PRIVATE ALBERT VICTOR BATES
31ST OCTOBER 1918 AGE 20
BURIED: ODOMEZ COMMUNAL CEMEMTERY, FRANCE
This is a lovely inscription and although there are no quotation marks it seems to me that this will have been a tribute from Albert Bates' officer. My father was an officer in the Second World War and to the end of his life the highest compliment he could pay a young man was to say, 'He would make a good soldier'.
Albert Bates was just 20 when he died. He served with the 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment. On the night of the 30th/31st October 1918 the battalion took part in forcing a passage across the River L'Escaut. The crossing was effected by 00.30 hours on the 31st but by the early morning 'the Boche' were reported as massing for a counter attack. Over the next few hours the battalion suffered heavy casualties, some caused by the RAF. At 08.30 the casualties were reported as '12 OR wounded (through RAF) 1 killed, probably incomplete'. By 15.10 casualties were estimated to be 'about 80'. The war may only have had eleven days to run but the Germans were still trying to defend every river crossing and strategic location.
Bates and one other soldier from the battalion, Private Montague Augustus White, are the only two to be buried in Odomez Communal Cemetery; their bodies buried on 20 November 1918. The battalion's other casualties of the day are buried about 15 km away in Valenciennes.
Mrs Laura Bates chose her son's inscription. The family lived at 45 Marsden Road, Redditch where father, Henry Bates, worked as a toolmaker in a cycle works. Albert was one of their four children.