The son of George Thomas and Jane Bates, Thomas Bates was born in 1888 and baptised at St Mary’s Church on 17th March 1889. After his mother died in 1890, his father married Elizabeth Crowdy and 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 to live with his sister Maud and her husband where he was working as a farm labourer.
In January 1916 he enlisted into the 43rd Battalion (Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada) at Shorncliffe, Kent (a major base for the Canadian Expeditionary Force), regimental number 421123. His enlistment papers record his birthplace as Inverness, Scotland, possibly to get over the battalion’s link with a Scottish regiment.
After only five weeks training at East Sandling camp he embarked to France in February 1916. Following a short spell in a field hospital with Myalgia, he was attached to the 177 th Tunnelling Company, RE at the end of May who were based at Mount Sorrel, 3 kilometres east of Ypres.
Two days later, on the 2nd June, the Germans launched their attack against the Canadian 3rd Division at Mount Sorrell. Thomas 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.
He is remembered on the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres, and in Thame on the war memorial and the St Mary’s and All Saints memorial boards.
The Thame Remembers Cross was delivered to Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium on 30th October 2015 by David and Jenny Dodds