Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Dedicated to his only son: Lieutenant Bernard Montague Basil Bateman MC, 24 July 1915

Trench’s Manoeuvre Orders 1914 is today a forgotten book. Its instructions on the conduct and organization of a modern army on the eve of the Great War seem antiquated a century after its first publication. But as a training manual for young officers it was much in demand in its time.  By 1915 it had gone through 11 editions.

Its author, Colonel Frederick John Arthur Trench CVO, DSO, Knight Commander of the Orders of the Royal Crown, of the Red Eagle, and of Saxe-Ernestine had had a distinguished service career, having been appointed Military Attaché at Berlin from 1906 to 1910.


In 1915 it was being edited by an army officer who was just as noted for his military service as the book’s author. Brigadier General Bernard Montague Bateman, born in 1865, had been educated at Wimbledon School before entering the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich; he was gazetted into the Royal Artillery in July 1884 and had served in the Boer War with distinction. From March 1915 he served in the Great War with the Heavy Artillery on the Western Front.

He would go on in 1916 to be created CMG and appointed Brigadier-General. In 1917 he was created an officer of the Légion d'Honneur, being three times mentioned in despatches. In December 1919 he retired from the army and settled with his wife Alice Maude, née Hinkson, in Budleigh Salterton, living at Southbrook, on West Hill. He died at a London nursing home on 15 March1937. Alice Maude Bateman died two years later in Budleigh Salterton, on 12 Oct 1939.


The trenches today: Sanctuary Wood, a few miles east of Ypres, in Belgium      ©  Mo Sandford FRPS 2014
More of Mo Sandford's remarkable photos of World War I battlefields can be seen here  The author Michael Morpurgo has described her work as "deeply moving and interesting."   

But in June 1915 he was based in Belgium, defending the Ypres Salient. So also was his only son, 24-year-old Bernard Montague Basil Bateman, a Lieutenant serving with the 133rd Battery, 21st Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery at Sanctuary Wood, near Ypres.


The award of the Military Cross had been created only a year previously, on 28 December 1914

The father would no doubt have been quick to learn the news that the younger Bernard's bravery under fire had resulted in his being awarded the Military Cross. However he was devastated to hear that the young officer had been injured. The citation made mention of the Lieutenant’s  “conspicuous gallantry” on 10 June,  when young Bernard was “dangerously wounded in endeavouring to restore telephone communication under very severe fire.” 

Sadly young Bernard did not recover from his wounds. 

His father was working on the 12th edition  of Trench’s Manoeuvre Orders 1914 when he received news of the death of Lieutenant Bateman on 24 July.

And that is why the 12th edition which appeared in 1916, published by William Clowes, is dedicated to B.M.B.B.  24.7.15

The book is available to read online here

Lieutenant Bateman’s body was brought back to Britain, where his mother Alice Maude was the informant of his death, registered in Lambeth.

His ashes are at Golders Green Crematorium in London, as are those of his father Brigadier General Bateman who would die 22 years later.    

‘The Great War at Fairlynch’ 2015 exhibition at Budleigh Salterton’s very special museum! Reviews included: “Wonderful display on WW1, informative, bright and relevant. Well done!! 


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