with the amphibious landing

However, the Germans detected the British plans and the Marines Korps Flandern launched a pre-emptive attack known as, “Operation Strandfest”.  It was preceded by a 3-day artillery bombardment, fog and low cloud prevented detection of their build-up and the German attack of the 10 and 11 July 1917 was successful.  “Operation Hush” was ultimately cancelled as a result of this action.[16]

By 26 July, 2/7th Bn., the Manchesters was in the front line at Nieuport.  It had moved via Teteghem, Ghyvelde, Coxyde Bains to Camp Lefevre near Oost Dunnkerke Bains then onto Nieuport where they came under heavy shelling from the 26th onwards.  There were 49 casualties for the month, 12 killed, 35 wounded and 3 missing. 

1 – 3 August: The battalion manned in the Lombartzyde (left) sub sector and raided an enemy post, 2 August.  Casualties sustained over the 3-day period were 1 officer killed, 1 officer wounded, 15 Other Ranks killed, 46 wounded and 6 missing.

4 – 11 August: 2/7 Manchesters were then under canvas at St. Idesbald then occupied the Yorkshire Camp.

12 – 21 August: the battalion took over the line in Nieuport Bains (right) sub sector and immediately sustained 3 casualties, 1 officer and 3 other ranks wounded.  The war diary reported on the 17th, the following:

“Ration party shelled on way up to line Casualties 3 killed, 14 wounded.”

22 – 26 August: the battalion was relieved and went into billets at Coxyde Bains.

Private G.B. Bailey was killed in action 17 August 1917 and it is assumed that he was a casualty of enemy shelling as rations were being carried up the line.  The other 2 men killed in action that day were:[17]

  • 42388 Private W. Barton, aged 19 from Scunthorpe
  • 277191 Lance Corporal F. Torbet, aged 34 from Anglesey

Later research recorded that 2/7th Manchesters lost 31 Other Ranks killed in action or died of wounds between 26 July and 31 August 1917.[18]

Awards and Medals

Private George B. Bailey was awarded the Victory and British War medals.[19]

Medal Roll card index

Burial [20]

Private George B. Bailey is buried at grave reference II.J.25, Coxyde Military Cemetery, Koksijde, Veurne, West-Flanders, Belgium.  His headstone carries the following epitaph:

Only Those Who Have Loved And Lost

Know War’s Bitter Cost

Private George B. Bailey, Lance Corporal F. Torbet and Private W. Barton lie side by side.

The 3 Manchesters, side by side [21]

Effects and Pension

George B. Bailey’s father Richard received his effects [22] and pension.[23]



44786 Private George Bewick Bailey, 2/7th Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, was killed in action 17 August 1917 aged 20.  He is buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery, near Nieuport, Belgium.  George was born 1897 at Crook but by 1900 the family were at Escomb and later at Cockton Hill, Bishop Auckland.  George B. Bailey attested December 1915, was mobilized April 1916, entered France June 1917 and was transferred from 11/DLI to the Manchesters.  By 26 July they were in the front line at Nieuport on the Belgian coast.  About 3 weeks later, he was part of a ration party on their way up the line when they were hit by German shelling, 3 men were killed and 14 were wounded.  Private G.B. Bailey lies side by side with his stricken comrades Lance Corporal F. Torbat and Private W. Barton.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.248 Auckland 1897 Q2

[3] 1901 & 1911 census

[4] 1901 census

[5] 1911 census

[6] CWGC & Dependant’s Pension card index

[7] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[8] Statement of the Services

[9] Descriptive Report on Enlistment

[10] Medical History

[11] Military History Sheet & Statement of the Services

[12] SDGW and Army Form B.2512, Statement of the Services

[13] &

[14] 2/7th Battalion, The Manchester Regiment War Diary, June 1917 National Archive reference WO-95-3145-2

[15] Various sources including  &


[17] SDGW

[18] SDGW Note: details of officers are not given for 2/7th Bn., Manchester Regiment

[19] Medal Roll card index and Roll dated 24 June 1921

[20] CWGC

[21] Courtesy of Find a Grave website

[22] UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects 1901-1929 Record No.547912

[23] Dependant’s Pension card index