The WW2 Roll of Honour:
Surnames Y - Z

Captain  William Stanley Yeates


9th Leicestershire (Loughborough) Bn., Home Guard

Died on 28th March 1943, Aged 43.

Commemorated Leicester City Crematorium, Panel 6.


The adjourned inquest proceedings on the death of Captain William Standley Yeates, aged 43 years, 112, Knighthorpe Road. Loughborough, were held on Monday afternoon. Captain Yeates was fatally injured in a mishap during exercises of a Loughborough Home Guard Battalion, near Sawley, Long Eaton. - The inquiry was conducted by Mr., H, J. Deane.

Mr., A,B, Perkins represented the bereaved widow and Mr. R, J, Moore was present as a solicitor, representing, he said, an interested party. Dr, N, Schick, house surgeon at Loughborough Hospital, said that on March 29thhe made a post mortem examination. Externally except for light bruising about the chest there was no injuries. There was no indication of fracture of any limb, but on examining the chest he found that both lungs were completely deflated and ruptured.

In view of what witness knew of the circumstances he considered the cause of death was deflation of the lungs and hemorrhage. Derek Barker, 38, Tyler Avenue, Loughborough, maintenance electrician and a member of the Home Guard, said that on Sunday in question he and other members of the battalion were engaged in an exercise in the parish of Herington and about 11- 30 a.m. he was with Captain Yeates. 


One of the party was attacking people in a trench in a field near Sawley Lock and in the course of the operations Captain Yeates and witness crouched down behind a tree. Captain Yeates was carrying a case containing a "bomb",

The coroner mentioned that he called the article a "bomb" for the want of a better word. Witnesses noticed there was a fuse at the open end of the "bomb" and Captain Yeates lit the fuse holding the "bomb" in his hands at his left side.

The Coroner; How quickly after he lighted the fuse did the "bomb" explode? In a matter of seconds. It went off with one big bang. There was a small explosion and something appeared to fly in the air. Did you see anything shoot up into the air from it? Yes but nothing happened in the air. As soon as the explosion occurred Captain Yeates leaned forward and clutched his left hand. He toppled backwards into his lap. Witness asked him what was the matter and he did not reply.

A stretcher party attended to Captain Yeates. The Coroner: Did you notice wording printed in quite large type on the "bomb" carton. "Important: Place the "bomb" partly in the earth, light the fuse and stand away." The Coroner having read from the carton (produced), witness said he had not noticed the wording referred to. Had you seen any other "bombs" in his hands without any ill effects? 


Sergeant, C, Hawksley, 54, Nottingham Road, Lowdham, said he was acting as umpire in the field operations. He was about 20 yards from the scene of the accident at the time and ran to the assistance of Captain Yeates, when the explosion occurred. Witness had seen Captain Yeates holding the "bomb" in his hands and pointing it towards the trench.

Was there an immediate explosion?- No, it went off like a Chinese cracker for a few seconds and then there was one big explosion. Major H, L, Murray, second in command of the battalion, said that first of all the "bomb" in question was not authorized issue of any kind and had been procured and was being used by Captain Yeates on his own responsibility.

The Coroner commented that witness, with the consent of the Commanding Officer, let him examine a similar "bomb" (produced). The fact that the base was blown out of the "bomb" in question said Major Murray, indicated that it was more than possible the propelling charge had been displaced. To the Coroner witness said, Captain Yeates was a most enthusiastic and efficient officer of the Home Guard. He was exceedingly keen on his job. 


Replying to Mr., Moore, witness said he had seen Captain Yeates fire one of the "bombs" before. It was a firework.

Did he need your permission? Not necessarily. We have used fireworks for realism. They are manufactured by a firework company. Mr., Perkins: Do you know what the real purpose was? Major Murray said that the real purpose was to fire a rocket into the air. There were a number of small bangs and effects. Captain Yeates provided those "bombs" himself at his own expense, said witness. The Coroner, summing up, said, I am here to consider the case of a Home Guard officer, who I am told was exceedingly keen on the training of himself and his men and in order to assist in the training and to add to the reality of the proceedings he had with him a number of these what I have hitherto called "mortars" or "bombs" which, it now appears, are called mortar mines or "Shrapnel", causing a rattling fusillade in the air, and each of the "mortars has on it a type of considerable size the instructions as to how it is to be used, and the first of these instructions is that it should be pushed in sand or earth to at least a line that is marked on it.

Then there is provided at the end of a five foot stick a fuse for the person using it and he should get away quick. 


"What Captain Yeates did this day in his enthusiasm was to have a number of firework mortars with him, one of which he had previously let off without any ill effects. How that came to happen I do not know. The second time he did so it exploded and caused such a blast that his lungs were entirely deflated and in consequence he died from suffocation. That he intended that, of course, it could not be for a moment thought. That being so, of course it was an accident a very regrettable and sad accident and one which deprived the Battalion of a highly efficient officer." "But even all the best of us at times are thoughtless and perhaps even Captain Yeates in the anxiety to perfect himself and those under his training exceeded the bounds of ordinary caution and held this exceedingly dangerous weapon in his hands, ignited it, and therefore was killed in consequence." The Coroner returned a verdict of death from suffocation from deflation of the lungs, caused by the blast of a firework which he was holding in his hand." At the conclusion Major Murray said: "I would like publicly to express the deep sympathy of the Commanding Officer and ranks of the Loughborough Battalion of the Home Guard to Mrs. Yeates and her family in their sad loss." "Captain Yeates was a good soldier, an ideal leader, and I think the efficiency of his company is largely due to him- he had done more for his company and the training of his company than any other man in it and we all very deeply mourn his passing." Mr. Perkins; "On behalf of the widow I would very much like to thank you for those remarks. 

An appreciation of the late Captain, W, S, Yeates is given by Lieutenant, Col.H. J. Stamper, in the current orders of the local Home Guard. It reads: -

 "Captain Yeates was the ideal type of Home Guard officer, possessing, has he did, that alert mind, backed by many years of successful business experience, and he applied to this role just that administrative ability which ensured the smooth organization and running of the unit in its early days and which has led to the fine esprit de corps which we know now exists in this battalion. "As a soldier, Capt, Yeates retained an amazing amount of the knowledge gained in hid earlier experiences, but he was one of the first to admit the greatly changed conditions of modern warfare, and he was ever ready to take advantage of every possible course, and other methods, by which to gain up to date knowledge, and it was, I think, that keenness that every bit of training should have the greatest value that led to the accident which had such tragic consequences. "As a man, I think Captain Yeates exemplified the typical Britisher. He stood for those things which we, as a country, are fighting for today- freedom of thought, free down of expression, freedom of action, but, with that freedom, there was always a readiness to co-operate with his fellow men."