Born: 1879, Bethnal Green, Middlesex.

Died: 26th March 1918; age: 39; KiA.

Residence: 42, Coronation Road, Ipswich.

Occupation: a French Polisher.

Enlistment Location: Hertford, Hertfordshire.


William served in the South African Boer War – ranked a Private, 5373, for the Suffolk Regiment, 1st Battalion. He was awarded the South African 1901 and 1902 medals.


Rank: Company Sergeant Major; Service Number: 5373.

Regiment: Suffolk Regiment, 7th Battalion.


Medals Awarded: Victory & British War.


Memorial Reference:

Panel 25.

Pozieres Memorial,






1881   1, York Road, Bethnal Green, Middlesex.


William was 2 years old and living with his parents.

William Bates, 23, a Painter, born Hackney Road, Middlesex.

Frances Bates (nee Howes), 22, born Bethnal Green, Middlesex.


1891   26, Fuller Street, Bethnal Green, Middlesex.


William was 11 years old and living with his maternal grandparents.

Thomas Howes, 54, a Hawker – Coster, born Bethnal Green.

Frances Howes, 54, a Hawker – Coster, born Bethnal Green.


1901   8, Arline Street, Bethnal Green, Middlesex.


William was 21 years old, a French Polisher. He was living with his parents & siblings.

William, 44, a Furniture Packer.

Frances, 44.

Frances Sarah Bates, 19, a Pattern Worker, born Bethnal Green.

Charlotte Matilda Bates, 17, an Evelope Folder, born Bethnal Green.

Florence Bates, 14, an Envelope Folder, born Bethnal Green.

Bertie Bates, 12, born Bethnal Green.

Thomas Bates, 10, born Bethnal Green.

Walter Bates, 6, born Bethnal Green.

Frederick Albert Bates, 4, born Bethnal Green.

Elizabeth Bates, 2, born Bethnal Green.


1911   Depot Suffolk Regiment, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.


William was 24 years old, a Soldier ranked Corporal of the Suffolk Regiment.


In 1911, William’s wife & daughter were living at their family home at 31, Acacia Road, Wood Green, Middlesex.

Emma, 31.

Lilian, 7 months.


On the 26th December 1908, at St. Michael’s Church, Wood Green, Middlesex, 29 year old William, a soldier, married, 28 year old Emma Mary Lay, born February 1880, Finsbury Park, London – daughter of the late Charles Lay and Sarah Lay (nee Ager).

Emma and William had four children:

Lilian Emma Bates, born August 1910, Wormley, Hertfordshire.

William Frederick Bates, born June 1912, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.

Violet R. Bates, born 1913, Bury St. Edmunds – died 1914, Ipswich.

Herbert Henry Bates, born June 1915, Ipswich.


Soldiers’ Effects to Emma M. Bates – widow.

A family note: Robert Rayner

“My granddad, Herbert Henry, is the small child at the front.”

I remember as a small child a pocket watch pinned to my grandad’s wall (Herbert) which was William’s. It was broken and was never repaired. The time it stopped was apparently the time he was killed.”

“Thank you for the information about W. Bates. You have filled in with things I never knew. My Grandfather was Herbert Henry, and my daughter is called Violet.”


On March 20th the 7th Battalion were enjoying the start of a rest period but within hours the Germans began a major offensive at Picardy. The division having taken up positions in the area of  Busnes, receiving orders during the night of the 24th-25th moved south to the Albert sector. Travelling through the night under clear moonlight skies while passing through Lillers German aircraft bombed the town taking advantage of the clear skies.

On arrival, they were given orders to take up positions along the line of Bazentin-le-Montauban near Fricourt, which was quickly cancelled being ordered back to Albert.

During the morning of the 26th the 7th battalion found itself defending the Albert bridge-heads which had been constructed by the 8th Suffolk’s in 1916.

The German offensive had been pushing forward for five days and had pushed all British units to the limit and quoted in the records as “a confused and desperate character” with limited supplies, and no artillery or mortar support fighting against overwhelming German numbers.

The 7th position ran from the train station 300 yards to the Albert-Amiens road which taking up positions at 15:00hrs dug themselves in. By 16:30 the Germans began to advance in waves a lewis gunner coving the approach at 100 yards caused heavy casualties until it was put out of action.

No. 3 platoon “A” company twice beat off the German advance with fire support from No.2 Platoon and the Machine gun corps. Sweeping the bridgehead with a “deadly effect

By 22:20 the Germans in strength using mortars and hand grenades crossed the bridgehead pushing the 7th out of their forward position, taking just 10 minutes to make new machine gun positions in captured buildings west of the bridge.

23:15 “C” company launched a counterattack taking back most of the positions except the bridgehead.

No.2 Platoon just before midnight with support from the 5th Northamptonshire Regiment attacked the house and the bridgehead but failed to regain both mainly through lack of grenades and fire support pulling back 300 hundred yards and digging in new positions.

By dawn No. 2 platoon was reduced to just 3 men the Battalion had sustained 256 casualties including 12 officers. The 7th Battalion was withdrawn back to Henencourt to rest.


THE SUFFOLK REGIMENT 7th (Service) Battalion:

Suffolk Regiment Battalion movements

Suffolk Regiment museum

Friends of The Suffolk Regiment

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