|Date of Birth
|March 18, 1897
|Place of Birth
|Smith Falls, Ontario
|Next of Kin
|Mrs. Charlotte Bailey (mother), Suite 21, McRae Block, Winnipeg, Manitoba
|Trade / Calling
|Royal Air Force (Canada)
|Enlisted / Conscripted
|Place of Enlistment
|Address at Enlistment
|Suite 21, McRae Block, Winnipeg, Manitoba
|Date of Enlistment
|January 10, 1918
|Age at Enlistment
|Theatre of Service
|Prisoner of War
|Date of Death
|September 1, 1918
|Age at Death
|Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Kenora, Ontario
|Lot 36, Range 15, East G1 (Hush Incline)
During the First World War aircraft technology was in its early stages and more pilots were killed during training and reconnaissance than in combat. Second Lieutenant Gerald Walton Bailey joined the Royal Flying Corps in January 1918 and eight months later he died in a training accident in Toronto.
Gerald was born on 18 March 1897 in Smiths Falls, Ontario, a small town halfway between Ottawa and Kingston. He was the only child of Thomas Bailey and his wife Charlotte Carnegie. At the time of the 1901 census Gerald and his mother were living in Keewatin, Ontario with his uncle John McPherson and two unmarried aunts, Elizabeth and Fanny Carnegie. John was a widow with eight children aged from 9 to 23. His wife Margaret (née Carnegie) had died in 1897, just after the birth of their twins. Both infants, a son and daughter, also died.
Gerald grew up in Keewatin and became a school teacher. In 1915 when he was 18 he got his first teaching job in the village of Moose Hill near Fort William, Ontario, where he taught for a year and a half. In the fall of 1917 he took a teaching position in Pinawa, Manitoba and he was there until December. Earlier that year the Royal Flying Corps had organized a pilot training program in Canada and recruiting centres were opened across Canada. Gerald enlisted on 10 January 1918 in Winnipeg. He was staying with his mother at the time, at Suite 21 McRae Block in Winnipeg, and he was sent to Toronto for his training. On 1 April 1918 the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service were amalgamated to form the Royal Air Force and Gerald was transferred to RAF (Canada) as a Pilot Cadet. He spent some time training at the School of Special Flying, which opened at the Armour Heights airfield in April. On 22 August he was given a commission as 2nd Lieutenant.
From the London Gazette, 8 October 1918, page 11864: ROYAL AIR FORCE: The undermentioned Cadets are granted temp. Commns. as 2nd Lts. (A.) :- 22nd Aug 1918. Gerald Walton Bailey.
On 1 September, ten days after his promotion, Gerald was killed in a flying accident at Armour Heights. An article in the Toronto Star on 4 September said he fell from his plane just before it glided into a tree. His death registration recorded the cause of death as a fractured skull. According to his RAF casualty card he was flying a Curtiss JN-4 (Canadian) and he was the only occupant in the aeroplane. The Curtiss JN-4 (Canadian) was a biplane developed in early 1917. It was the first aircraft to be mass-produced in Canada and it was used for military training in both Canada and the US.
Gerald’s funeral was held in Keewatin on 6 September at the home of William McPherson. The large crowd in attendance included veterans, boy scouts and two RAF members from Toronto, one of them Elphege Cardinal. After the service the funeral procession made its way to Kenora and Gerald was laid to rest in a flag-draped coffin in Lake of the Woods Cemetery. The Last Post was played in his honour.
Gerald’s father Thomas had died in 1902 when he was five years old. His mother Charlotte passed away in 1955 and she’s buried in Lake of the Woods Cemetery.
Gerald is commemorated on the Next of Kin Monument in Winnipeg and on the Lake of the Woods Milling Company plaque in Keewatin. The plaque honours staff and citizens who served in the Great War. At a ceremony in Keewatin on 4 August 1919 his family was presented with a medal in honour of his wartime service. It was inscribed: ‘He fought for freedom and honour. In commemoration of G. Bailey who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War 1914-1918. Presented Aug. 4/19.’
By Becky Johnson