New Hampshire WWI Military: Wagoner Burns Woodbury Bailey of New Boston

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].

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7 Responses to New Hampshire WWI Military: Wagoner Burns Woodbury Bailey of New Boston

  1. Pingback: New Hampshire World War I Military: Heroes of The Great War | Cow Hampshire

  2. Amy says:

    How sad to die soon before he would have returned home. To survive the war and then die of illness seems so unfair.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Amy, yes that part is unfair and sad. I’ve researched people who fought and lived through the most ferocious battles of the war, saw the most terrible things, and then died after the Armistice of the flu. The flu killed more than battle or injury did. The same on the local front. The influenza was a terrible pandemic and it wiped out entire families. No wonder people wanted to forget this era.


      • Amy says:

        It was one of the revelations I had when I started researching. I’d heard of the flu epidemic, but once I saw how it affected so many of my relatives, I realized for the first time just how wide its impact was. Same with TB. Thank goodness for modern medicine.

        • Janice Brown says:

          Well, to be honest, there is no real cure for influenza. The inoculations that are given out each year are for predicted variants of the flu, but there are still deadly outbreaks, and the world could still face one as bad, if not worse, again. The best thing to do is to avoid people during flu season, and wash your hands ALOT.

  3. Dan Rothman says:

    Janice, I thank you again for all your good work on this blog!

    My wife Lisa is reading the daily diary of Ellen Orinda Lamson Dodge of New Boston.
    The entry for Friday, August 5, 1921 includes:
    “Will, Cora, and I went over Burns Bailey’s funeral this afternoon.”

    Lisa wondered why Burns, who died in 1918, was buried in 1921, and of course your blog has the answer!

    Dan Rothman, New Boston Historical Society volunteer

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