Robert Victor Bailiff
Date of birth: 1896
Date of death: 1924
Regiment: King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of John and Ellen Bailiff
Service number: 23153
Robert Victor was enlisted in the Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) – Service no. 23153.
Unfortunately the records available do not indicate which battalion he was placed with so this makes it very difficult to outline the movements and actions that he may have been involved in.
Having been awarded the 1915 Star with a ‘qualifying’ date of 7/7/1915 for entering the ‘theatre of war’ in France does offer a clue. The most likely battalion would have been the 6th (Service) which was formed at Pontefract on 12 August 1914 as part of K1 and attached to 43rd Brigade in 14th (Light) Division. They moved initially to Woking and on to Witley in November 1914. Then to Aldershot in February 1915.
On the 21st of May 1915 they landed at Boulogne.
Other regiments e.g. 7th and 8th (Service) were also posted to France but after the ‘qualifying’ date mentioned above.
The Division came into existence as a result of Army Order No. 324, issued on 21 August 1914, which authorised the formation of the six new Divisions of K1. It was formed of volunteers. At first it was numbered the 8th (Light) Division, but as more regular army units became available to create a Division, they were given precedence and this was renumbered as the 14th (Light) Division. Initially without equipment or arms of any kind, the recruits were judged to be ready by May 1915, although its move to the fighting front was delayed by lack of rifle and artillery ammunition. The 14th (Light) Division served on the Western Front throughout the war. It took part in the following engagements:
The Action of Hooge, in which the Division had the misfortune to be the first to be attacked by flamethrower.
The Second Attack on Bellewaarde.
On 25th September 1915 the Battle for Loos was begun in the north of France. This had been planned as a massive set piece action by the British who would use gas for the first time. As part of a number of feints elsewhere it had been decided that V Corps in Belgium would launch an attack on the Bellewaarde Ridge at Hooge.
It could perhaps be said that this was not a serious attempt to break the German line. Artillery ammunition was limited as the guns at Loos were in the middle of the heaviest bombardment they had ever put down. In addition there would be no reserves available.
But, the commanders thought, it might distract the enemy and who knows it just might succeed and we could gain more ground than we were expecting.
With the attack at Loos ready to be launched at 0630 hours, Zero Hour at Bellewaarde was set at 0420 hours.
Zero was marked by the detonation of two pairs of mines under the German positions to the north of Hooge.
Along the main road 3rd Division made some progress, quickly gaining the German front line, but that would be as far as they got as German artillery pinned them down.
To the north on Bellewaarde Ridge the 14th Light Division also made good progress and in some places reached the German support trenches. Attempts, though, to try and bomb their way towards other sections of the trenches to complete the success were thwarted by the severity of the German counter attack.
By evening the only gain had been one of the craters created that morning.
The Official History states:
...subsidiary attacks had thus ended with the assaulting troops back in their original trenches, mainly because the British hand-grenades were inferior in both quality and number to those of the enemy. No German reinforcements other than their local supports had been required to meet them and therefore had not the desired influence on the main battle south of the La Bassée canal.
On the7th May 1916 Robert Victor was discharged from the Army. His Medal Index card states that he was on the SWB (Silver War Medal) List. (For a full description of this see the account for John Kelly Bailiff). This indicates that he was wounded and most certainly the reason for his discharge but there is no clue as to where or when his injury might have been inflicted.
Robert Victor probably returned to his family in Brotherton after discharge and seems to have migrated South with his family in the early 1920’s. Unfortunately he is recorded as having died in the Eton area in 1924.