Serjeant 8739 James Bates

Bates James 96 415x600Bates James 96 392x600

Died of Wounds on Sunday, 24th March 1918, age 31.
Buried in Grave VII. B. 28. at Cambrai East Military Cemetery, Nord, France.

10th Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment. 57th Brigade of 19th Division.

Husband of Mrs Ada Bates, of 7, Lion Yard, Park Lane West, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Woodsetton, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 31st July 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the St. Matthew's, and Woodsetton memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/550722/

Genealogical Data

1891 Census
48 Regent Street, Woodsetton, Coseley, Staffs.
James Bates (35, Engine Driver, born Hurst Hill), his wife Mary Ann (36, born Swan Village), and their 5 children: Betsey (16, Helps at Home, born Swan Village), William (12, Scholar, born Swan Village), James (4, born Swan Village), John (1, born Swan Village), and Benjamin (1 month, born Swan Village).

1901 Census
2 George Street, Woodsetton, Coseley, Staffs.
James Bates (46, Engineer at a Brickworks, born Sedgley), his wife Mary Ann (47, born Sedgley), and their 4 children: James (14, born Sedgley), John (11, born Sedgley), Benjamin (10, born Sedgley), and Maria (7, born Sedgley).

Marriage of James Bates and Ada Holt registered in June quarter 1909 in Dudley.

1911 Census
18 & 19 Waterloo St, Tipton, Staffs. (probably as lodgers)
James Bates (24, Coal Miner Underground - Horse Driver, born Tipton), his wife Ada (19, born Tipton), and their 2 children: Sidney (1, born Tipton) and Alice (2 months, born Tipton).

Personal Data

James Bates volunteered for the Royal Warwicks in October 1914. He was a married man with a family of probably 5 children and was employed as a miner at Mr William Elwell's pit. After initial training, he landed in France on July 31st 1915 with the 10th Royal Warwicks in the 19th (Western) Division. James had been wounded in June 1916, and gassed in January 1918.

In the weeks before his death it was known that a major German offensive was about to be launched. Many men, including James, took the opportunity to write an informal will "in actual military service" which was recognised by the War Department as constituting a valid will. James wrote:
"In the event of my death I give the whole of my belongings to my wife Mrs Ada Bates, 7 Lion Yard, Park Lane West, Tipton, Staffs. Signed: James Bates, Sgt 10th Royal Warwicks, 13-3-18".

James was wounded in action on 23rd March 1918, and was reported as missing since that date. Some 7 months later in October 1918, the Tipton Herald reported that the Royal Warwicks Infantry Record Office had informed Ada of her husband's death: "which occurred in the field hospital, Cambrai, on the 24th March 1918. The report is to the effect that he dies from a gun-shot wound in the stomach and left arm, and was buried in the cemetery at Cambrai." It is likely that the Red Cross was the source of this report.

The October 1918 report in the Tipton Herald does not say that he died as a prisoner of war, but as there were no British field hospitals within 15 miles of Cambrai, there is no doubt. It is likely that James remained wounded on the battlefield as his comrades retreated, and was taken prisoner of war by the advancing German troops. He was evacuated by them back to a German hospital facility to the east of Cambrai, a distance of about 12 miles. Cambrai had been occupied by German forces in August 1914 and it remained in German hands until October 1918. James Bates died from his wounds on the 24th March, and is buried in Cambrai East Military Hospital.

This was confirmed by the following entry from the Red Cross Archive which had been provided by the German authorities (translated):
“Bates James.
Soldier Royal Warwickshire Regiment, “B” Company, 10th Battalion. Died 24-3-18, due to being shot in the stomach and left arm. In field hospital at Cambrai. Buried in cemetery in same place. Grave Number 0260.”

After James's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £5/4/7d (5 pounds, 4 shillings and 7 pence); this was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Ada, in February 1919. His War Gratuity was £19/0/0d (19 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his widow in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that James had enlisted in October 1914.

