Tributes to decorated Padiham war veteran and Legion stalwart (99)

A decorated Second World War veteran and Royal British Legion stalwart from Padiham has died just short of his 100th birthday.

By Dominic Collis
Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 9:35 am
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 9:38 am

Highly respected Mr Jim Bates served on convoy escort duty with the Royal Navy during the infamous Arctic Convoys, a perilous operation that saw him receive a commendation and medal from the Russian Navy. Jim also served in Operation Pedestal, the British plan to carry supplies to the island of Malta in1942, for which he received recognition.

It was Winston Churchill's plan to save the besieged and heavily bombed island, and although the convoy suffered a heavy loss including an aircraft carrier, it did manage to get through with vital supplies of fuel and war planes.

Jim received medals and other honours from the Maltese government over the last 20 years in gratitude for his and his comrades' service in protecting the island from the German and Italians.

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Second World War veteran Jim Bates with his family (from left to right) daughter Daphne and her husband Peter, Jim's sons Peter and Paul and Paul's wife Anne.

Closer to home, Jim will be remembered for his service to the local branch of the British Legion collecting for the Poppy Appeal, and was a familiar face at Remembrance Day services for many years.

Mr Bates died peacefully at home last Thursday in St Leonard's Street, Padiham where he has lived for around the last 60 years.

Born in Sabden, he was father to Daphne, Paul and Peter, and also leaves four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Paul said: "Dad was very well-known around Padiham and Burnley. He had lived on his own since the 1970s, he really was a remarkable man. Everybody loved him.

Jim in his Royal Navy days

"He wasn't the biggest socialiser but he enjoyed holidays to Malta and Benidorm. He was obviously best known for his work with the Legion and was president of the Poppy Appeal."

"After the war, dad entered the building trade and later worked as a security guard well into his 70s. He had always been a hard worker."

Thirty years ago Jim received a surprise decoration from the Russian government in recognition of his active service. The Russian Navy commemorative medal was sent to HMS Centurion in Gosport and arrived 40 years late as the cold war set in and put a stop to them.

Since then, Jim, who spent six years in the Navy, has been honoured every 10 years and last year, to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two, Jim was delighted to receive a rather special commemorative medal from the President of the Russian Federation.

Along with the medal Jim received a letter thanking him and his comrades on behalf of the Russian government for the role they played in helping to defeat Nazi Germany.

The letter went on to say: "Russian people do remember the dramatic and heroic story of the Arctic Convoys - a period of unique collaboration between Russia and Britain.

"Your heroism and courage will always be remembered and we strongly believe that this inseparable bond between our two nations should be preserved."

From August, 1941 to May, 1945 the convoys delivered more than four million tons of cargo to Russia including at least 7,000 planes, 5,000 tanks, trucks, tyres, fuel, food, medicine, clothes, metals and other raw material.

Thousands of Allied seamen lost their lives as the British ships sailed the stormy waters of the Arctic ocean under constant threat from German U-boats and aircraft.

His funeral will be held on Friday, July 30th with a Requiem Mass at 9-40am at St John the Baptist RC Church, Padiham, followed by cremation in Accrington at 11am. A wake will then be held at Molly Rigby's social club in Padiham.