John Cyril Bailey

"It got in deep water, where it would have drowned, had not Sergt. Bailey...swum to it and...succeeded in cutting it loose, thus saving it's life.”

As a young man, John Cyril Bailey was a champion swimmer in his native England. He was also an expert horseman. Both skills served him well on the night of April 13, 1918, when he plunged into deep water to save a panicking horse from drowning—and an act of courage that earned him a commendation.

It began when a horse pulling a mess cart blundered in the darkness into a deep watering pond.

“The horse became unmanageable, upset the cart, threw out the occupants, and, falling on its side, entangled itself in the reins and harness. It got in very deep water, where it would have drowned, had not Sergt. Bailey, at considerable personal risk, swum to it and in spite of its struggles, succeeded in cutting it loose, thus undoubtedly saving its life.”

Bailey enlisted on November 10, 1915, in Esquimalt, British Columbia, leaving behind his wife Florence and four daughters. He was 34 at the time.

By 1918, he had risen to the rank of Sergeant Major with the 17th Battery, 2nd Canadian Divisional Artillery.

Bailey survived the war and returned home to Vancouver Island, where he later worked as a teamster and riding instructor. Bailey died in 1950. His obituary mentioned that he had been “a great lover of animals” whose “veterinary skill found much employment among the pets of the district.”

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