The Woodsetton (Swan Village) memorial incorrectly records his surname as Bate, he should be recorded as J Bates.

Action resulting in his death

On 21st March 1918, at the commencement of the German Spring Offensive (Operation Michael), the 10th Warwicks were near Barastre, some 3 miles south-east of Bapaume. The Germans advancing west along the Cambrai-Bapaume road took the villages of Louverval and Doignies; 57th Brigade was ordered to re-take the villages. 57th Brigade of 19th (Western) Division consisted of the 10th Royal Warwicks, 8th Gloucesters and 10th Worcesters.

On the 21st, Doignies was entered by the 8th Gloucesters but it could not be held; further British attacks followed on the 22nd but without success. The 10th Royal Warwicks had been holding trenches east of Beaumetz-les-Cambrai facing Doignies.

On the 23d March, after heavy German barrage fire, great waves of the German infantry advanced to attack from Doignies in the direction of Bapaume. Outnumbered, 57th Brigade began a fighting withdrawal. With the advancing Germans threatening to envelop 57th Brigade on both flanks, the battalion commanders decided to fall back to a railway embankment east of Velu. After midday, this new position was again almost surrounded and further defence was considered pointless. 57th Brigade withdrew by companies as best they could with the enemy pressing in upon them from three sides. The withdrawal continued for another mile until they reached trenches west of Beugny where other troops of 19th Division were able to stem the tide for the remainder of that day. One complete platoon of the 8th Gloucesters and one of the 10th Royal Warwicks had been cut off and overwhelmed.

Captain Julian Gribble of the 10th Royal Warwicks won the Victoria Cross on March 23rd, his citation reads:
"For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. Capt. Gribble was in command of the right company of the battalion when the enemy attacked, and his orders were to ' hold on to the last.' His company was eventually entirely isolated, though he could easily have withdrawn them at one period when the rest of the battalion on his left were driven back to a secondary position. His right flank was ' in the air,' owing to the withdrawal of all troops of a neighbouring division. By means of a runner to the company on his left rear he intimated his determination to hold on until other orders were received from battalion headquarters - and this he inspired his command to accomplish. His company was eventually surrounded by the enemy at close range, and he was seen fighting to the last. His subsequent fate is unknown. By his splendid example of grit, Capt. Gribble was materially instrumental in preventing for some hours the enemy obtaining a complete mastery of the crest of ridge, and by his magnificent self-sacrifice he enabled the remainder of his own brigade to be withdrawn, as well as another garrison and three batteries of field artillery." London Gazette, 25 June 1918.
Capt. Gribble was taken prisoner and died in Germany of his wounds, aged 21, on 25th November 1918.

James Bates was wounded on 23rd March and taken prisoner of war, possibly as the Germans surrounded Gribble's Company of the 10th Warwicks. He died at a German medical facility to the east of Cambrai, and is buried at Cambrai East Military Cemetery.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 22 July 1916
The following Tipton soldier is reported wounded:- Sergeant J. Bates of the Warwicks.

Tipton Herald 19 October 1918
Tipton Sergeant dies from wounds.
Buried at Cambrai
Mrs Bates, of 7 Lion Yard, Park Lane West, Tipton, has received the following from the Infantry Record Office, Warwick:- "Madam, It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has been received from the War Office notifying the death of Sergt. James Bates, 10th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which occurred in the field hospital, Cambrai, on the 24th March 1918. The report is to the effect that he dies from a gun-shot wound in the left arm, and was buried in the cemetery at Cambrai."
Sergeant Bates was 31 years of age. He enlisted in October 1914, and has been in France three times. He was wounded in June 1916, and gassed in January of this year. The deceased soldier had been reported wounded and missing since March 23rd. He leaves a widow and family. Before joining up, he was a miner in the employment of Mr William Elwell, and was greatly respected by his workmates and his many friends.