The only son of Maj Cecil Robert Bates DSO MC, Geoffrey was born in 1921 and was educated at Radley, he spent his childhood at Oxendon, near Market Harborough.

Geoffrey was commissioned into the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars in 1941, a regiment whose Colonel was Brig Van de Byl, a cousin of his mother’s. The Regiment was in the 8th Army and Geoffrey soon joined them in the desert where he earned a reputation as a dashing and brave troop leader, probably a spirit gained from his hunting with the Pytchley.

He was awarded the Military Cross in 1942. The Regiment returned with the Armoured Division to the UK in time for the invasion of Normandy where again Geoffrey was noted for his bold action.

When an appointment came vacant as ADC to Gen Sir Neil Ritchie, Commander of the 12th Corps, Geoffrey was posted to a quieter life and at the end of the war, he followed Gen Ritchie to Edinburgh upon his appointment as GOC Scottish Command.

Geoffrey did not return to regimental service but was demobilised at the end of 1945 in order to take up a directorship with Edward Bates and Sons in Liverpool; Geoffrey succeeded to the Baronetcy upon the death of his uncle Percy in 1946.

In 1945 Geoffrey had married Kitty, daughter of Ernest Kendal- Lane of Saskatchewan and they lived at Mollington near Chester where their two sons were born, Edward and Richard. Geoffrey’s primary task with Edward Bates was the active management of the London and Kano Trading Company so much of his time was spent in Nigeria but it did not prevent him from following the family characteristic of being a good shot and an exceptionally keen fisherman. Alas, Kitty suddenly died following a minor operation.

Some 12 months later Geoffrey met Olivia Fitzroy, daughter of the 2nd Viscount Daventry and a wedding soon followed as Geoffrey’s characteristic dash allowed no hesitation.

In 1957, after the death of his uncle, Fred Bates, Geoffrey and his family moved to Gyrn Castle, an estate in North Wales that needed hands-on management.

Olivia wrote several children’s books and also notably the regimental history of the 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars for 1927-1958 called Men of Valour. Alas, Olivia died in 1969 and Geoffrey was left with four children and a large castle.

Geoffrey was High Sheriff of Flintshire in 1969 and on the board of the Globe Insurance Company, a Regional Director of the Trustee Savings Bank and Chairman of the School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool, which school had cured him of typhoid following a visit to Nigeria.

He gave much of his time to the Flint and Denbigh Hunt being, in turn, their treasurer, secretary, and clerk of the course for their point to point at Eaton Hall, where Geoffrey rode his well-known horse, Sam, with the same dash as with the Irish Hussars, in hunt races as well as leading the Flint and Denbigh field.

For a time Geoffrey was a squadron leader in the Cheshire Yeomanry, the People’s Warden in Llanasa Parish and sundry other appointments where he gave service to others than himself.

Geoffrey is probably the most unusual and unconventional member of a family that were leaders of business and shipping in Liverpool. Despite having a sad life with two wives dying and one daughter killed he never lost his sense of fun, good humour and generous spirit. He was full of ideas to brighten the day and would never take no for an answer from the most difficult person or official.

A friend suggests that Geoffrey would have been the ideal companion on a desert island, efficient with his hands through his raft of driftwood might have capsized and what a laugh it would have raised.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 8th Hussars
  2. Middle East (Egypt and Libya) timeline
  3. Gallantry Award: Citation and Award for the Military Cross: Lt GW Bates – 8H