Alfred William Yeates was born around 1874 in Chelsfield, Kent, England to James and Caroline Yeates [Nee Bridger]. Information concerning his early life is sparse, but he enlisted on April 17th, 1891 into the Royal Artillery, serial number 87492. He was a Gunner when he was posted to Gibraltar in 1893, then he went onto the Northwest Frontier at Chitral and Tirah. He was a member of the Army Temperance Association, to which his battery awarded him a ring of appreciation due to his work with the A.T.A.
Yeates, in 1893 and around 1903[?]
Alfred starts the story.. "My first foreign station was Gibraltar. From there I went to the north-west frontier of India and then to the South African War. After the fall of Pretoria the brigade division of artillery to which I was attached was ordered to China, to the Boxer Rebellion, and then back to South Africa." He appears in the China and Boer War Medal rolls quite a few times with different units such as the 92nd Company RGA, 56th Company RGA and 15th Siege Train Reservists. Alfred went back to England and married Ada Craske in October 1902 and had a few children. He took his discharge on November 16th, 1903 after 12 years in the service of a Queen and King. Alfred left England on January 19th, 1912 on the Orvieto, bound for Fremantle, Western Australia.
When war was declared, he didn't enlist immediately probably due to having a family and his age, but in August 1916 his wife died. He remarried in early 1917 and shortly after his marriage he would enlist on March 1st, 1917 [S/N 3591]. By this time, his brother had already enlisted and served nearly 2 years [2708 Cpl W.H Yeates, 8th Btn AIF]. Alfred listed he was Royal Artillery for 16 years and Instructional Staff for 2 years and a month. His promotion to Sergeant was almost immediate after enlisting, and after 3 months of training he was embarking with the 10th Reinforcements, 51st Battalion from Fremantle on May 29th, 1917. He disembarked at Plymouth on August 25th. A note was made in his service record reading "Enlisted with substantive rank of Sgt, previously acting Staff Sgt Major Instructional Staff Australia". Alfred was trained at 13th Training Battalion until he proceeded to France to reinforce the 44th Battalion on November 20th, 1917. He was taken onto strength of the 44th Battalion on November 29th. He was mentioned in the diary of J.S 'Jack' Finney on Friday, February 8th, 1918. The entry in the diary reads "Head aching a treat - afraid temp. is up - feeling hot and cold in turns. Went and saw Doctors and got some medicine and as I was going out on parades was ordered to go and lie down by Yeates." It was by this time that he was a member of 12 Platoon, 'C' Company and would next write out a Red Cross report concerning a member of his platoon by the name of Brook. He writes
"He was of C.Co XII Pl. On 29th March between Sailly le Sec and Sailly Laurette was hit by machine gun bullet. - died on road coming out. I saw him about 3.o'clock in the morning lying dead on the road. His body was recovered about 3 weeks after and buried by Captain Chaplain Phillips of 44th Battalion, at Sailly le Sec"
It appears death was around him as less than a week later, another member of his platoon would fall, this time a man by the name of Ewers who was killed on April 4th, 1918. He also wrote a red cross report concerning him, reading
"He was of C.Coy. XII Platoon. On Somme near Vaux about ? March at 5 o'clock in afternoon. Hit in head and arm by shell splinters. I helped to bandage him up, taken afterwards to R.A.P. Don't know where he died or where burie. Was unconscious when I saw him, but believe regained consciousness when on stretcher."
Members of the 44th Battalion at Bonnay for a rest in April 1918. Note: The man on the right looks similar to Yeates
On May 11th, 1918, Yeates was promoted to Temporary C.S.M of 'B' Company as the previous one had been wounded [CSM Burns, wounded April 15th], though only two weeks later Yeates would be wounded himself. A shell severely wounded his right leg and he was promptly evacuated with a 'blighty wound' and as a result, was reverted to Sergeant. He was admitted to the War Hospital at Epsom then onto the one at Harefield. He would remain there for quite a spell, even going on leave from August 3rd to the 17th before heading onto the No.4 Command Depot on September 24th. He winded up at No.2 Command Depot at Weymouth before he was invalided home on November 6th, arriving back in Australia the following month. He was discharged at 5th M.D on February 6th, 1919 after nearly two years in the service of the A.I.F.
In post-war life, he would become president of the Westralia South African Veterans Association, a member of the British Empire League society, an RSL executive, etc. He was a representative of the British Empire League in 1937 for the coronation, then he was awarded an OBE [Civil] in 1938. In the 39-45 war, he would go into uniform again, this time as a Captain on censorship and staff work.
He lived a full life, serving the mother country on three occasions and fighting in two expeditions, China, South Africa, World War One and on home duties in the Second World War. Alfred died on July 19th, 1960 and was buried at Karrakatta.
Below is a match of photos to replicate his medal set per his Second World War uniform, the inaccurate part being the clasps on the QSA
Edited by tankengine888