Albert Victor Bates was born in Caythorpe in 1897. His parents were Richard Bates, an ironstone miner from Timberland, and Martha Jane (nee Beck) from Holton le Moor. Martha died in April 1904, in the same week that Richard’s father William (76) had a fatal heart attack on his way home from work. They were buried at Caythorpe on the same day.
Richard re-married in late 1905 to Frances Hallam (24, born Ropsley). Albert volunteered for the 7th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment in Nov 1914 and was sent to France the following year, returning to Caythorpe for leave in Jan 1916. On 5th Aug 1916 he was wounded in action (for the 2nd time) and was later gassed.
On 23 Mar 1918 he was taken prisoner of war during the German advance in the Battle of Saint Quentin. He was now a sergeant, so during his captivity in Belgium the Germans put him in charge of a working party unloading barges of granite. It was hard work with little food (the population was starving in Germany due to the allied naval blockade). The POWs each had ½ loaf black bread and portion of ‘vegetable soup’ a day.
Albert and his team were badly treated by the Germans and did not receive any tobacco, letters or parcels. The fighting became more fluid in the final months of the war and the men were nearly recaptured several times. Some of them were killed by allied gunfire. They were released 2 days after the armistice and left to make their own way to the allied lines. Albert was very weak after 8 months in captivity and was de-mobbed in early 1919. Towards the end of June 1919 he was taken ill and eventually sent to a sanatorium at Bourne. His parents went to visit several times and found him cheerful; but he gradually became worse and died there on Friday 19th September 1919, aged 22. His body was brought back to Caythorpe church the following day and he was buried there the following Monday.