Thomas Bates was born in 1888 and baptised at St Mary’s Church Thame on 17th March 1889. He was the son of George Thomas Bates and his wife Jane. After his mother died in 1890, his father married Elizabeth Crowdy. Thomas continued to live with his father and stepmother, together with his four brothers and sisters and two step-siblings, in Bridge Terrace, Thame.
By 1911, at the age of 23, he had moved to Waddesdon, Buckinghamshire to live with his sister Maud and her husband and was working as a farm labourer.
In January 1916 he enlisted with the 43rd Canadian Reserve Battalion (Cameron Highlanders of Canada) at Shorncliffe, Kent which was a major base for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His enlistment papers record his birthplace as Inverness, Scotland, possibly to get around the Battalion’s link with a Scottish regiment.
After only five weeks training at East Sandling Camp, Kent he embarked to France in February 1916. At the end of May, following a short spell in a field hospital with myalgia, he was attached to the 177th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers who were based at Mount Sorrel, three kilometres east of Ypres.
Two days later, on 2nd June, the Germans launched their attack against the Canadian 3rd Division at Mount Sorrel. Thomas, age 27, was posted missing on the first day of the Battle, but it was not until February 1917 that he was finally presumed dead, at which time his soldier’s pay of $20 Canadian per month was stopped.
421123 Private Thomas Bates, Canadian Infantry, has no known grave and is commemorated on The Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres. He is remembered in Thame on the War Memorial and on the Memorial Boards of St Mary’s Church and All Saints’ Church.
The Thame Remembers Cross was delivered to Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium on 30th October 2015 by David and Jenny Dodds