Arthur Gerald Vavasour Yates, 2nd Lieutenant, 1/16th Battalion, London Regiment (Queen’s Westminster Rifles)
Killed in action 1st July 1916 in Somme, France, aged 29
Arthur Gerald Vavasour Yates was born in Macclesfield in late 1886, the son of Annie and Hercules Campbell Yates, the Coroner for Macclesfield, and was known as Gerald. In 1891 four year old Gerald was living at The Rookery, Bollington Road, Bollington Cross, with his parents and siblings Reginald (7), Hercules (6), Percy (3) and baby Annie, under twelve months old. Ten years later the family was at the same address and included another child, eight year old Marjory.
Gerald was educated at the Macclesfield Grammar School, which he entered in September 1898 at twelve years of age. He left in December 1903, having been a prominent member of the cricket and football elevens, and in May 1904 was articled to Mr Charles Blunt, solicitor, of the firm of Messrs. Blunt and Brocklehurst, King Edward Street, Macclesfield, passing his final examination in early 1909 with second class honours.
By 1911 the family had moved to The Lower Beech, Tytherington, Macclesfield, and Gerald’s mother had died in 1908. Gerald was still employed as a solicitor with Blunt and Brocklehurst, and his younger siblings were all living on ‘private means’. The Lower Beech was a large sixteen-room property and the family employed four servants: a cook, a parlourmaid, a housemaid and a kitchenmaid.
Gerald remained with the firm of Messrs Blunt and Brocklehurst until the outbreak of war, when he immediately enlisted as a private in the Artists’ Rifles. In December 1915 he received a commission in the Queen’s Westminster Rifles, and was drafted to France in March 1916. He was killed in action four months later, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 7th July 1916:
LIEUT A G V YATES KILLED – THE CORONER’S HEAVY LOSS
We deeply regret to announce that yesterday Mr H C Yates, J.P., the District Coroner and Deputy Chairman of Cheshire Quarter Sessions, received an official intimation conveying to him the sad news of the death in action, while fighting in France, of his third son, Mr Arthur Gerald Vavasour Yates. The deceased officer, who held a commission in the Queen’s Westminsters, was well-known and highly popular in Macclesfield, and the news of his death will be received with feelings of deep sorrow by his many friends.
Lieut Yates was educated at the Macclesfield Grammar School, which he entered in September 1898 at twelve years of age. He left in December 1903, having been a prominent member of the cricket and football elevens. In May, 1904, Mr Yates was articled to Mr Charles Blunt, solicitor, of the firm of Messrs. Blunt and Brocklehurst, King Edward Street, Macclesfield, of which firm his father was at one time a member, and he passed his final examination in the early part of 1909, obtaining second class honours. Mr Yates remained with the firm of Messrs Blunt and Brocklehurst until the outbreak of war, when he immediately enlisted as a private in the Artists’ Rifles. At the end of last year he received a commission in the Queen’s Westminsters. He then visited his friends in Macclesfield and shortly afterwards was drafted out to the Front, where he has been ever since.
Lieut Yates’s name appears on the Roll of Honour of the Macclesfield Grammar School, and deep sympathy is felt with his father in his bereavement. Mr H C Yates, it will be recollected, lost his eldest son, who was killed through an accident in India some time ago. Another son is serving with the colours, being at present in training in England.
A further report was printed the following week, in the Macclesfield Times dated 14 July 1916:
SHOT WHILE LEADING HIS MEN – HOW LIEUTENANT YATES DIED
Lieut. Arthur Gerald Vavasour Yates… who… was killed in the early stages of the British offensive, fell while gallantly leading his men to the attack on the Germans. The offensive began at six o’clock in the morning on July 1st, and the brave young officer, taking charge after the captain had fallen, was killed outright when he was entering the German trenches….
2nd Lieut Gerald Yates has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel Ref. Pier and Face 13 A and 14 C. of the Thiepval Memorial in France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for 2nd Lieut Gerald Yates, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Locally, 2nd Lieut Gerald Yates is commemorated on the Macclesfield Grammar School and Prestbury St Peter’s Church war memorials, and is thought to be the ‘Yates’ named on the Macclesfield Cricket Club roll of honour.
Brother of Percy Dundonald (Donald) Yates, who served as Corporal M2/194441 with the RASC in East Africa and survived the war, despite suffering a broken wrist and contracting malaria.