Local Heritage

World War Two Veteran William Bailey

The life of World War Two veteran William Bailey was recently celebrated at a memorial service in Hungerford.

William Bailey, affectionately known as Billy by his children and grandchildren, passed away aged 93 years old on Thursday 15th March 2018. He spent his last 6 weeks less than a mile from where he was born almost a century ago, at Hungerford Care Home, where he was lovingly cared for by staff, and visited daily by family and friends.

Mr Bailey was born on the 20th December 1924 in a small cottage at Radley Bottom, Hungerford Newtown and was one of five siblings.

Later, the family moved to Hungerford and when William was only 18 years old he joined the Pioneer Corps to support the war efforts during World War Two. They fought through France, Belgium and Holland, and William became one of the first (and youngest) allied soldiers to liberate Belsen Concentration Camp in Northern Germany.

Mr Bailey married Edna in 1952 and together raised three children: Alan, Douglas and Sheila.

William was a country gentleman and enjoyed spending his time beating and walking his dogs. Local people enjoyed Mr Bailey’s homemade sloe gin and both he and his well-trained spaniels were highly thought of by the Hungerford Cricket Club, where his dogs would fetch the lost balls, saving many man hours.

In 2016, Mr Bailey was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by the French government for his role in the invasion of France in 1944. The award, dating back to 1802, was established by Napolean Bonaparte for acts of bravery.

In heartfelt speeches last Thursday, two of Mr Bailey’s granddaughters shared stories of their grandfather and his vibrant life. William’s youngest child Sheila said we had a beautiful celebration of my father’s life, and even the sun stayed shining for us. Sheila has recently celebrated her 40th Wedding Anniversary to her husband Martin, and fondly recalls visiting the cemetery with her father early on her wedding day to gather foliage for the church. William was laid to rest beside his wife Edna, and just across from his son Douglas.

The funeral was coordinated by Dianne Mackinder Funeral Services of Marlborough and the flowers supplied by Sarah Styles of Hungerford. The Wake was held at The Bear Hotel in Hungerford.

Leave a comment