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Harry Bates

Rank: Private

Lifetime: 1893-1916

Reference: G5193


Private Harry Bates

Private Harry Bates was born at 7 Park Cottages, Walpole Road, Teddington on 8 July 1893 the youngest son of John and Mary Amelia Bates. Just days before his 23rd birthday, he was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916. He has no known grave so his death is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Information on Banstead War Memorial on-line
website tells us that Harry was baptised at St Peter & St Paul Church, Teddington on 13 August 1893. His father, John Bates, is described as a farrier/blacksmith. Harry had two older brothers, George and Albert, and one sister called Caroline (Kit). In 1901 the family lived at 6 Cranmer Rd, Teddington. His father had his own blacksmith business employing his eldest son George (19). Kit (16) was employed as a draper’s assistant. Albert (13) and Harry (7) were still at school.

According to family records contained on the Banstead War Memorial site (where Private Harry Bates is also commemorated), Kit remembered pushing Harry in his pram in 1894 in Richmond Park for the celebrations of the birth of Prince Edward. Apparently his father bought a goat for five shillings and Harry’s brothers built a carriage for the goat to pull. Kit’s husband who was an illustrator for Fulham and Arsenal Football Clubs drew pictures of young Harry which appeared on programmes for the clubs and which can be viewed on the website for the Banstead War Memorial.

The family had moved to 100 Stanley Gardens Road, Teddington by 1911 when the next Census was completed. Harry’s older brother, Albert, was now working in the family business as a blacksmith. Harry was employed as a fishmonger’s assistant. George and Kit had left home.

According to family records, Harry’s sister, Kit, married Will Tree, a house painter in 1909 and had a daughter, Violet in 1911. Harry lived with his sister and brother-in-law and so moved with them when the family relocated to Banstead. Harry became apprenticed to a local carpenter and joiner, Alec Rogers , and stayed in Banstead with Kit at least until Christmas 1914.

Thereafter, either the end of his apprenticeship or the arrival of Kit’s second daughter, Dorothy, prompted Harry to moved back to this area. Aged 21, on 22 March 1915, Harry enlisted at Kingston and joined the 2nd Battalion of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment (G5193). At the date of his enlistment he gave his address as 71 High Street Hampton Wick where his elder brother, Albert, was living. We know from his enlistment records that he had a slight frame with a 34” chest weighing 111lbs and was only 5’ 1¾” tall! The Banstead War Memorial site has a picture of Harry supplied by members of the family which is reproduced on this site with their kind permission.

After training, Harry was sent to France on 13 July 1915 in time to fight at the Battle of Loos in the summer of 1915 which he survived. He was not, however, fortunate enough to survive his next major engagement: the Battle of the Somme which claimed his life on the very first day.

His niece, Violet, remembered “standing on my bed while Mum helped me to get dressed….saying, “Poor Uncle Harry is dead”, with tears pouring down her cheeks. He was so young.” He was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal which are held by his family.

As well as his entry on the Thiepval Memorial, Private Bates is also commemorated on the Banstead War Memorial, on the wooden panels in the Memorial Chapel in All Saints, Banstead and in the All Saints’ Book of Men Who Served Overseas in the War 1914-1918.

The first phase of this Project is to gather information about the men commemorated on the Hampton Wick War Memorial who fought in the Great War, also known as World War I, WWI or the First World War.

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