Thomas (Tommy) was born on 1st July 1889 and he was baptised in St Mark’s Church in August that year. The 1891 census finds Thomas aged 1 living at Kelsterton Hall with his family which comprised his father Thomas 41, Perenna Bate his 32 year old Irish mother and siblings Gwendolin Mary Owen 11, Dorothy 5, Roger Whitley 8, Gladys A 7 and Marjorie 3. There were three visitors and nine resident servants.
Ten years later in the next census of 1901, Thomas is aged 11 and a boarder at Fort Hill School in East Grinstead in East Sussex. According to UK De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour he later went on to Shrewsbury School. He doesn’t appear on a 1911 census because we know that he spent some time travelling, including farming in Australia.
His brother Roger Whitley Bate was killed in the Boer War.
Thomas at the age of 25 in 1914 returned to Kelsterton as the heir to the estate. He seems to have been a much respected and popular landlord and JP. He enlisted on 4th August 1914. As a temporary captain he was posted to Gallipoli in August 1915. He served for 2 years and 7 months and was killed in the first battle of Gaza* in Palestine. At a service in Flint Parish Church in May that year, the rector spoke of the numerous letters he was receiving from the front and was especially pleased to read one out that he had had from the son of John Bowen of Feathers Street Flint. It said,
‘Mr Bate fell a fine soldier, game to the end. After being shot he was urging men on giving them advice until he died, which was not long after he received the wound.’
This might have been Thomas when he was in Turkey – War Diary of the 1/5th Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers
SULAJIK – 9th September 1915 to 16th September 1915
Occupied trenches. Improving fire trench, putting up more entanglements, digging new support and communication trenches. Lieut. T. BATE to hospital on 9th September 1915 – dysentry. O Ranks 2 killed and 4 wounded.
16th September 1915 Proceeded to rest camp at Hill 10.
Another soldier Private William Edward Metcalfe serving with the 5th Bn RWF was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Gaza wrote in a letter home to his mother in Carmel, Flintshire that he
‘was next to Lieut Bate of Kelsterton when he was killed.’ and added that ‘I was buried four times but managed to get out of it. You see I am one of the lucky ones.’
Thomas’s Flintshire WW1 Index Card (Connah’s Quay F 1) confirms his army details above and tells of his mention in dispatches and was signed by J. W. Charlton on the 27th September 1919.
UK, De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1924 about Thomas Bate. – Name: Thomas Bate – Volume 3, Page: 18 – Bate, Thomas, Lieut., 1/5th (Territorial) Battn. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 2nd and only surv. s/o Thomas Bate, of Kelsterton, co. Flint, and his wife, Perenna, dau. of William Owen, of Blessington, co. Wicklow; b. Kelsterton, 1 July 1890; educ. Fonthill, East Grinstead, and Shrewsbury. He took up farming in Australia after leaving School; returning home and having a commission in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers (T.F.) in the early months of 1914, continued with them on the outbreak of war, and with them trained in England till July, 1915; subsequently went with them to Gallipoli; served with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Egypt and Palestine, and was killed in action near Gaza 26th March 1917. His Colonel wrote: “He died in a noble manner, leading and encouraging his men in the attack on the Turkish Position on 26 March. All who were near him during the attack bear witness as to his gallant conduct thoughout this day up to the time of his death. He was always to the fore, and showed an utter disregard to his own personal safety….. He was a fine fighting soldier and a favourite with all ranks. I have put his name forward for recommendation, and I hope it will go through. You have every reason to feel intensely proud of him,” and his servant: “He died a hero, if ever there was one. He was one of our best officers; his old platoon loved him. I lost my best friend when I lost Capt. Bate; I shall never forget him as long as I live. His first thought was about his men, and himself after. I never had a better master.” He was mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette, 22 may, 1917), for gallant and distinquished service in the field; unm.
Don’t know if this is the right Thomas BATE:- The London Gazette 4th February 1916:-
The Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Captain Richard Roberts to be temporary
Major. Dated 14th November, 1915.
Lieutenant Thomas Bate to be temporary
Captain. Dated 30th December, 1915.
Lieutenant David F. J. Morgan to be
temporary Captain. Dated 28th December,
T Bate in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 tells there was no Legatee – C.P. Cairo in April 1917 £16. 15s 6d and Transfer 2096 of £99. 11s 9d on the 30th June 1917.
Ireland’s Memorial Records. 1914 – 1918 – Bate, Thomas, Rank, Lieutenant, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 1/5th Batt.; killed in action, Gaza, Palastine, March 26, 1917. born Blessington; age 27.
Post script. Gwendoline Mary Owen Bates, sister to Thomas, married John William Charlton and they lived in Plas Bellin Northop. Their son Major John Roger Owen Charlton MC was killed in WW2 and is buried in what is now Libya.
In Loving Memory of Lieut. Roger Whitley BATE 3rd Batt. Royal Welch Fusiliers Killed at Rustpan, Boshof, Orange Free State, South Africa 7th December 1901 aged 19 years. Also of Thomas BATE 1/5th Batt. Royal Welsh Fusiliers Killed at Gaza, Palestine 26th March 1917 age 27 years. The Beloved only Sons of Thomas & Perenna BATE of Kelsterton, Flintshire. “For King and Country”
Special thanks to Peter Redfern Metcalfe of Flint who has been of great assistance in researching this soldier.