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Remembered Today:

H. Yates, Hon. Lt. & Quartermaster 2/RWF


Andrew Hesketh
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Anyone know his christian name?

I can think of one member who probably would but his inbox is full, which makes me kind of, well, grumpy. :whistle:

(By the way, can't find a MIC. Two MID's. But nothing else.)

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Thank you Diane. I think you've nailed that one.

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Harry Yates. Born 3rd May, 1868 - you probably already know - much about him in Dr Dunn's The War the Infantry Knew and David Langley's excellent book on 2/RWF - Duty Done.

Regards ... Maricourt

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No illustrations of course, but I have them to hand.

Honorary Lieutenant and Quartermaster Harry Yates. It is the historian’s great good fortune that Yates’s file is available in National Archive. It is WO 339 8283. He was born the son of a blacksmith on 3rd May 1868 at 24 Mary Street, Ashton under Lyne but served his time in the ranks with an incorrect birth date on his records. This was due to his having said, when he enlisted, that he was 19 years and 11 months, inferring a date of birth for official purposes of 4th April 1867. Thus, when he was commissioned, his birthday changed. He attested as a private at the Royal Welch Fusiliers Depôt on 4th March 1887, with previous occupation given as porter, and was posted to 2nd RWF on 25th May 1887. Beyond an unwise and painful collision with a gymnasium vaulting horse which caused hospitalisation for orchitis on 15th June that year, his military career appears remarkably free from injury. His particulars included height 66.25 (sic) inches, weight 138 pounds (there is no date for this and one suspects this was early in his career and that he filled out somewhat). He became a lance-corporal 31st January 1889 and began to receive Good Conduct pay 4th March that same year.

Yates married Hannah Roberts of Liverpool 8th January 1890, became a full Corporal 2nd August 1890 and passed his examination for sergeant 10th March 1892. He was appointed lance-sergeant on 10th November 1891 at the Depôt and promoted full sergeant, again at the Depôt, 1st April 1893. Rejoining his battalion as a sergeant 21st May 1894 at Aldershot, he moved with it to Manchester later that year, on to Malta in 1896 and to Crete for the occupation 1897-8. His battalion went to Egypt in 1898 and to Hong Kong via Crete (again) at the end of the year, thus missing the South African War but taking part in the China campaign culminating in the Relief of Pekin on 14 Aug 1900 where Yates was a colour-sergeant (promoted 19th January 1900). Yates found time there to pass a course as a Mounted Infantry NCO, and, more importantly, his Army First Class Certificate of Education. This was a prerequisite for a commission. He was appointed Orderly Room sergeant 18th June 1903 (top of page at Left) having arrived with his unit in India the year before and was elevated further to regimental quartermaster-sergeant 1st February 1911 although Richards, in his ‘Old Soldier Sahib’ states that Yates held the latter post, albeit temporarily, earlier. Richards further wrote, with obvious suspicion, that ‘Papa’ Yates ran the regimental soda water factory at Agra ‘a profitable business … much discussed by the troops’ and that he was a Freemason of high degree.

Yates was gazetted Honorary Lieutenant and Quartermaster (QM) on 27th January 1912, attracting Richards’s comment that it was not due to him by seniority, but also that he was a good QM. He appears in the Malta group top Right. He was in a very responsible position when war broke out and is the only officer to have served as such with the battalion throughout the conflict, interspersed only by seven periods of leave, each of about a week to a fortnight. His initiative (which might have had him court martialled in peace time but which was entirely unit-orientated) in the retreat from le Cateau was important in maintaining 2nd RWF as an efficient fighting unit. He is pictured at left on the Somme in 1916. He was Mentioned in Despatches 1st January 1916 and 15th June 1916, was promoted to captain and QM 4th June 1917 and received his Military Cross award 1st June 1918; ‘everyone approved’ said The War the Infantry Knew. After the war he returned to UK as a major QM with the battalion cadre 29th May 1919 and was able to greet his wife ‘heartily and unblushingly’ at the returning parade in the Depôt town, Wrexham. The last photograph, overleaf, was taken at about this time.

Sadly, his personal file reveals that his formal retirement from 4th April 1922 was not of the happiest. He applied for a post as Retired Recruiting Officer in March 1921 and again in 1922. A vacancy at Wrexham, wrote Yates, had been created by the death of Major Welton. (Welton was commissioned from the ranks in 1914). Yates wrote that he had been unemployed for eleven months. He spoke Welsh and said he lived in Liverpool. Some of the anguish of the legions of the unemployed ex-soldiers spilled out: ‘35 years service seems to disqualify me at once when applying for a situation’. The authorities regretted that someone else had been appointed. He tried again in 1924, was told there was no prospect and an internal War Office comment was that Yates had exceeded the age limit. His retired pay is recorded as £263 per annum in 1924. A letter from his widow completes the file. She reported his sudden death on 14th November 1946 and enquired for a widow’s pension, adding that he had a son Ivan Alexander Yates born 22nd April 1929. She was told that, as Yates had married her after his retirement, she did not qualify. It is not known when his first wife died or how his first marriage ended.

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Maricourt -yes, I've got all the references in Dunn, but many thanks. I need to get hold of a copy of Duty Done by wotsisname though.

Grumpy - I only asked for a christian name! Needless to say, I am enormously grateful for all that detail, and I thank you very much for sharing it. My interest is that he was well known in Abergele and visited frequently when on leave. His wife, Hannah Roberts, was from Abergele. For example he was present for a nephew's wedding in Abergele in September 1915 (John Evan Roberts, 13/RWF). Another nephew was Thomas Owen Roberts, 2nd Lt., 14/RWF, KIA 18/09/1918. You were wondering about his first wife, Hannah. Now you mention it I note that none of the references to him in the local papers refer to his wife as still being around. For example when he was home on leave January 1915 and August 1918 he is recorded as staying with his brother in law William Roberts at Bodgwilym, Castle Place, Abergele. This by no means can be taken as proof, but there is an implication that Hannah was not around by at least 1915.

Thank you very much for your notes, I feel less grumpy now.

(Any chance of a picture of him?)

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  • Admin
After the war he returned to UK as a major QM with the battalion cadre 29th May 1919 and was able to greet his wife ‘heartily and unblushingly’ at the returning parade in the Depôt town, Wrexham.

Is this not a reference to the first wife still being around?.

Craig

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Good point. Presumably the local paper ignored her in their comments!

David, thanks for that photo and the PM. I'll be in touch.

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  • 5 years later...

Hello there,

 

I have just found this conversation trail on my grandfather Harry Yates. Fascinating reading. Is there any more correspondence or info on  him? I am currently researching his medals with a specific focus on his MC. If I can help with any information just let me know.

 

many thanks

 

Mark A H Yates

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I found nothing on his MC and assume that it was not for a single act of gallantry but for a very long and continuous period of outstanding service.

 

I assume that you own The War the Infantry Knew and Duty Done?

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  • 1 year later...

Harry Yates was  a freemason, he was a Founder of Ormond-Iles Lodge No.3433 in Shwebo when the 2nd battalion was stationed there. I do have details of some of the other lodges he joined if of interest. A lodge in Burma called Rangoon & Ormond Iles returned to the UK in 1964 and now meets in London

 

Peter

 

 

 

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