GATES, Cecil Alexander ( D.C.M.)

No.6658, Company Sergeant Major, Cecil Alexander GATES D.C.M.
Aged 27

2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Tuesday, 11th May 1915

He was an Old Contemptible

Cecil Gates was born in Nayland in 1888 baptised in Nayland on 13th May 1888, son of George William and Elizabeth GATES (née WARREN).

1891 census...Aged 3, he was at High Street Cottages, Stetchworth with his father George GATES [29] a butcher, born Waltham Abbey; his mother Elizabeth [31] born Halstead, brother Charles [5] born Nayland and grandfather Samuel WARREN [60] born Nayland

1901 census...Aged 13, he was at High Street, Stetchworth with his parents, and brothers Edward [9], George [8], Archibald [5], Reginald [3] and Victor [9 months] and sister Beatrice [[6]. All his siblings were born in Stetchworth.

1911 census...Aged 23, single, he was at Barrosa Barracks, Stanhope Lines, Aldershot with the 2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. His parents and brothers George, Archibald, Reginald, Victor and Richard [8] were still in Stetchworth High Street. One of the 10 children had died, Constance, born and died in 1889.

His younger brother George was killed in France in 1917. see here

His eldest brother, Charles William was a regular in the Royal Navy, served through WW1 and was killed in an accident aboard HM Submarine Utmost in 1940 see here

He enlisted in Bury St Edmunds.
The citation for his Distinguished Conduct Medal reads:
6658 C.S.M. C. Gates 2nd Bn,
For conspicuous devotion to duty throughout the campaign, notably at Le Cateau, where he showed great gallantry in fetching ammunition. (30.6.15)

In addition he was awarded the Cross of St George by Russia (the right hand medal above)

In "The History of the Suffolk Regiment" by Lt.Col. CCR Murphy it is recorded that :-
The 2nd battalion, still in the Vierstraat area in April, were left to hold the brigade front opposite Wytschaete Ridge, on the edge of the storm raging around Ypres. This they continued to do with only inter company relief until they returned to La Clytte toward the end of May....On May 11th CSM C.A. Gates D.C.M. and Cross of St.George was killed by a shell outside of the HQ dugout. C.S.M. Gates was one of the heroes of Mons and Le Cateau, and as cool and gallant a solder as ever served the King.

Cecil was originally buried, with 22 others, in Rest and be Thankful Farm cemetery and re-interred in Wjtschaete in December 1919

photo: Rodney Gibson

Cecil Gates D.C.M. is buried in Wjtschaete Military Cemetery, Belgium - grave 4:A:7

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details