Name: Charles William Bailey
Birth Place: Rye , New York
Birth Date: October 17, 1901
Service Start Date: 23 Nov 1917
Service Start Place: New York City, New York
Service Start Age: 18
Charles W. Bailey – A WWI Veterans Story
Charles W. Bailey a native of Rye was born October 17, 1901, son of Walter and Eliza-Jane Thomas Bailey. His father was a stone mason and born in Cold Springs NY and his mother who emigrated from England as a young girl was a Homemaker. Charles and his parents along with his older sister Edith lived on Purchase Street. Charles was educated in the Rye schools thru 8th grade and then went to work, which was not uncommon at the time. When the US entered WWI, shortly after his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the US Navy.
Charles enlisted on November 23, 1917 at the recruiting station in New York City and soon after began his training at the Naval Training Station in New Port, RI. After only 19 days as an apprentice seaman he was promoted seaman second class and briefly served on the USS Ticonderoga. Charles was then assigned to the USS Gorgona where he would serve throughout the war and obtain the rank of seaman first class.
The USS Gorgona was built in 1915 by the Staten Island Steam Boat Co., Staten Island, N.Y. she was commissioned 23 July 1917 at Portsmouth, VA., Ens. T. Gustav Freudendorf in command. After fitting out at Arundel Cove, Md., until 21 October. Gorgona served with the Atlantic Fleet out of Norfolk, with the hazardous duty of towing target rafts for fleet gunnery practice. She remained on this duty until 24 January 1919 when she sailed to Guantanamo, Cuba, where she towed target rafts for Battleship Forces 1 and 2. From there she sailed to New Orleans, towing two barges on her return, and on 5 April she departed Cuba for Norfolk.
Brief duty at New York, on the Potomac River torpedo range. and at Norfolk ended 4 June when Gorgona departed Hoboken, N.J., for the Panama Canal. Arriving at Coco Solo, C.Z., she decommissioned 20 June 1919 and was turned over to the Panama Canal authority.
Charles was discharged from service on February 3, 1919, returned to Rye and took up the work of his father as a stone mason. Ironically, the ship he had served on for the past year, the USS Gorgona, was named after one of three mythical sisters, Stheno Eurayle, and Medusa, with snaky hair, who turned the beholder to stone.
Post WWI and The Great Depression
Charles quickly settled back in to Rye and his work. He married Mary Ference on June 12, 1920 at the old St. Benedict's Home chapel on the Boston Post Road, now the site of the Rye Country Day School athletic field. They started a Family and had three sons Charles Jr. born in 1921, Walter in 1922, Robert in 1924 and a daughter Edith (named after her Aunt) in 1928.
In 1930 Charles and his family along with his parents and sister all resided at 164 Highland Road. During the depression era of the 1930’s, Charles continued his work as a stone-brick mason who worked as part of the WPA program. The WPA was an American New Deal agency, employing millions of job-seekers to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. Everybody worked at the Bailey house during these years, as the kids attended school, the adults found a way to provide. During this time Charles also found time to be a volunteer fireman and was a member of Poningoe Hook & Ladder Company of the Rye Fire Department.
In 1935, Charles and his family moved from Highland Road to 47 Cedar Street. In late July of that year Charles and Mary Bailey’s eleven year old son, Robert Joseph Bailey died at the United Hospital, following a lingering illness. He had been ill since December when compelled to discontinue his studies in Rye Grammar School. Robert was the Bailey’s youngest son.
Charles continued working and his three surviving children continued their studies in the Rye Schools. As the Great depression continued into 1938, Charles Jr., who had attended Rye High School, suspended his studies to help out the family and found employment at the Empire Brush Works in Port Chester.
By 1940 the family once again moved, this time to 508 Milton Road. During this period, the winds of war were once again stirring. In August, 1940 Charles son Walter, like his father, enlisted in the Navy, two month’ s after graduating Rye High School. With Both Charles Sr. and Charles Jr. working, Mary at home and Edith still in school, things were looking up for the Bailey’s. Then on December 7th 1941 the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor and The United States entered WWII and 10 years later the Korean War. Tragedy would follow the Bailey’s in both.
Like his father and brother, Charles Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Navy on January 16, 1942. He achieved the rank of Seaman First Class and was first received on board of the Light Cruiser, U.S.S. Juneau on February 14, 1942.
The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was effected by bad weather and confused communications. The battle occurred in near pitch darkness and at almost point-blank range as the ships of the two sides became intermingled.
At 1 a. m. on November 13, 1942 the U. S. S. Juneau was struck by a torpedo. While retreating for repair of the damages incurred the ship was struck by another torpedo at 11 a. m., broke into two and sank within 20 seconds.
Charles William Bailey, Jr. was aboard the U. S. S. Juneau during this epic and tragic sea battle. On the Juneau six hundred and eighty-seven sailors, including Charles Jr. and the five Sullivan brothers were killed. There were only ten survivors.
He was the second boy from Rye lost in the war and the second Bailey son to die.
Almost exactly 10 years later the Bailey’ would once again receive more tragic news.
“Walter Edmundson Bailey was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Bailey now of 18 Oakland Gardens, who has given his life for his country. An aviation boatswain's mate 3 c in the U.S. Navy, he was reported killed October 11 in the Korean area in a telegram from the Navy Department received by his parents.”
Aviation Boatswain's Mate Third Class Bailey was a member of the crew of the carrier USS KEARSARGE (CV-33). On October 11, 1952, the ship's helicopter, while being parked with rotors engaged, tipped over killing four crewmen and injuring six.
Aviation Boatswain's Mate Third Class Bailey was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Korean War Service Medal.
Walter had been serving his country for over 12 years. Charles and Mary Bailey had now lost their last son leaving them only Edith to help them thru their grief.
Charles wife Mary Bailey became president of the American War Mothers of Rye and president of the National War Mothers Association; and was, at the time of her death in 1972 the corresponding secretary of the Rye chapter. She was a member of the American Gold Star War Mothers and the Senior Citizens of Rye. She spent many years as a volunteer at the Montrose Veterans Hospital in Montrose, NY.
His daughter Edith Bailey would marry William Fitzgerald and have six children. She would go on to be an accomplished golfer and bowler, living most of her life in Rye and raising her family on 10 Chamberlain St.. Edith passed away September 6th, 2006 in Sarasota FL.
CHARLES W. BAILEY Funeral services were held at the Hill Funeral Home, Inc., on Friday December 20th, 1968.
“Charles W. Bailey, 67, of 18 Garden Drive, who died Tuesday morning at United Hospital. Interment will be Greenwood Union Cemetery. A native of Rye, Mr. Bailey was born October 17, 1901, son of the late Walter and Eliza-Jane Thomas Bailey. He was a WWI veteran and educated in the Rye schools. He was the father of the late Charles W. Bailey Jr., who died in World War II and the late Walter E. Bailey who was killed in the Korean War. Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Mary Ference Bailey, one daughter, Mrs. Edith M. Fitzgerald of Rye, 4 grandsons and 2 granddaughters.”
An argument could be made that no Rye family has sacrificed as much as the Bailey’s in the service of their country.