|Lieutenant William Sharpe Baillie|
Details of Service:
William Sharpe Baillie was living in Montreal when he attested with 5 CMR on 12 April 1915. However, after 68 days, Private Baillie purchased his discharge while training in Valcartier. On the 07 February 1916, William Baillie attested with the 117th Battalion and was commissioned as a Lieutenant. He sailed to England with the 117th Battalion on 14 August 1916.
On 02 December 1916, Lt Baillie was transferred to the 87th Battalion and proceeded to France on 06 December where he joined the unit in the trenches.
On 04 June 1917, Lt Baillie was evacuated from the trenches suffering from scabies, boils, seborrhea and dermatitis. He was granted 14 days leave and rejoined the unit on 14 July 1917. He remained with the 87th Battalion until 13 May 1918 when died after being accidentally struck by a light train near Mingoval, France. An inquiry into his death followed. The highlights of the inquiry are as follows:
The 87th Battalion had arrived at Mingoval from the line about 1000hrs on 08 May 1918. Lt Baillie's company was billeted at Bethonsart, nearby Mingoval. On 09 May, at 1800hrs, Lt Baillie met up with Lts Telfer and Doble, and Capt Edmiston and left Mingoval for dinner at the Officer's Club at Aubigny. The above named officers had left the club around midnight to return to Mingoval. The two Lts and the Capt noticed that Lt Baillie appeared to be feeling the effects of the alcohol he consumed. The group was heading back to Mingoval when Lt Baillie decided to turn around and head back to Aubigny. The three others tried to follow and find Lt Baillie, however they were unable to find him and he did not answer to his name when they called for him. The three officers returned to Mingoval around 0200hrs on the 10 May, without Lt Baillie. During the inquiry all three officers testified they stopped looking for Lt Baillie as they felt he had taken a short cut to Bethonsart.
Lt Baillie was found at 0400hrs on 10 May by Sapper Dobinson who was riding on an ammunition train. He noticed something lying in the ditch and stopped the train. Lt Baillie was conscious but suffering from a severe concussion, injured shoulders and feet. He was, however, able to communicate with the Sapper and told him he was with the 87th Battalion Canadians. Sapper Shadwell, who helped administer first aid testified that Lt Baillie "was quite conscious and seemed in his correct state of mind."
On the morning of 10 May, Lt Baillie was operated on to remove the toes from both feet. It was also confirmed that he was suffering from pneumonia due to exposure during the hours he lay in the ditch. Majors Isaac and Scawin both with RAMC only treated him for pneumonia and his surgical injuries. A post mordem found that Lt Baillie was suffering from severe liver and abdomen injuries causing internal bleeding.
The inquiry, whose members included Major Ryan 102nd Battalion, Major Bailey 54th Battalion, Capt Knight 102nd Battalion, Capt Harlson 75th Battalion, concluded the inquiry on 31 May 1918. They found that the cause of Lt Baillie's death was from injuries received from being hit by the train and that Lt Baillie was still drunk when struck by the train.
Although the witnesses were not found at fault, they did not escape the wrath of the 11th Canadian Infantry Brigade Commander, BGen Oldum. He wrote a scathing letter instructing that Lts Telfer and Doble, and Capt Edmiston "be paraded before a general officer and warned of the seriousness of the position in which they have put themselves." Also stated was that "the company commander be similarly paraded and warned of the responsibility he assumed when he gave all his officers permission to be away, and for taking no action when they were so late in returning." And finally stated was that "the battalion commander (Major Ralston) be paraded and instructed that authority to grant leave to be absent from camp must not be so freely delegated; that it is a matter that must be kept under control of the battalion commander."