Corporal Samuel Bayley, DCM

Samuel Bayley was born in Stalybridge on June 10, 1885 to James and Sarah Bayley (née Gee). He was the youngest of three children, his two older sisters, Esther and Mary Ann being four and six years older than him respectively. Sam grew up in Stalybridge, on the border of Stalybridge and Dukinfield, and prior to the war he had lived in the same house since birth. By 1901 Sam had left school and was working as a piecer in a cotton mill while his father James Bayley was employed as a Carter.

His mother died in 1908 and around this time he joined the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment. By 1911 he was living with his widowed, and now out of work, father and his sister Esther (‘Esty’) and was still working as a piecer. Outside of work he was a member of the Ebenezer Particular Church, on Cross Leach Street, Stalybridge and a goalkeeper for the Sunday School football club.

Corporal Samuel Bayley, D.C.M.

At the outbreak of war, the battalion was mobilised and on August 20, 1914 they marched into Chesham Fold Camp, Bury. Throughout August around 100 new recruits were added, many of whom had previously served with the battalion in the pre-war years. On September 1, 1914 another 100+ men were added, many of whom were friends and family of the existing members of the battalion. On Wednesday September 9 the battalion entrained to Southampton and at midnight the following day sailed for Egypt. In Egypt the men were drilled, trained and worked hard to build fitness and endurance. Additionally, the old eight Company model (A-H) was replaced with a four Company model (A-D), 4 platoons in each Company and 4 sections in each platoon.

The battalion landed at Gallipoli under shell fire on Sunday May 9, 1915 and at that time Samuel Bayley was a 29-year-old Corporal with “A” Company, No 1 Platoon.

On August 8, 1915 the battalion took part in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard. Lieut. W.T. Forshaw won the Victoria Cross and three N.C.O.s won the Distinguished Conduct Medal. In Forshaw’s own words …

“On the morning of August 8th progress had been made along a sap parallel to a gully, and the whole of a trench which ran at right angles from each side of the saphead that had been captured and occupied. I and about twenty men were instructed to hold a barricade at the head of the sap. Facing us were three converging saps held by the Turks, who were making desperate efforts to retake this barricaded corner, and so cut off all the other men in the trench. The Turks attacked at frequent intervals along the three saps from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning, and they advanced into the open with the objective of storming the parapet. They were met by a combination of bombing and rifle fire, but the bomb was chief weapon used both by the Turks and ourselves”

“We just went at it without a pause while the Turks were attacking, and in the slack intervals I put more fuses into bombs. I cannot imagine how I escaped with only a bruise from a piece of shrapnel. It was miraculous. The Ashton men supported me magnificently. They adapted themselves very quickly to this method of fighting, and they stuck to the work doggedly, notwithstanding our loses. The attacks were very fierce at times, but only once did the Turks succeed in getting right up to the parapet. Three attempted to climb over, but I shot them with my revolver. On the Saturday evening a young officer came to the parapet and held up his hands, he seemed to be perfectly dazed, and we took him prisoner. All this time both our bomb throwing and shooting had been very effective, and many Turkish dead were in front of the parapet and in the saps. The attack was not continuous, of course, but we had to be on the watch all the time, and so it was impossible to get any sleep.”

At the end of 24 hours the Ashton men were relieved by a detachment drawn from other battalions, but Lieutenant Forshaw volunteered to continue to lead the resistance. His offer was accepted, and Corporal Bayley remained with him. More attacks were repulsed during the Sunday afternoon and night, and at the end of the struggle, Lieutenant Forshaw rejoined his battalion in condition of almost complete exhaustion. He was afterwards told that the number of bombs thrown by his men and two other detachments in the trench during the weekend was no fewer than 800.

“We decided that we would hold on to the position whatever it cost us for we knew what it meant to us. If we had lost it the whole of the trench would have fallen into the hands of the enemy. I had half of the men with me, and the other half I placed along the trench with a subaltern [2/Lt. C.E. Cooke]. The Turks were at it for all they were worth, and they had sap heads right up to my position; but I had a fine supply of bombs, which, by the way, had been made out of jam tins by our Engineers. Obliging little fellows, those Engineers! Fortunately, we had no fewer than 800 of those bombs, but we got rid of the lot during the greatest weekend I have ever spent.”

“Three times during the one night the Turks made tremendous efforts to get over the parapet, and once they succeeded, but not one of them got back again. We were too busy during the night to look after their dead bodies, but we found them lying at the bottom of the trench next morning. They were armed with rifles and bayonets, and huge men they were. Three of these big, dark-skinned warriors appeared. Immediately one made a move for a Corporal [Sam Bayley] who was digging a hole from which to fire during the night. I saw the Turk make for him with his long bayonet, and I straightaway put a bullet through him from my useful Colt revolver. My weapon was a very fine friend to me during those thrilling minutes. A second Turk came for me with his bayonet fixed, evidently with the object of covering his pal, who was making for the box of our bombs, but I managed to put them both out of action. They never came over the barricade again; but realising as they did what position meant, they kept up the fusillade during the whole of the night.”

