Born: 1879, Enfield, Middlesex.
Died: 26th/27th March 1918; age: 39; KiA.
Enlistment Location: Hertford, Hertfordshire.
Rank: Company Sergeant Major; Service Number: 5373.
Regiment: Suffolk Regiment, 7th Battalion.
Medals Awarded: Victory & British War.
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.
Lilian, 7 months.
William’s father was William Bates.
On the 26th December 1908, at St. Michael’s Church, Wood Green, Middlesex, William married, Emma Mary Lay, born 1880, Finsbury Park, London. They had 4 children:
Lilian M. Bates, born 1910, Wormley, Hertfordshire.
William F. Bates, born 1912, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.
Violet R. Bates, born 1913, Bury St. Edmunds – died 1914, Ipswich.
Herbert Henry Bates, born June 1915, Ipswich.
A family note: Robert Rayner
“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 sky’s 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 had pushed all British units to the limit and quoted in the records as “a confused and desperate character” with limited supplies, no artillery or mortar support fighting against overwhelming German numbers.
The 7th positions 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 cause 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 bridge head with “deadly effect”
By 22:20 the Germans in strength using mortars and hand grenades crossed the bridge head pushing the 7th out of their forward position, taking just 10 minutes making new machine gun positions in captured buildings west of the bridge.
23:15 “C” company launched a counter attack taking back most of the positions except the bridge head.
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 digging in new positions.
By dawn No. 2 platoon was reduced to jus 3 men the Battalion had sustained 256 casualties including 12 officers. The 7th Battalion were withdrawn back to Henencourt to rest.
THE SUFFOLK REGIMENT 7th (Service) Battalion: