George Melvin Yates
Date of birth: 1885
Date of death: 19.12.1915
Area: Outwood, Wakefield
Regiment: Royal Field Artillery
Family information: Husband of Katherine Yates nee Raleigh
Service number: 33872
In the absence of his service record it is not certain when George Melvin Yates joined the Army. However it is known that he landed in France on the 11th September 1914, a bombardier in the Royal Field Artillery.
Bombardier Yates was serving with 53rd Battery of the 2nd Brigade, RFA, which had been based in Ireland when the war began. On mobilisation the 2nd Brigade came under the orders of the 6th Division of the British Army. After landing at St Nazaire on 11th September 1914, the 6th Division travelled across France to the River Aisne, to join the counter-offensive against the enemy. Here the Division was involved in the action at Aisne Heights, before the British Army was redeployed to Flanders. In the weeks that followed there was heavy fighting as the allies fought to defend the route to the Channel ports. These actions led to the establishment of the Ypres Salient. The 6th Division remained in the Ypres area and in July and August 1915, was involved in the actions at Hooge.
The Artillery was usually deployed some distance behind the front line trenches, in an attempt to hide their presence from the enemy. However, even if the enemy balloon observers and spotter aircraft did not locate their position, the flash from their own guns would often give their position away. As a consequence the artillery positions would often be pounded by enemy shellfire, thus causing casualties and forcing frequent changes in position. During heavy enemy shelling the gun crews would withdraw to shelter beyond the wagon lines.
When attached to the 2nd Brigade RFA, based in Flanders, George Melvin Yates was promoted to Sergeant. During the autumn of 1915 he was given home leave and on his return to England married Katherine Raleigh, the marriage being registered at Wakefield. Kate was the daughter of William and Kate Raleigh, market gardener of Springfield Terrace, Outwood.
On his return to Flanders Sergeant Yates was seriously wounded and taken to the Casualty Clearing Station at Lijssenthoek. Lijssenthoek is a village 12 km west of Ypres, on the main road to Poperinge, which was the main line of communication between the bases in the rear and the Ypres Salient.
Unfortunately, on the 19th December 1915, George Melvin Yates died from his wounds and was buried in the nearby Military Cemetery. The cemetery now contains 9,901 Commonwealth burials and 883 burials of other nationalities, mainly French and German, from the First World War.
On 24th April 1919 his wife Katherine Yates, then living at Snow Hill, Alverthorpe, died and was buried at Outwood Cemetery. George Melvin Yates is not remembered on the Outwood War Memorials, but his death is commemorated, alongside that of his wife, on her gravestone in Outwood cemetery.
George Melvin Yates was the son of James Hammond Yates and his wife Mary, formerly Melvin. He was born in 1885, when the family was living at Idle, in Bradford and his father was a grocer. In 1887, when George Melvin Yates was only two years old, his mother died. His father did not re-marry and in 1901 the family was living at Carr Lane, Shipley. At this time George Melvin had left school and was serving an apprenticeship with a joiner. In the 1911 census George Melvin was shown as an assistant in his father’s grocery shop, at Shipley, Bradford.