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Remembering the First World War fallen - Robert Bateson

Robert’s father, Thomas Roger Bateson, had been a soldier before he became a carpenter, and later a grocer, so it was not surprising that young Robert joined the Territorials well before the outbreak of the First War.

The Bateson’s were from Settle, but during Robert’s teenage years, they ran The Craven Stores, a grocer’s shop in Elm Tree Square, Embsay. The Batesons were members of the Trinity Wesleyan Church in Skipton.

In 1913, at the age of 18, Robert enlisted in the local Territorials, getting a taste of army life in his spare time, when not working at his father’s shop. By this time they had moved to Russell Street in Skipton. Robert’s brief residency in Embsay means he is not commemorated on our local war memorial. Nevertheless he was formerly part of the village, so he is being commemorated here.
[He is not to be confused with Robert Bateson of Bell Busk, who served with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and died in 1917.]

As a Territorial he would have been called up for the British Expeditionary Force immediately on the declaration of war, and sent to France. His initial posting was with the 1/6th West Riding Regiment.

In April 1916 he was discharged, but immediately re-enlisted at the Lincoln recruiting office, joining the 9th Lincoln Regiment. His service records do not explain why he wasn’t simply transferred from one Regiment to the other, although the fact that he was now in “Class B Reserve” may indicate he was no longer 100% fit and healthy. Nevertheless, he was soon back in France, and quickly transferred again, in September, as soldiers from his regiment were used to bolster the falling numbers of the 1st Battalion, Trench Mortar Battery, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. On December 19th the battalion were moved back from the front line at Fregicourt, to the reserve trenches. Over the next two days 2 officers and 3 soldiers were killed, and 4 wounded. One of those wounded on 22nd December was Private Bateson. 
His parents received this telegram :
To Bateson 64 Russell street Skipton Yorks.
Regret inform you that 27125 private Bateson R R Lancaster Regt dangerously wounded France regret permission to visit cannot be granted.

Private Robert Bateson (service no. 27125) died in a Casualty Clearing Station of gunshot wounds to his legs and arms on the day before Christmas Eve 1916, and was buried in the Grovetown Military Cemetery at Meaulte.

You can find his name on the Skipton cenotaph and Holy Trinity Church’s brass memorial plaques
We know very little else about this young man, who died on the Western Front in France at the age of 22. We know his parents and older brother Willie (who served with the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment) missed him very much, as they placed an annual tribute to him in the Craven Herald for several years. He was also missed by a “loving friend”, Miss Hilda Thompson, who also paid annual tributes to him until 1921, when she sent in the message: “Though lost to sight, to memory ever dear.” She was a cotton weaver and stayed single until she eventually married a man 20 years her senior, in 1939. They both died in 1952, Hilda never having moved from the house she grew up in, just a few moments’ walk away from where Robert had worked in his father’s shop when they were both young.

Jane Lunnon, Embsay Research Group

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