Ernest Bailey was the son of Chriss and Cassie Bailey of Clear Fork, Wyoming County, West Virginia. He grew up in the close-knit Wyoming County community with his six brothers, Fellt, Glen, Seth, Ralph, French, and Ray, and three sisters, Thelma, Gladys, and Anthy. Ernest's father died when he was younger, and his mother, who had suffered for many months with dropsy, passed away just two weeks before the family learned of his death.
Ernest was among the first of Wyoming County's young men to be inducted into the service, and he enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces. He was sent overseas to the Pacific to serve in the Philippines as a private with the 698th Ordinance Company, Aviation. He proudly served during the Japanese assault on the islands in 1941-1942, but he was captured as a prisoner of war when the islands fell into the hands of the Japanese and the troops were forced to surrender in May, 1942.
Ernest was held as a prisoner of war in the Philippines for two years. While being transported to Japan on the Arisan Maru, Ernest lost his life on October 24, 1944 when the unmarked ship was torpedoed by an Allied submarine in the South China Sea. His death was received by the War Department on June 16, 1945.
Ernest was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and his body was buried at sea. In recognition of his honorable service in World War II, and for his ultimate sacrifice, Ernest Bailey's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, and Ernest's was one of the original names inscribed on the West Virginia Veterans Memorial.
Hellships of World War II
West Virginia Veterans Memorial Archives Database
West Virginia Archives and History