1922 - 1940
GEORGE WILLIAM BAINBRIDGE (known as ‘BILLY’) was born on the 5 September 1922 at Howe Street, Great Waltham, the first child of George and Kate Emma Bainbridge (née Wicks), who were married at The Registry Office, Chelmsford on the 10 December 1921. George was a widower at the time of his marriage. Kate, already had one daughter, Dorothy Jean Wicks, born 3 February 1919, before she married George.
George’s first wife was Emma Mary Sorrell and they married in 1916 in Chelmsford had two children, Sydney Arthur George, born 30 April 1916 in Chelmsford and Vera May, born 10 May 1918 at Howe Street, Great Waltham. Emma died in December 1918 and her funeral was held at the Parish Church, Great Waltham on the 21 December. She was 24 years old and the family were living at 4 Regina Road, Chelmsford at the time of her death. George’s occupation was given as a ‘turret lathe operator’.
Kate and George had three further children, Barbara Marguerita, born 6 December 1926, Olive Beatrice, born 25 May 1928 and David Stephen (known as ‘Bobby;) born 20 May 1930.
BAPTISM GEORGE WILLIAM BAINBRIDGE 12 NOVEMBER 1922
George was baptised when he was three months old, in the Parish Church at Great Waltham on the 12 November 1922.
He attended the village school. There is one record of Punishment in the School records of ‘misbehaviour’ on the 17 November 1932, when he was ten years old and he was given two strokes of the cane on his hand by M C Elliott, a teacher.
George enlisted as a ‘Boy’, on the 22 June 1937 into the Territorial Army, the 5th Battalion Essex Regiment, Regimental No. 6012447, for four years’ service at Chelmsford. He gave his employment as a ‘Grinder’ and falsely stated the year of his birth as 1920 and aged 16 years, although he was actually only 14 years and 9 months old. He had blue eyes and auburn coloured hair and was 5ft 6 inches tall. He was attested for training as a Signaller and approved and posted on the 26 June.
On the 5 September 1937 he was found physically fit for service and promoted to the rank of Private. On the 22 February 1939 after serving 1 year and 246 days, he was discharged, having enlisted into the Regular Army (Cavalry of the Line) Para 204 (15) TA Regiment.
The Regular Army Attestation states he was 18 years old (he was actually 16 years old) and a labourer when he enlisted the following day, the 23 February 1939 at Chelmsford. By now he was 5ft 9¼” tall.
He was posted to the Mechanical Car Depot and on the 11 April transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps. He passed his 2nd Class Army Certificate of Education (Distinguished in Map Reading) on the 13 August. On the 4 October he was posted to the 51st, then on the 13th, to the ‘B’ Squadron, 1st Lothian and Border Horse Regiment as a Trooper. He was granted a weekend leave from the 18 – 19 November with the Royal Artillery (RA) and from the 10 – 16 December he was attached to the Armoured Fighting Vehicle Ranges (RFV) at Castlemartin in Pembroke, Wales. From the 21 December to the 2 January 1940 he returned to the RA.
BILLY WITH HIS PARENTS GEORGE AND KATE
On the 11 January 1940 he embarked from Southampton with the British Expeditionary Forces arriving at Le Havre the following day.
The Regiment had been involved in holding the west of France with the 51st Highland Division. The 51st had held the rivers from the Somme on each successive day from the 4 June 1940 and had received word that the Germans had potentially cut off any further advance. The Lothians were ordered to reconnoitre the Durdent River and found German troops at Cany Bridge and in Veulettes and that the bridges between Cany and Veulettes had been destroyed. An attack at Cany by the Lothians pushed the Germans back for the loss of two tanks.