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Born 24 February 1895 in West Lynn, near King's Lynn, Bates was the son of William Bates, a railway signalman and his wife Sarah Ann. William was a pupil at West Lynn School and later won a scholarship to the King Edward VII Grammar School in King’s Lynn. He again won an entrance scholarship to St Chad’s Hostel, Hooton Pagnell in 1915. When the hostel closed he moved to Durham to continue his studies and was the JCR Treasurer of St Chad’s College for the Easter term of 1916. He had previously applied for a commission in the Artists Rifles in February 1916, but was rejected due to his weak eyesight. He successfully signed up with the Durham Light Infantry as a private and joined the D.L.I. Depot at Newcastle in May of that year. In June 1917 Bates was later transferred to the Labour Corps still as a private in 471 (Home Service) Employment Company. He applied for a commission again and was admitted to the Garrison Officer Cadet Battalion, Jesus College, Cambridge. He was subsequently commissioned into the Labour Corps in December 1917. In March 1918 he went to France, where he was posted to Labour Corps Base Depot at Boulogne. In April 1918 he was posted to 101 Company, Labour Corps. On 13 May 1918 William Bates was gassed and died of his wounds at No. 2 British Red Cross Hospital in Rouen. His company had been involved in laying communication lines near Foncquevillers and was caught by heavy German gas shelling. The company sustained heavy casualties, in fact the heaviest losses of the Labour Corps in the war. He is buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, and commemorated on a memorial window at All Saints’ Church, South Lynn, on King Edward's School war memorial in King's Lynn, on West Lynn’s war memorial at St Peter’s Church, and on the 1914-1918 reredos in St Chad’s College chapel.
Place of birth: West Lynn, King's Lynn, Norfolk
School: West Lynn School, King's Lynn, Norfolk
School: King Edward VII Grammar School, King's Lynn, Norfolk
Buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rue Pierre Lefrancois, 76140 Le Petit-Queuilly, Rouen, France
Memorial window at All Saints’ Church, Hillington Square, Church Lane, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE30 5HF
War memorial, King Edward's School, Gaywood Rd, King's Lynn PE30 2QB
War memorial, St Peter’s Church, St Peter's Road, West Lynn, Norfolk PE34 3JD
1914-1918 reredos, Chapel, St Chad's College, Durham University, Durham DH1 3RH
Barton, Nick and David Barton, “Here Dead We Lie (1901-1918)”, Foundation Vol. 3 No. 1, (2006), 92-102.
Gordon Allinson, David Barton, Nick Barton, Joyce Malcolm
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