Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The 2/4th Battalion)

Research and Resources around the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry during WWI

Archive for the tag “Frederick William Bateman”


The Battle of Fromelles – Order of Battle for British and German forces.

The Battle of Fromelles – Order of Battle for British and German forces.

Extracted From The Regimental Chronicles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

The 61st Division were to attack on the line from Bedford Row to Bond Street, the 184th Brigade on the front from Sutherland Avenue exclusive to Bond Street inclusive, the 183rd Brigade were on the right, and the Australian Division on the left.

The 2/1st Bucks and the 2/4th Berks were in the trenches and were to make the attack, one Company (C) of  the Battalion was in immediate reserve just north of the Rue Tilleloy, and the remainder of the Battalion remained in reserve at their billets. Owing to a misunderstanding of orders, a platoon of C Company, which was destined to carry trench-mortar ammunition across No Man’s Land after the attack had been established in the enemy’s trenches, was kept in the front line and suffered very heavily in the bombardment. An intense bombardment was kept up from 11 a.m. till 6p.m., when the assault was delivered, but owing to the machine-gun fire of the enemy the assaulting Battalion could not get across No Man’s Land and suffered very heavy losses.

About 7 p.m. the Battalion was loaded on to motor-buses and moved up towards the firing-line, and was sent up to take over the line held by the Berks and the Bucks. The relief was completed by 11, and at 11.30 the C.O., who had been ordered to remain at the Battle Headquarters, received orders to organize an attack with two companies on the Sugar Loaf, being told that he would find a party of Engineers with consolidating material at a certain point for which he was to provide a carrying company.

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose M.C. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

This harassing warfare had a crisis in July. The operations of July 19, which were shared with the 61st Division by the 5th Australian holding trenches further north, were designed as a demonstration to assist our attack upon the Somme and to hold opposite to the XI Corps certain German reserves, which, it was feared, would entrain at Lille and be sent south. That object was achieved, but at the cost of severe casualties to the divisions engaged, which were launched in daylight after artillery preparation, which results proved to have been inadequate, against a trench-system strongly manned and garrisoned by very numerous machine-guns. The objectives assigned to the 61st Division were not captured, while the Australians further north, after entering the German trenches and taking prisoners, though they held on tenaciously under heavy counter-attacks, were eventually forced to withdraw. ‘The staff work,’ said the farewell message from the XI Corps to the 61st Division three months later, ‘for these operations was excellent.’ Men and officers alike did their utmost to make the attack of July 19 a success, and it behoves all to remember the sacrifice of those who fell with appropriate gratitude. It was probably the last occasion on which large parties of storming infantry were sent forward through ‘sally ports.’ The Battalion was in reserve for the attack. C Company, which formed a carrying party during the fighting, lost rather heavily, but the rest of the Battalion, though moved hither and thither under heavy shelling, suffered few casualties. When the battle was over, companies relieved part of the line and held the trenches until normal conditions returned.


3560 Lance Sergeant Arthur Lunn

Corporal Reginald Harding

5417 Private Frederick William Bateman

5148 Private Charles Bryden

202028 Private Sidney Butler

2990 Private George Jones

6736 Private William John Jones (Formerly 1347, Welsh Regt.)

4317 Private George Edward L. Simpson

4167 Private William Arthur Taylor

3022 Private George Tolley

From the War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment


Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Laventie

Entry Artillery preparation opened at 11am attack at 6pm 2/1 BUCKS on our LEFT. AUSTRALIAN Division on Left of 2/1 BUCKS. 183rd Bde on our Right and 182nd Bde on Right of 183rd Bde, 8th and 61st Divisional Artillery behind our lines. Casualties Officers 3 Killed (Lt Col J H BEER, 2/Lieut G S ABBOTT and 2/Lieut F C D WILLIAMS) and 2 wounded (Major T SHIELDS and 2/Lieut D R GIBSON). Other ranks 35K, 115W and 8 Shell Shock. Bn relieved by 2/4 OXFORD and BUCKS LI at 1030pm. Marched back into billets at RUE DE LA LYS (G.27.c.2.2 1/2).

Frederick William Bateman, died July 19, 1916, Fromelles

Uncle may be in soldiers’ mass grave

From the Bicester Advertiser, first published Tuesday 12th Aug 2008.

THE nephew of one of Oxford’s First World War soldiers believed to have been buried in a mass grave in France has shed some light on his uncle’s life.

Frederick William Bateman was a private in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry when he died, aged 25, on July 19, 1916.

It is believed he was among thousands of Allied dead at the Battle of Fromelles, which raged for 24 hours from July 19, 1916.

Private Bateman has never been formally buried and his could be among about 400 British and Australian soldiers’ bodies discovered in a nearby mass grave in June.

The governments of Britain and Australia have now agreed to exhume and individually re-bury those remains.

After reading an article, Private Bateman’s nephew, Stanley Bateman, of Cromwell Way, Kidlington, contacted us.

Mr Bateman, 80, who lives with his wife Mary, 82, said: “I was a bit surprised to see it in the paper. I was surprised because my grandmother and my father said that he was not killed like that at all.

“They said that had been killed by a shell exploding in a trench, but I don’t know much about it.”

A war diary from the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, unearthed by Eynsham historian John Blakeman, indicates shells did cause a number of deaths during the battle.

The diary reads: “19/07/16: ‘ZERO’ was at 11am and at that hour our bombardment started. By 5.30pm we had lost nearly 100 men killed and wounded by shell fire.”

The Battle of Fromelles, which was an Allied attempt to divert German resources from the Somme, about 50 miles to the south, was an abject failure which saw 5,533 Australian casualties (killed, wounded or captured) and 1,547 British casualties.

The diary continues: “The whole attack was unsuccessful in that the enemy’s trenches, though penetrated, were not consolidated and held.

“One of the most striking lessons to be learnt from this attack is that the greatly superior method of holding trenches, adopted by the Germans, should be at once followed by the British and French armies.”

Private Bateman was the son of Frederick and Esther Bateman, of 49 Botley Road, West Oxford. He had three sisters, Ada, Betty and Florence, and a brother, Frank, who is Stanley Bateman’s father.

Mr Bateman, who himself served in the Navy from 1946 to 1949 before working at Morris Motors, in Cowley, for 30 years, said: “Before he joined the Army he was what was known in those days as an outrider for a store in Park End Street.

“My grandmother, Esther, was a Londoner but I don’t know where my grandfather was from – he was a full-time soldier.

He added: “I know my father, Frank, was in the First World War and I am not sure but I think he was also in the Boer War.”

Mr Bateman and his 76-year-old sister, Mary, who now lives in Long Hanborough, west Oxfordshire, are the only two remaining members of the family.

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