Private Alexander Bates


Alexander Bates was born on 15 March 1884 at Glenleary, Ramelton, County Donegal, the fourth of six children of farmer Ussher Bates and his wife Jane (nee Stewart). His father died when he was just eight years old. By 1911 he was living at Glenleary with his mother and two brothers and working on the family farm.

Bates enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Letterkenny on 28 January 1910 (No.445). He embarked for France with C Squadron on 20 August 1914, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

On 28 January 1915 he was admitted to the 11th Stationary Hospital at Rouen with an inflammation of the stomach. He was transferred to a convalescent camp a fortnight later. Hearing of his ilness, Bates's brother Ussher wrote to the War Office:

In reply to your letter of the 9th, sorry to see by it that my brother 445 private A Bates of the North Irish Horse is ill in Hospital, I would like very much if you could find out for me his conditions & progress, as I have not heard from him since he entered Hospital & I would like to know how he is getting along, if you would I would be greatly obliged.

On 7 July 1915 Bates was admitted to the 10th Stationary Hospital at St Omer suffering from suspected pneumonia. This time his brother James wrote:

I have received information through the War Office that Private Alex Bates, Reg. No.445 – North Irish Horse, has been admitted into 10th Stationary Hospital St Omer, France, suffering from Pneumonia on 7th July up to the present no further information is available. I am directed to write to you for any information obtainable to I would be very grateful if you could supply the condition of his health whether he is out of danger or not. Very anxiously awaiting your reply.

In fact Bates's illness had been diagnosed as enteric fever (typhoid) and on 7 August 1915 he was transferred to the 14th Stationary Hospital at Wimereux. Later that month he was evacuated to England, where he spent a month at the 4th London General Hospital at Denmark Hill before being transferred to the Addington Park Convalescent Hospital at Croydon. He was discharged and allowed to return home on 8 December.

Bates recovered slowly. On 1 February 1916 he was too ill to be moved from his home to the Londonderry Military Hospital.

On 6 March 1916 he was discharged from the army, being no longer physically fit for war service (Paragraph 392 xvi King's Regulations). His record of service was marked as 'very good'.

Bates returned to farming. He died on 8 February 1940 at Glenleary and was buried in the Killydonnell graveyard.



Image from Killydonnell graveyard sourced from Ancestry, contributor elizabethfitzroy.