Born in Port Douglas, William Bailey moved with family to Victoria where he was an orchardist before enlisting in January 1916, aged 19. He disembarked at Marseilles in June 1916 to join the battles on the Western Front. He joined the 22nd Battalion on 31 July then was wounded on 5th August - gun shot wound to the left thigh. He was hospitalised at Rouen and Etaples then rejoined the unit on 24th September 1916. He was wounded a second time in April 1918, this time with gunshot wounds to the right thigh and left foot. He was moved from Rouen hospital to hospitals in England then returned to Australia. He was discharged on 14 October 1918.