Arthur Bates (1897-1918)

This page is part of a project by David Verguson to research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the Lindley area.


Arthur Bates is on no memorial in Lindley but the family lived at 1 Brian Street when Arthur was taken into the army and by 1919 his mother lived on Holly Bank Road.

When Arthur was born in 1897 his mother, Mary Jane Bates aged 25, was unmarried and lived with her widowed mother, Mary Ann Bates.

Mary Ann and her husband, Alfred Bates, both came from Lindley with Alfred working as a card dresser. They had five children of which, Mary Jane, born in 1873, was the eldest.

In 1891 the family were living in Dearne Fold. Alfred died in soon after the census at the age of only 42. Before the next census in 1901, Mary and the five children had moved to Brian Street. Like his late father, George Bates worked in the card works, as did Lucy and Alfred’s mother, Mary Jane – Lucy as a wire piecener and Mary as a wire warper. The other two girls, Sarah and Emma, worked in cotton spinning, possibly in the Sykes works on Acre Street next to the card factory. By 1911 Lucy was described as a ‘wire temperer’ and Mary Jane as a ‘Steel Wire Wrapper’, probably at the Sykes works.

Throughout this period, it seems likely that Arthur was looked after by his grandmother, Mary Ann, when not at school.

The house on Brian Street, which Mary appears to have owned, had only four rooms, which must have made it a bit of a squeeze for Mary Ann and her five children, aged between 25 and seventeen in 1901, and three-year-old Arthur. But all those old enough were working so the family probably had a reasonable amount of money coming in.

By 1911 George and Sarah had moved out – presumably after marrying. Lucy had married William Johnson in 1906 but with her daughter Ethel, born in 1908, was saying at no. 1 Brian Street when the census was held, so there were still six people in the four-room house. By 1919 Lucy was living in West Street.

In the summer of 1915, Arthur’s mother, Mary Jane married George Ellam.

Arthur was attested into the army at Halifax on 2 November 1916, probably having been conscripted under the Military Service Act of January that year. His age was given as ’18 years and 50 days’ though in fact he was just over nineteen. He gave his occupation as ‘grinder’ and he worked, like his late grandfather, his mother and his uncle George and his aunts, he worked in the card works on Acre St.

The address Arthur gave on recruitment was 1 Brian St, which may mean that his mother and her new husband, George Ellam, still lived with Mary Ann as she had before her marriage. However, by 1919 she was living at 17 Holly Bank Rd, those houses near the junction with Lidget St, now long demolished.

The records are damaged so we cannot tell Arthur’s height however his chest measurements are given as 33 1/2 “ with a range of 2”; his weight was recorded as 111 lbs, or just under 8 stone. Clearly, he was not a big man.

His hair was described as ‘fair’ and he had been vaccinated in infancy. He was sent from the Heaton Depot for training to the 3rd Battalion, the North Staffs, at Wallsend, Northumberland on the day after his medical. Three months later, on 24 February 1917 he was posted to France, landing at Boulogne on the following day. After a month at the Etaples camp, where no doubt he underwent further training to prepare him for the Front, he was sent on 19 March to join the 12th Battalion, the Manchester Regiment that was then in the area of Arras, northern France.

By early April, just before the division took part in the first Battle of Scarpe, Arthur was ill with German measles and hospitalised for a week at St. Pol. After recovery he joined C Company. A year later on 18 January 1918, he was again in hospital and was found diagnosed with influenza on 20 February 1918. By April he was back at the Etaples camp where he stayed until 10 May, when he rejoined C Company.

He was lucky when he was granted home leave from 17 July until the 30th. It seems possible that this was for ‘compassionate’ reasons: Mary Ann Bates, Arthur’s grandmother, who had played an important part in raising him, died about this time so he may have been allowed home to see her before she died or less likely, to attend her funeral.

Soon after his return to France he was hospitalised with tonsillitis. A month later, on 9 September 1918 he was posted as ‘Wounded and missing in Action’ and his family received news to that effect and as late February 1919, they still knew no different and wrote to Army records for more information.

Enquires by the Army lead to a further details being added to his forms: he had died from wounds on 9 September at ‘a halting place while in the cars of a sanitary unit’. This seems to have been confirmed by a German list received before the end of January 1919 though his family knew no more until they wrote a few days later. Presumably, the vehicle with Arthur’s body had been overtaken by the Germans and they had taken note of his identity. However, Arthur’s body was never recovered by the British, although early information seemed to point to a burial site.

Arthur had been in the army for less than two years at the time of his death.

As he has no known grave, Arthur is remembered on the memorial at Vis-en-Artois in the cemetery at Haucourt some 10 kms south-east of Arras. Surprisingly, Arthur is on no memorial in Lindley.

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:

BATES, ARTHUR. Private. No 41932. 12th Battalion Manchester Regiment. Formerly No 3/31667 North Staffordshire Regiment. Born 1 Brian Street, Lindley 1897. Son of Mrs G. Ellam. Employed by Messrs Joseph Sykes Brothers Limited, Acre Mills, Lindley. Enlisted 13.9.1916. Reported missing, presumed killed, 9.9.1918, aged 21 years. Has no known grave. Commemorated on the VIS-en-ARTOIS MEMORIAL TO THE MISSING.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission