Lest We Forget

My good friend and esteemed Everton FC Heritage Society colleague Tony Wainwright contributes heavily to the commemorative work around the Liverpool Pals regiments. He has received national recognition for his efforts and is a fount of knowledge and inspiration to an amateur researcher like me. I was delighted to volunteer some time to delving into the stories of some of the brave men of the Liverpool Pals who lost their lives in the conflict. The first one I looked at was my namesake, Private James Yates (49132), no relation as far as I can tell so far.

Have a look at the site Tony has been a driving force behind launching in recent years. So many incredible stories of these brave soldiers and the families they left behind.

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Pte 49132 James Yates
Age: 36
From: Alsager Cheshire
Regiment: The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) 17th Btn
K.I.A Wednesday 8th May 1918
Commemorated at: Tyne Cot Memorial
Panel Ref: addenda 165

James Yates was born in 1881, in Alsager, Cheshire, the son of James Yates, a publican and, later, potato merchant, who hailed from Stoke-on-Trent, and his wife, Prudence (nee Goodall), who were married at Tunstall on 12 December 1866.

James and Prudence Yates had eight children, four of whom survived to adulthood, and had settled at ‘Sunnyside’ on Lawton Road, Alsager by the time of the 1881 census. There they live with eldest son John Thomas Goodall Yates, who had, like his mother, been born in Hanley, Staffordshire and daughter Mary Ann Yates.

By 1891, now living on Shady Grove off Lawton Road, the family has swelled by three, with sons James and Edward and daughter Sarah having arrived.

As of 1901, with Edward having sadly died in infancy and John and Mary Ann having left home, James and Sarah remain living with their mother and father at the house on Shady Grove.

In 1911 only James Yates, Jnr., is left living with his mother, his father James, Snr., having died in 1906. They are still resident on Lawton Road; indeed, Prudence would pass away there, in her early 80s, living at ‘Shady Villa’, in 1928. Living with them in 1911 are Lilian Frankling, aged 12, at school, daughter of James’ older sister Mary Ann, who had married Edmund John Frankling in 1898. Lilian was born in 1899. An E.J. Frankling is listed aboard the ‘Bavaria’ en route to Quebec, Canada on 2 July 1903. On 13 April 1904, a 28-year-old man by the name of Edmund Frankling, a machinist, died in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Mary Ann Frankling (nee Yates) married Bertie Jackson in 1909 and they are listed as living on Shady Grove in the 1911 census. Interestingly, another lodger resident with Prudence and her son James in 1911 is an 11-year-old schoolboy by the name of Douglas Jackson, the son of Bertie from his previous marriage to Ada Beatrice Scarlett, who had died in 1908.

Meanwhile, the eldest of the Yates siblings, John, had married Minnie Bradbury, back in Tunstall, on 11 April 1898. In 1911 they are listed as living at 1 America Street, Tunstall, with six young children and one servant. John is working on his own account as a butcher. John died in 1928. Sarah Yates married a man of the same surname, Egerton John Yates, a housepainter like her brother James, in 1902. Sarah and Egerton moved into a house on Shady Grove and, by 1911, they had five young children. Egerton Yates died in Plymouth In 1958 and a matching death for 1956 suggests Sarah may have passed away in Devon.

James enlisted in Chester joining the Cheshire Regiment as Private 4981. He subsequently transferred to the 17th Battalion of The King’s Liverpool Regiment as Private 49132.

He was killed in action during the German Spring Offensive on 8 May 1918, aged 36.

The 17th Battalion were at this time in the Vierstraat Sector. the diary reports that the day passed quietly until the afternoon. The front line ran through Klein Vierstraat Cabaret. At 4.30 pm it was reported that the Germans had advanced and were now in ” our original front line”. At 7.10 pm A and B company’s of the 17th Battalion were ordered to move forward in artillery formation from support line with object of co-operating with French troops who were advancing towards the enemy. At 08.10 pm the advance was reported to be going well on the left but nothing could be seen on the right. The situation at the end of the day was that the 17th Battalion were holding the line alongside several other units but casualties were heavy. Captain Norman Henry and Second Lieutenant Dudley Hammond Black were killed in action alongside 17 other ranks one of whom was James Yates.   

He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.  

The entire Yates family must have been shaken to the core by the loss of James, who had never married, when the news came through that he had been killed in action. Probate records reveal that he left his effects, to the value of £114 2s 1d, to his brother John and sister Mary Ann.

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