Wyndham History

Percy Robert Bayley (1878-1943)


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Percy Robert Bayley (1878-1943)




Wyndham City Libraries





World War One Veterans Item Type Metadata


Percy Robert Bayley

Birth Date

Service Number


Enlistment Date

Next of Kin

Esther Alice Bayley

Address at time of Enlistment

Watton Street,


Marital Status


Death Date

Place of Burial

Werribee Cemetery, Werribee

Biographical Text

No.18582  Percy Robert Bayley
Percy Robert Bayley was born on 6 December 1878 in Williamstown, Victoria to James Dadds and Mary Louisa Bayley (nee Cameron).  
He had three brothers:
  • James Edwin,
  • Ralph Hopetoun and
  • Alfred
and one sister
  • Mary Elizabeth
[A biography of Percy Robert Bayley's service as a local councillor can be found here]

His mother Mary Louisa died in 1919 at the age of 63 in Ballarat Victoria.  

Percy married Esther Alice Beamish at St. Thomas' Church Werribee, Victoria on 11 February 1903. Esther was born in Wyndham Victoria in 1875 and was a local to Werribee.
Bacchus Marsh Express, 14 February 1902, p.3.

They were to have eight children:
  • Myrtle Alice,
  • Percy Evelyn Matthew Beamish,
  • James Crispin Beamish,
  • John Beamish,
  • Lawrence Beamish,
  • Mary,
  • Yvonne and
  • Dorothy.

Pre War
Prior to the outbreak of the First World War, Percy Bayley had established himself as a successful business man, owning and operating a chemist shop in Werribee. He was also a councillor with Werribee Shire Council.

He was elected to represent Central Riding in 1912 and throughout his life, made a significant contribution to the development of the Werribee district, campaigning for electric street lighting, better sanitation, better train services to Melbourne, and a viable telephone service.

Percy Bayley also made the time to pursue his other passions – his commitment to St Thomas’ Church and the Anglican Synod of Melbourne, amateur theatricals, and the Werribee Mechanics Institute.

Re-elected to Council in 1914, he was approached two years later to accept the role of Shire President. However, with the war still raging in Europe and the Middle East, Percy Bayley enlisted in the AIF on 1 August 1917 at the age of 38.

War Service
Percy enlisted in the Army at Melbourne, Victoria on 1 August 1917. He was aged 38 years and 8 months old and he was 5 feet and 3 inches tall.  Percy weighed 101 pounds and had a chest measurement of twenty nine to thirty three inches.  His complexion was listed as fresh, with blue eyes and brown hair. Percy's next of kin was listed as his wife, Esther Alice Bayley of Watton Street, Werribee. All of this was recorded at the time of his enlistment.

On enlistment, he was immediately appointed Staff Sergeant and, by the end of his first month in the army, Staff Sergeant Dispenser.

Percy embarked at Melbourne on transport Persic 29 August 1917 and disembarked almost a month later at Durban to await trainsport to Bombay (now called Mumbai).  Percy was with the Australian Army Medical Corp and was a Sergeant.  

In addition to Bombay, he served at Deolali – a small hill town 160kms north-east of Bombay that was home to a major British Army Camp. He was then posted to Nainital, a hill station that sits in the foothills of the Himalayas, some 200 kilometres north-east of Delhi.

On 7 November 1917, he embarked at Durban on Caronia for India via Bombay.  He spent most of his service in India.  

He was promoted to Warrant Officer Class II on 30 October 1918.

Percy returned to Australia from Bombay on the Themistocles on the 15 January 1919, completing his duty.  On 25 March 1919 Percy was discharged.

Post War
On his return to Werribee, he not only resumed his interest in local affairs and the conduct of his chemist shop in Watton Street, but also found new outlets for his boundless energy.

He became the first President of the Returned Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Imperial League (RSSIL), Werribee sub-branch shortly after the war ended. In this role, he was a vociferous campaigner for the sanctity of Anzac Day.

He became Shire President of Werribee Shire Council in September 1921 and continued to serve his community with distinction.

Percy Bayley also became President of the Werribee Dramatic Club and the Werribee Mechanics Institute.

Through his role with the RSSIL, he set in position the foundation stone of the Diggers Road Memorial Hall in August 1924.

Throughout his public life, Percy Bayley was an inveterate correspondent, writing witty and pointed letters to newspapers in Melbourne to get his views across and ward off criticism from his would-be opponents.

According to electoral records, during the years from 1903 to 1924 Percy was living in Watton Street Werribee.

By the 1930s, he had withdrawn from many of his public offices, although he was still President of the Werribee Mechanics Institute in 1941.

In 1936 he was listed as living in Collingwood Street, Apollo Bay with his daughter, Myrtle Alice. In 1943, he is listed in 102 Union Streer, Fawkner by himself.  
From ancestry.com.au records, his wife Esther Alice Bayley died in April 1938 in Heidelberg, Victoria and was buried at the Werribee Cemetery.

Percy Robert Bayley died in a drowning accident on 29 August 1943, aged 64 in Apollo Bay, Victoria and was buried in the Werribee Cemetery.
The Argus, 30 August 1943, p.4.

Medals and Entitlements:
  • British War Medal - 27 October 1923


Army records http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/NameSearch https://www.aif.adfa.edu.au/search

Family records

Harvard/Australian citation
1903 'DOUBLE WEDDING.', The Bacchus Marsh Express (Vic. : 1866 - 1918), 14 February, p. 3, viewed 7 October, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article90581956
Harvard/Australian citation
1943 'Family Notices.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 31 August, p. 2, viewed 20 October, 2014, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11785078

Service record: NAA: B2455, Bayley P R

http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page7167815 - The Werribee Shire Banner, Thursday, 1 September 1921. Mr P.R. Bayley elected Shire President http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page588884 - The Argus, Tuesday, 26 April 1938. Death of Mrs Bayley, aged 55
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page624746 - The Argus, Tuesday, 31 August 1943. Death of Percy Robert Bayley at Apollo Bay.

Medals and Entitlements

British War Medal


“Percy Robert Bayley (1878-1943),” Wyndham History, accessed September 28, 2023, http://www.wyndhamhistory.net.au/items/show/1694.


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