Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Gunner Ezra Yates, "B" Battery, 278th (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action on the Somme.
One of a family of ten children, on leaving school he was employed as a spinner at G. & R. Dewhurst, a textile firm at Cuerden Mill in Bamber Bridge, south of Preston in Lancashire. He enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery on the 8th of December in 1913.
The brigade was originally the 4th West Lancashire Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, Territorial Force; they landed at Le Havre on the 1st of October in 1915, and Gunner Yates’ battery took up positions at Lindenhoek at the foot of Mont Kemmel in Flanders. In May the brigade was re-organised and the 8th Lancashire Battery became “B” Battery. On the 20th of July the batteries travelled from the relative quiet of the Crinchon Valley to join in the Battle of the Somme.
On the 1st of August they went into action at Maricourt Wood facing Guillemont village, the front line being under heavy bombardment by the Germans. They had little cover other than some captured enemy dugouts and suffered continuous firing; they worked in shifts relieved only by gunners from the waggon lines. It was during this bombardment that Gunner Yates lost his life. He is buried in the Quarry Cemetery at Montauban, just south of Martinpuich in France. On his gravestone are carved the words: “Thy will be done.”
Ezra, from Bamber Bridge in Lancashire, was 20 years old.