Private Lewis Arthur Bates
2nd Bn. Royal Berkshire Regiment

Town Memorial  P1.R3.C3

Lewis A.Bates
2nd. Royal Berkshire Regt.
April 4 1917

CWGC record

Taken, Not Given, Liam Sumption, L&DLHS

The invaluable Parish Magazine issue of May 1915  tells us a little about Lewis Bates. (1)

He had been both a member of the All Saints choir and the Church Lads Brigade. He had previously been a Lance Corporal in the 19th Hussars and was a machine gunner in the Berkshires.

By the cross in the memorial in North Street is a little stone placed by his wife – the only indication we have that he was married [but see below].

The regimental records of the Berkshires, for some reason or other, are silent about previous service in other regiments or corps, unlike other formations (2).

However they give the following details: – he was born in Leatherhead and enlisted in London (Epsom). His regimental number was 37539, and his membership of the 2nd. Bn., Royal Berkshires, and date of death was confirmed.

What occurred on 4th. April 1917, a snowy day, is set out in the Battalion War Diary. (3)

The Battalion was to cooperate with the 20th Division in an attack on METZ-EN-COUTRE, the object of being GOUZEACOURT WOOD.

The initial time for the attack was changed to 2.15 p.m., and the Berkshires moved out on time. However enemy reinforcements threatened to counter-attack, and an attempt to outflank the enemy position remained just that. However the Berkshires managed to get into the wood.

They lost 16 Other Ranks killed, while 27 were wounded. Three officers were also wounded. The view of the C.O. was that “casualties were not excessive considering the difficulty of the attack, the snow, and the amount of ground gained."

On the night of the 5th/6th, the Berkshires were relieved by the 2nd. Bn. Lincolnshire Regiment – but without Lewis Bates and nine others.

Notes on sources
1. Parish Magazine of St Mary and Saint Nicholas Leatherhead, issue of May 1917.
2. Soldiers who Died in the Great War (Royal Berkshire Regt.), Imperial War Museum, Lambeth/
3. File WO 95–1729, War Diary of 2nd. Bn. Royal Berkshire Rgt., Public Record Office, Richmond, Kew.

Further research

The CWGC record states

Service Number 37589
Died 04/04/1917*
Aged 28
2nd Bn.
Royal Berkshire Regiment**
Husband of Nellie N. Bates, of 35, Kingscote Rd., New Malden, Surrey.


Location: Pas de Calais, France
Cemetery/memorial reference: III. C. 19.

* The CWGC page for Lewis Bates includes images of the Cemetery Register and the IWGC Graves Registration Report Form. The latter states his date of death as 5.3.17, which is not the date on his headstone. This is being followed up with the CWGC.

** the Royal Berkshires were also known as the Princess Charlotte of Wales's (Royal Berkshire) Regiment

[***Mizpah's first usage (Gen 31.49-50) refers to it as a pillar of stones set up by Jacob and Laban. The pillar of stones acted as a witness to the bond between the two men. As Laban said, "The Lord watch between you and me, when we are absent one from the other. ... remember, God is witness between you and me". It is for this reason that Mizpah has often been interpreted as signifying an emotional bond between people who are separated, either physically by distance or by death.]

The Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser - Saturday 29 December 1917, lists his death in its Roll of the Leatherhead men who had died in 1917:
APRIL: BATES, Pte. L., son of Mr. and Mrs. Bates, Fern Bank, Kingston-road, Leatherhead.

He was born on 11 Nov 1888 in Leatherhead and baptised (as Louis Arthur) on 30 Dec 1888 at the parish church of St Mary and St Nicholas, Leatherhead.

His parents were Arthur James Bates (born about 1862) and Harriet Evelyn Bates (maiden name and dates not currently known).  His father and his Bates grandparents came from Bushey in Hertfordshire. His mother is also named in Census records as Eveline, and as a 'British Subject born in Belgium' or 'Born Germany, British Subject by parentage'.

His brothers and sisters were Beatrice Maud Bates (1890–1970), born 18 May 1890; Edith Alice Bates (1894–1982), born 1 Mar 1894; William Henry Bates (1897- ); John Horace Bates (1900 - ); Arnold Roger Bates (1903 - ); Lily Winifred Bates (1905 - )

The 1901 Census shows his family in  Kingston Road, Leatherhead, near the Plough Inn. They were living with his Bates grandparents.

In the 1911 Census they were still in the Kingston Road, at Fern Bank. The Census form was signed by Albert Boxall, a 23 year old postman who was boarding with them. His grandparents were not listed and his father's occupation was 'Jobbing Gardener'.

Lewis was described as a 'Shop Assistant, Hosiery & Outfitting'.

As well as being commemorated on Leatherhead War Memorial and the Church Lads Brigade Tryptich at All Saints' he is also listed on the Ladies' War Shrine in the parish church and and the British Legion Roll of Honour, both also in the church.

Liam Sumption referred above to a stone placed at the Leatherhead War Memorial by Lewis's wife. It no longer appears to be there. Efforts to find other references to it and what was inscribed on it have so far been unsuccessful. Although the CWGC records details of his wife, research to find a record of their marriage has so far drawn a blank.

However, a few days after the 2018 Centenary Remembrance Sunday service at the Memorial the 'Bates Stone' was spotted.

The location of the stone

The inscription on the stone

Further research sources:
British Newspaper Archive

the website editor would like to add further information on this casualty
e.g. a photo of him, his headstone and of any recollections within his family

last updated 2 Mar 2018: 24 Nov 18