Lindon Wallace Bates Junior was born in Portland, Oregon, in the United States of America on 17th July 1883, the son of Lindon Wallace and Josephine (née White) Bates. His father was a civil engineer and the family home was at 615, Fifth Avenue, New York City.
Having crossed the Atlantic Ocean, in September 1897, he began his education at Harrow School in England and whilst there, he lived in the boarders’ house called The Park. He left there at Easter 1899 to return to the United States to finish his education at Yale University.
Like his father, he studied civil engineering and after his graduation, he followed him into this profession, being associated with the construction of the great embankment at Galveston, Texas and becoming an advocate of the sea level plan for the Panama Canal. His home at that time was at 71, Broadway, Manhattan, New York City, N.Y..
He also had an active interest in politics and was a Member of the New York Legislature and author of
The Russian Road to China and The Path of the Conquistadores.
On the outbreak of the Great War in Europe Lindon Bates became a member of The Commission for Relief in Belgian, which, as its name suggests existed to provide help for Belgian people distressed by the Great War. In the spring of 1915, in connection with this work, he decided to travel with two other leading lights in the movement, Madame Marie Depage and Dr. James T. Houghton and other supporters, to offer his expertise and help Belgium.
Consequently, he booked saloon passage for himself on the Lusitania and with ticket number 46165, he joined the liner on the morning of 1st May, at her berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour. Once on board, he was allocated room E69, which was the personal responsibility of First Class Bedroom Steward David Critchley, who came from Bootle, in Lancashire, down river from Liverpool. Also on board were Warren Pearl and his family, who were friends of the Bates family.
The liner’s departure for Liverpool was actually delayed until the early afternoon, to take on board passengers, cargo and some crew from the Anchor Liner
Cameronia, which had been taken up by the British Admiralty for war work as a troop ship. Then, six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, the
Lusitania was torpedoed by the German submarine U-20, twelve miles off the coast of southern Ireland and only 250 miles from her home port. She sank within 20 minutes. According to an account, published by Adolph and Mary Hoehling in their book The Last Voyage of the Lusitania, Lindon Bates:-
..... kept dashing inside the tilting black passageways until the water rose to deck level and he could no longer go below. Then he grabbed a chair for a life preserver and ran astern.
Despite this foresight, he did not survive the sinking and at first, nothing was ever found of his remains, despite his brother Lindell T. Bates, a lawyer, travelling to southern Ireland to help with the search. In fact his brother’s zeal nearly got him into trouble, as reported by The Sacramento Bee for 10th May 1915, under the title
American Arrested: -
Lindell T. Bates, son of Lindon W. Bates of New York, Vice Chairman of the American Committee for Relief in Belgium, was arrested at Kinsale yesterday, on a charge of espionage, while searching for the body of his brother Lindon W. Bates Jr. who is believed to have perished on the Lusitania. Newton B. Knox, an American mining engineer, who was with Bates, was taken into custody at the same time.
The Sergeant who made the arrests accused them of being officers of a German submarine. After being taken before a Captain, they were detained at the barracks half an hour until United States Consul Frost at Queenstown vouched for their innocence. Their search revealed no trace of the body of L. Bates Jr..
His body was eventually washed ashore at Blean, Kilgolgan, County Galway off the Doolin and Arran Islands, on the west coast of Ireland, on 31st July 1915, seven weeks after the liner had gone down. As may be imagined after nearly three months immersion in the sea, it was badly decomposed and only identified by a first class railway ticket found on it issued on board the
Lusitania for travel from Liverpool to London. There was also a pocket book bearing his name and a card with the name
MISS DOROTHY PERKINS, 76, PARK AVENUE.
It was eventually dispatched, on the liner S.S. St Paul, to his father, at 71, Broadway, in New York City, for burial. Funeral directors McDougall of Liverpool, undertook the treatment and shipping of the body, for which they were later paid £3-4s-0d., out of a sum of £6-19-6d., forwarded to Cunard by The Guarantee Trust Company of New York, which had its British offices at 33, Lombard Street, London. Lindon Bates was aged 31 years when he lost his life.
On 10th August 1915, the property recovered from his body was forwarded to Mr. Knox, the mining engineer, at 9, Upper Hamilton Terrace, London, by Mr. M Tennant, the American Consular Agent at Galway.
On 16th October 1915 administration of his estate in England was granted to his father, at London, his effects amounting to £413-15s-1d, (£413.75p.). His brother had already filed papers appertaining to his will in New York, on 27th May 1915, having obtained letters which testified to his death, from some of the Lusitania’s
At the time of his death, Lindon was becoming more and more involved in the company founded by his father, the Bates Engineering Company of New York City. His father’s health was beginning to slowly fail until he suffered a stroke which left him paralysed in 1921. The company also failed in this year, and three years later, in April 1924, Lindon Bates Sr. suffered a fatal stroke.
In September 1925, Josephine Bates was awarded $25,000.00 for the loss of her son from the Mixed Claims Commission, and Lindell, the sole beneficiary of his brother’s will, made shortly before he sailed on the
Lusitania, was awarded $7,450.00, which was the amount of cash and other possessions lost with his brother.
Although Doctor Houghton survived the sinking, both Madame Depage and Bedroom Steward David Critchley also perished like Lindon Wallace Bates Junior, as a result of the torpedoing.
After the sinking, no less a person than Albert, King of the Belgians, sent a sympathetic telegram to Lindon Bates Junior's father, whom, as we have seen, was at that time Vice Chairman of The Commission for Relief in Belgium. It read: -
I LEARN WITH DEEP AFFLICTION OF THE DEATH OF YOUR SON, TRAVELLING TO AID OUR DISTRESSFUL (sic) PEOPLE AND EXPRESS TO YOU MY MOST SINCERE SYMPATHY.
Lindon Bates Junior is commemorated on the Great War Memorial in Harrow School.
1900 U.S. Federal Census, 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Paul Courtney, Cunard Records, Mixed Claims Commission Docket No. 243, Joe Devereux, Rita M. Gibbs, Harrow School, Last Voyage of the Lusitania, Nyle Monday, New York Times, Probate Records, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, PRO 22/71, PRO BT 100/345, Sacramento Bee, Tragedy of the Lusitania, UniLiv.D92/1/2, UniLiv D92/2/266, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Stuart Williamson, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly