Alice Eileen Bailey had been born only a fortnight or so earlier than her husband. As she was known as Eileen to the family, I’ll henceforth refer to her as such. Her baptism record, available on Ancestry.co.uk, shows that she was baptised on the very same day that Lonsdale was born. Her parents were noted as Arthur and Alice, and the family lived at 23 Crogsland Road at the time, not far from Camden Market. Interestingly, Arthur was a compositor (setting type for print), so Tracey has print in her blood!
Like Lonsdale, Eileen was born too recently to appear on any open census records – the 1921 census is due for release in 2022. However, we can take a peek at her parents in 1911 (a year before their marriage). Eileen’s father Arthur was a first-generation Londoner, his parents hailing from Staffordshire and Cheshire. Their home, 39 Belmont Street, had four rooms (minus the usual exceptions) and four occupants, so it was perhaps less crowded than Mark’s ancestors’ home (featured yesterday in Stourbridge) had been. As for Eileen’s mother Alice, there is a possibility that she was a barmaid in 1911 at a pub that is still in operation, but further research is needed to firm up conclusions.
Eileen’s parents were married on 7 September Quarter 1912 at Holy Trinity, Haverstock Hill – the same church in which Eileen was later baptised. They used Arthur’s parents’ address of 39 Belmont Street, and the certificate confirms that Eileen’s paternal grandmother was Henry Bailey, an ‘engine man’ (the 1911 census says this was for the London North Western Railway). Her maternal grandfather was Henry James, a retired R M A Colour Sergeant. The RMA was the Royal Marine Artillery; it was amalgamated with the Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI) in 1923 to form a single Royal Marine Corps.
Eileen was the oldest child and went on to have several siblings all registered in Pancras Registration District, suggesting she grew up in the capital before moving a few miles east to Ilford in Essex – to a semi-detached home that still exists.
Fast-forwarding to the outbreak of the Second World War, we can find the family in the 1939 Register. At 53, Dunkeld Road, Ilford, lived Arthur, his wife Alice (performing ‘Unpaid Domestic Duties’ – a prevalent description for women in 1939) and some of their children: Arthur H J Bailey, Alice E Bailey (our Eileen) and Denis G Bailey. Arthur junior was a factory labourer; Denis was still at school. As for Eileen, at this point in her life, she was a ‘printer’s warehouse examiner’, strengthening further Tracey’s print connections!
At this point, the wartime paper trail gets harder to follow. Tracey’s sketch of her in uniform backs up the family’s knowledge that she was a nurse, and the image shows her in ward dress rather than battle dress. It is believed that Eileen was part of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS). Members of QAIMNS found themselves serving all over the world – including Burma. QAIMNS became Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) in 1949.
Eileen and Lonsdale didn’t meet in Burma, though. The family know that they were pen pals – Eileen was one of many encouraged to write to troops abroad. The story told is that Lonsdale had two pen pals – and that he chose Eileen!
Second Word War nursing records are still retained by the Ministry of Defence, similarly to the records of World War Two soldiers. The same link given above for Lonsdale would enable Tracey or another member of her family to request surviving records.
As we know already, the couple were married in 1944 and therefore they had not been married long by the time VE Day came along on 8 May 1945. Was Lonsdale on leave from a short time only, and married while home, only to be posted abroad again? His service record may hold the answers. His Battalion was certainly on active duty beyond Victory In Europe Day.
Thanks so much to Tracey for sharing some family treasures relating to grandparents who – in her own words – she adored, and only has good memories of.
Again, full citations can be provided. Tomorrow, we will publish the final post, investigating the story behind one last photograph.