Bailey, Fred

Birth Date

1st December 1893





Biographical Text

Fred Bailey was just 22 when he was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916. He played for Exeter City reserves from around 1911 before having two seasons with Babbacombe. His final appearance in the colours of Exeter City came in a Christmas 1915 game played in aid of war funds. Although he did not play for the first team, he is recorded in this section of the archive in common with all thirteen Exeter City players who lost their lives in events related to the conflict of 1914-18.    

He had started to make a name for himself as a 17-year-old amateur playing for Exeter City reserves during the 1910/11 season. After a promising 1911/12 campaign, Fred moved to Babbacombe (one of the current Torquay United's predecessor clubs) shortly after the start of the following season and remained there until the end of 1913/14 playing in attack with future Grecian Tommy Townsend in the Plymouth and District League. Being in and around St James' Park during those years he would have encountered the various members of the generation of City’s amateurs who were to perish in the Great War: Edwin Clark, Fred Hunt, Billy Stoneman, John Webb and George White.  

Keen to enlist on the outbreak of the Great War, he became part of the 24th Field Ambulance Regiment of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Reappearing for City's reserves when home on leave during 1914/15 Fred himself was injured from gunshot wounds in 1915. Later, after recovering at home, he played a final match at St James' Park on 27 December 1915 when CIty played a Combined Batteries XI in aid of war funds.  

Fred returned to the front and was killed on the first day of the Somme on 1 July 1916 by a shell while helping to convey a wounded man along a trench.

For more information about Fred Bailey’s war service and death see his entry in the Killed in Action section of the Archive

[Fred should not be confused with another 'Bailey' who, after playing for St Sidwell's United, made a solitary appearance for Exeter City's first team during 1904/05. That would be an older player, and possibly another Fred Bailey, born around ten years before the namesake who perished at the Somme].     



David West

Hi, Fred Bailey was my Great Uncle. Fred was born in 1894. You mention that he played for Exeter in 1904/5 - Fred would only have been 10-11 years old ? Are you sure about the year(s) he played for the club ?



David West

I have Fredericks medals & dogtags as well as his Memorial Plaque or "Death Penny" as it was known. Frederick is remembered on the 24th Field Ambulance plaque in the Cathedral, also in his local Church in Heavitree, on the War Memorial at Exmouth, and one other place in Exmouth that i can´t remember. He will always be remembered in our family, my Great Aunt visited Freds grave in 1926, my late Father visited the grave in 1956 and i plan to visit "before i shuffle off my mortal coil".

lest we forget.

David West

I know that Fred was born at 56 Sandford Rd, Newtown, Exeter. His Father, Robert Henry Bailey was at this time, a "Letter Carrier" (Postman), his Mother Annie Bailey was a Milliner (hatmaker) in Exeter. The family grew in size and moved to a larger house at 28 Mansfield Rd, the family moved again and found a house at 9 Priory Rd. At the time of the 1911 census the family was Robert Henry Bailey, born 1865... his wife Annie Bailey, born 1867 -  the children were Lucy born 1892, Frederick born 1894, Charles born 1898, Florence Winifred born 1901, Beatrice born 1905 & Vera born 1908. Robert Henry Bailey ended his carrier as an Inspector of Postmen in Exeter in 1925 and he was awarded a medal from the King for long service to the Post Office (which i also have in my colection)  Robert died in 1946, and Annie died in 1949 both passed in St Austell, Cornwall.

Jon Gibbes

Fred scored a lot of goals for Babbacombe 1912-1914, playing alongside Tommy Townsend who played for City after the war.

Paul Farley

Thank you David, I was in error and we have changed the entry, do you have any other information about Fred. There is a plaque with all those killed in action in our memorial garden at the club

Paul Farley

Thank you Jon! 

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