The town of New Boston, New Hampshire has always been good at recognizing their heroes. They have plaques and memorials galore. They’ve included military events and participants in their history books. The New Boston Historical Society has a wonderful web site that includes a page on “New Boston in the Great War.” To see a photograph and transcription of the WWI monument (and others) in New Boston, see: Nutfield Genealogy: New Boston, New Hampshire Military Honor Roll.
At least three of the town’s young men did not return home after World War I ended. One of these was Burns Woodbury Bailey. He was born on 25 December 1892 in New Boston, son of Thomas W. & Alice M. (Stinson) Bailey. His father was a Scottish immigrant and his mother hailed from Goffstown. His family lived in New Boston from at least 1900 where Burns was living in the census of that year with his parents and siblings Craig Thomas, Helen C. (who m. Lucian H. Burns), twin brother Bruce William Bailey, and Hazel J. (who m. Arthur D. Eastman).
In the 1913 Manchester (NH) City Directory, Burns Bailey was working as a chauffeur and rooming at 98 Lowell Street. WWI Draft Registration form was completed in Boston MA and forwarded to New Boston NH. His residence was listed as New Boston, that he was 24 years old, and a demonstrator for Packard Motor Car Company in Boston, MA. He was single and described himself as being of medium height and stature with blue eyes and brown hair.
The U.S. Military Transport Passenger List shows that Burns W. Bailey sailed from New York City, New York on 3 May 1918 for Europe aboard the ship Megantic. He was a Private in Headquarter Troop, 4th Division Regular. His service number was 571976. While in Europe he served with the rank of Wagoner in Head Quarters Troop, Co B, U.S. Cavalry, 4th Division.
During World War I the role of the cavalry was changing from one of a fighting troop to surveillance and reconnaissance, especially on the European battlefields. The Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918 and I’m sure he celebrated along with his buddies. Then suddenly a little over a week later Burns was ill enough to be admitted to Evacuation Hospital No. 18 near Briey, France. He was there only 5 days when he died on 30 November 1918 of pneumonia. That following Christmas he would have turned 26 had he lived.
There seems to be some confusion over where Burns is buried. His “death certificate” registered in New Boston is actually a disinterment form. Normally it would show the location of most recent burial site. Instead it shows his first two burial places, 1) at Briey, France (the hospital) and 2) St. Mihiel, France the American Cemetery where some of battlefield remains were reburied. We know that the mortal remains of Burns W. Bailey were returned to the United States because his name appears on the U.S. Military Transport Record of the ship Wheaton that left Antwerp, Belgium and arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey on 2 July 1921. At the top of that list of names it shows: “Remains of Overseas Dead.” That leaves no doubt that Burns W. Bailey sleeps in his family plot in in Westlawn Cemetery, Goffstown NH.
The name Burns W. Bailey is inscribed on the Roll of Honor in Doric Hall, New Hampshire State House, and on the World War I monument in New Boston, New Hampshire.
[Editor’s Note: this story is part of an on-going series about heroic New Hampshire men and women of World War I. Look here for the entire listing].