We like to visit the graves or the memorials of our Dovorian
casualties as often as we can. Towards the end of 2007 there
were two very special occasions, when we were privileged to
accompany the relatives of casualties as they paid their
respects. Here is one of those special times; for the other
see the Relatives of John Cork
GEORGE BATES - 90th
George Bates died on 3rd October 1917, during the Third Battle
of Ypres - or Passchendaele. On the 90th anniversary
of his death we went with his grandson, Peter, to spend a while
by his grave, and to retrace as best we could what had happened
to him on that fateful day in the Ypres Salient.
While Maggie and Peter stopped at the archives of the
"In Flanders Fields" museum, and worked through their
pictures and maps of the battlefields at the time of
Private Bates' death, Simon visited to the St
George's Memorial Church. This was designed by Sir
Reginald Blomfield, as part of the post-war
commemorations, and was built between 1927 and 1929.
||It's filled with memorial plaques. Earlier in 2007,
Peter had dedicated one there to George Bates. It reads:
"George Bates 1st QORWK
Born 27th July 1885 Elmsted Kent
Killed 3rd October `1917 near Hooge
Sorely missed by Amelia, Leslie and
his loving family in Dover"
George Bates is buried at Bedford House cemetery.
Right is an early view of the cemetery, from a book of
postcard images of the military cemeteries around Ypres
(published by Maison Van Winsen, Ypres).
There are now over 5,100 people
commemorated at Bedford House. Just over 3,000 of them
are not certainly identified, as bodies were brought in
after the Armistice from the battlefields, from hastily
dug graves, and from cemeteries destroyed by bombardment
lies in the largest enclosure, number IV, which grew
from 400 graves to around 3,700 between 1921 and 1926.
The graves either side of George are amongst those unidentified. It
was the signet ring he wore which ensured that George
Bates was buried
with his name. Who gave it to him, we wonder.
book that Peter is placing on his grandfather's
headstone is a copy of David Copperfield, by Charles
It was given to George by, we
believe, his future wife, on his 17th birthday. The
inscription reads: "George Bates. A gift from his
friend, "Milly". July 27th /02"
15th December 1925 Mrs Bates received a letter from the
then Imperial War Graves Commission.
"I am directed to inform you that in
accordance with the agreement with the French and
Belgian Governments to remove all scattered graves and
small cemeteries containing less than 40 graves, and
certain other cemeteries which were situated in places
unsuitable for permanent retention, it has been found
necessary to exhume the bodies buried in certain areas.
In the process of exhumation the grave of Private G Bates
was located at a point South East of Hooge, and his
remains which were identified by means of a portion of a
Gold Signet Ring, engraved with the initials "G.B." have
been re-interred in Bedford House Cemetery ...
The reburial has
been reverently and carefully carried out.".
From his death until his body was
recovered, George Bates lay here, on the corner of
Sanctuary Wood. It is still possible to see shell holes
and remains of trenches beneath the trees.
The wood lies
in a dip in the terrain, and we believe George was
killed up on the Menin Road ridge and brought down here
where the burial party could work in relative safety.
Bates for more)
pictures: Simon Chambers