Organisations/clubs: Young Men’s Christian Institute
Rolls of Honour: Christchurch, Windhill
Regiment: Royal Field Artillery
George Melvin Yates
George was born in 1886, the son of James Yates a grocer and beer seller. George’s mother was dead before the 1891 census was taken, at which time the family lived at Oswald Street, IdleGeorge enlisted in 1914 as a bombardier and was promoted to corporal in November that year. The following month he sent a letter home thanking his family for their letters and food parcels.‘It feels a treat to have a change of diet after the same old thing day after day, although we must not grumble,’ he wrote. ‘I think the way in which we have been provisioned in this campaign is marvellous. ‘If anybody had told me that fellows could have stood what they are doing in this country I would not have believed them.‘Yesterday we had a luxury – a hot bath. It was a treat, although not as comfortable as at home but the best thing we have had out here yet, better than a meal in fact. It is surprising what one gets used to and we were getting accustomed to being without a bath.‘Did I tell you about meeting my old battery? It felt like old times to see some of the boys again although the majority of them had gone. The
major was still there; he has had a good spell with them and is still very popular. They went through Mons so had a pretty rough time.’Cpl Yates was clearly getting copies of the local newspapers because he added: ‘The Bradford Pals seem to be a fine force. Is there any likelihood of their coming out yet? I see they are getting a big spread up for them at Christmas. Bradford appears to be leading the way in the West Riding. I read Mr Percy Illingworth’s (Shipley’s Liberal MP) address and I think that Shipley is well represented. He is a fine fellow.’In another letter home, dated 10 January 1915, Cpl Yates wrote about the very rough weather he and his men were experiencing in France but added that he had plenty of warm clothes. He asked to be sent some ‘eatables and a few cigarettes.’The next we read of George is on 7 January 1916: ‘Mr J H Yates of 53 Carr Lane, Windhill, has received word that his youngest son, Sgt George Melvin Yates of the Royal Field Artillery, has been wounded.‘Sgt Hullah, a chum of the wounded soldier, writes to say that Yates was repairing his gun pit when a shell burst behind and a piece caught him on the head. He adds that his chum is a
great favourite in the battery‘Sgt Yates’s wife resides at East Ardsley.’AA memorial service was held at Christchurch, conducted by the curate, Rev H A Moreton, who gave a short address.‘Mr J A Firth, organist and choirmaster, presided at the organ and solos were rendered by Mr Harry Wheatley. At the close the organist played the dead march from Saul.’
In the letter of 10 January, he included a poem he had written during a brief respite in the firing line:Our place of abode is a place of rest,Though behind the guns we are fully dressed.Fully united four countries in one,The Kaiser must know we are not out for fun.We shall avenge poor Belgium in good English styleThen the Kaiser’s face will not wear a smile,For we skin the sausages in the good old style,And make them run for many a mile.Now Yorkshire lads in factory, shop and mineJoin Kitchener’s Army. Tis a perilous time.Don’t be afraid, it is a great causeTo keep the old country from German laws.So don’t hang back, but wear khakiCome fight for England, the land of the free.