Writing on August 10th Corporal Bayley described the Congratulatory Card he received from Sir John Francis Davies, commanding 8th Corps, (which he subsequently mailed to his sister Esty):

“We have had it rough again for two nights, but I am proud to tell you I am quite safe, although I have had many narrow escapes. I have the pleasure to tell you that I have had a bit of honour attached to my name. Myself, and a few men and the Captain held a trench which was almost impossible to hold, but we stuck it like glue, in spite of the Turks attacking us with bombs. I can tell you I accounted for a few Turks. Our Captain has been recommended for the V.C. and I hope he gets it because he was very determined to hold the trench till the last man was finished. But we did not lose many. Our Captain has not got over it yet, but it is only his nerves that are shattered a bit, and he will soon be with us again. I have been congratulated by Sir John Francis Davies, commanding the 8th Corps. You will find it enclosed.

“To No 180 Corpl. BAYLEY, 1/9th Manchester Regiment … I congratulate you heartily on being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for your gallant conduct in the field – Lieut. General Sir Francis Davies, commanding 8th Corps.”

A few months later, on November 16, 1915 the London Gazette published the following D.C.M. citation:

180 Corporal S. Bayley, 1/9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, T.F.

“For conspicuous bravery on the 7th and 9th August, 1915, at Cape Helles (Dardanelles). Corporal Bayley remained with Lieutenant Forshaw, V.C., holding a barricade for forty-one hours continuously. On the evening of the 8th August his party was relieved by another unit, but he volunteered to remain on. He displayed the greatest gallantry and endurance under the most trying circumstances in repelling many severe attacks, and when the barricade was at last broken through, he was the foremost in the successful counter-attack led by Lieutenant Forshaw, which regained it, and finally retained it. On being ultimately relieved he was utterly exhausted by his arduous and gallant work of bomb-throwing.”

And belatedly, on January 28, 1916, the London Gazette published the list of the names of the officers and men whose services General Sir Ian Hamilton wished to mention in connection with the operations described in my despatch of 11th December, 1915

Manchester Regiment (Territorial Force)
No. 180 Serjeant S. Bayley.

Additionally, for his actions at the Vineyard, he was awarded a field promotion to sergeant.

Since there is no surviving service record, there is no precise timeline of Sergeant Bayley’s subsequent movements but there are some things that can be reliably inferred. His medal roll does not list the six-digit service number that was assigned to each of the men in February 1917. However, his pension ledger index card does list this number (350018) and this strongly implies that by February 1917, when the six digit numbers were assigned, he was serving at home, probably with the 3/9th (Reserve) Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

On January 8, 1916 his sister Esty received a letter from him informing her that he was 10-days on a hospital ship after being wounded in both legs from bomb throwing around the middle of December. It is likely that these wounds led to him being repatriated and unable to subsequently serve overseas. He then would have served out the remainder of his time on home service in England, possibly in recruiting and other support functions.

To understand the end of his service it’s useful to review the surviving pension record of Sergeant Titus Knight Broadley Cropper. Sgt. Cropper was repatriated from Gallipoli suffering from dysentery and after recovering was deployed to the Regimental Command Depot at Heaton Park. He remained there for the duration of the war until he was transferred to the 8th (Reserve) Battalion, Manchester Regiment at Hunmanby, near Filey. On October 2, 1918 he was transferred to the 2/1st Shropshire Yeomanry, at the Curragh, County Kildare and given the service number 160758. Sergeant Bayley was transferred with him and was given the service number 160757. Sgt. Cropper was medically assessed at the Rath Camp, at the Curragh, on January 15, 1919 and was demobilised on February 22, 1919. It’s reasonable to assume that Sgt. Bayley followed a similar course and timeline.

Sgt. Bayley’s pension ledger index card shows that he applied for a disability pension but was rejected. As a D.C.M. recipient he was entitled to a flat payment of £20 or, if eligible for a disability pension, a weekly payment of 3sh 6d. Clearly, over time, the weekly pension was a financially better option and presumably this is at least partly why he applied for it.

After he was demobilised he married Alice Malinda Bowker, in Ashton, on September 4, 1920 and by this time he was working as a labourer at Broadbent & Sons Iron Foundry but prior to the marriage was still living with his sister Esty in Stalybridge, his father now deceased.

Samuel and his wife made their home in Stalybridge, next door but one to his old family home and his sister. But on August 22, 1924 Samuel Bayley, D.C.M. died suddenly at the age of 39 of chronic nephritis and secondarily from uraemia.