Medals and Badges Pfc. Arthur W. Bates, Jr. probably earned

Arthur W. Bates Jr.’s father was Arthur William Bates Sr., born in New Jersy in 1900. His father was born in England and his morher in Pennsylvania. Arthur W. Bates Jr.’s mother was Lillian Mary Denlinger, born in Pennsylvania in 1901. Her parents were born in Pennsylvania. Arthur William Bates Sr. and Lillian Mary Denlinger were married in 1919.

Their family consisted of:
Edward George Bates, 1921 - 1996
Arthur William Bates Jr., 1923 - 1945
Jack Leroy Bates, 1925 - presently living in Pennsylvania
Betty Lorraine (Bates) Hershey, 1926 - presently living in California

from left to right: Edward, Arthur Jr. and Arthur Sr.
Picture Courtesy of Beth (Bates) Gingrich

Arthur W. Bates, Jr. was born in Pennsylvania in 1923. Beth (Bates) Gingrich, Edward G. Bates’ daughter, told me: “ My father and Art Jr. were in the Army, while my uncle Jack served in the Navy. Arthur Jr., was known to me through my father ( Edward G. Bates) and other relatives by his nickname "Junie". I do not know a lot about Junie's younger years. As for my uncle, when he was a boy, I do recall that my father told me the boys rode bicycles, swam in a creek in the summertime, and their family always had a pet dog. One of those dogs would go with the boys when they went swimming, and it would join in by jumping in the water and swimming with them. I also recall that he told me Junie had a sense of humor, and would sometime like to play jokes.” 

Arthur W. Bates Jr. and Edward G. Bates
Picture Courtesy of Beth (Bates) Gingrich

Arthur Jr. spent 2 years in High School before he entered the service from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Before entering the service he was employed by the Columbia Umbrella Co. Art Jr. enlisted in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on January 6, 1941. Arthur Bates joined the service at age 18. He served in 2 US posts, while serving in the defense of the American Campaign. He served with the Motor Pool in Washington, DC, for two and one-half years before volunteering for the airborne infantry in July, 1943. Arthur Jr. was married in 1943 to Loretta Belcher.

Edward and Lillian Bates next to the Roll of Honor of their neighborhood for all the soldiers in service
Picture Courtesy of Beth (Bates) Gingrich

Pfc. Bates received his training at Fort Benning Ga. The training was separated in 4 stages. The first three weeks the men had to march as a group, ran nine miles every morning before breakfast, learned how to fold and pack their parachutes at the packing sheds, had callisthenics in the field, starting with side-straddle hops and going the full course to push-ups and other exercises. In the next stage took one week as the two following. In this second stage the men learning how to jump out of an airplane and how to land with a parachute. In the 3rd stage they used towers for the men to practice, so their jumps would be more realistic. The final stage was formed by 5 jumps out of a C-47. After jumping five times the paratroopers received the desired silver parachute wings.

A Bazooka team in action

In April 1944 the 504th Parachute Infanty Regiment (PIR) arrived in Liverpool, England. The Division commander decided to leave the 504th in England and not to let them jump in Normandy on D-day, because they had a casualtyrating of 25% after their return from Italy. In August 1944, during the time the 504th PIR was deployed to Leicester, England, Arthur W. Bates, Jr. joined Company A. Pfc. Arthur Bates served as an assistent Bazooka shooter of Pfc. Ervin Shaffer in the 3rd squad, 3rd Platoon, Company A, 504th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division. He served in the 3rd platoon under the command of 1st Lieutenant Robert S. Currier (KIA September 21, 1944).

The Bazooka was the Allies standard infantry anti-tank weapon. It was operated by a trained two man crew. The first man would position himself to fire while the second man loaded the weapon from the rear. When loading was finished, the second man would tap the first on the helmet and the first man would then fire.

Patch of the 504th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division

In England the men had a good time. The American soldiers had more money to spent and better looking uniforms than the English soldiers. The GI’s took advantage of that and spent a lot of time hanging out in the bars and having fun with the lots of girls.

Not everything in England was fun. The men had to train all the time for planned jumps into occupied Europe, but they were all cancelled short before they had to take place. In September 1944, the men were informed that they were going to make another jump, they didn’t know where. This one wasn’t cancelled. The operation, Operation Market-Garden, was an airborne attack deep in the Germans rear areas (Market) in conjunction with a ground attack by the British Second Army (Garden).

The airborne attack was designed to lay a carpet of airborne troops along a narrow corridor extending approximately eighty miles into Holland from Eindhoven northward to Arnhem. The airborne troops were to secure bridges across a number of canals as well as across three major water barriers-the Maas, the Waal (the main downstream branch of the Rhine), and the Neder Rijn (Lower Rhine) Rivers. Through this corridor were to pass British ground troops in a push beyond Arnhem to the IJsselmeer (Zuider Zee). The principal objective of the operation was to get Allied troops across the Rhine. Three main advantages were expected to accrue: cutting the land exit of those Germans remaining in western Holland; outflanking the German’s frontier defenses, the West Wall or Siegfried Line; and positioning British ground forces for a subsequent drive into Germany along the North German plain.

Paratroopers over The Netherlands

The Company A, among them Pfc. Arthur Bates, made it well to Holland. During their flight they received German anti-aircraft fire, but didn’t took down any of the planes. Sgt. Ervin E. Shaffer remembers: "........We parachuted in to the open field near the windmill outside Nijmegen. Bates and I used the drain ditch for our cover along the road. Three German ME-109 aircraft flew very slow at tree-top height looking for our positions. I told PFC Bates to load the Bazooka, which I was holding on my shoulder, so he put a rocket shell in and secured the wire for fixing. I raised the Bazooka to shoot down one of the airplanes. Then our commanding officer shouted, "hold your fire"........." The 3rd squad moved out and dug in near the windmill. They stayed there that night and the following day.

Then the men moved towards the Waal River for a scheduled crossing. After their arrival they had to wait near the riverbank for the canvas boats to cross. Meanwhile they watched the English tanks that had to cover their crossing and waited. Finally, the boats arrived and at 15.00 hours the first boats crossed. Company A crossed the Waal River in the 4th wave at 16.00 hours. They received heavy German machine gun fire during their crossing.

A Company´s DZ and battle area during Operation Market Garden (click on picture to enlarge)

Sgt. Shaffer told me: ".......When we crossed the river in rowboats Bates and I were in the same boat. We had no oars and the men who had rifles rowed using the stock of of their rifles for oars. On the other side, we ran to take cover at the embankment and went over the road down into an open field and suddenly we saw the German Fort (Fort Hof van Holland) with a moat around it. The bridge to the tunnel entrance was in place so we ran into the fort. A Sergeant was first, I was second, and Bates third to enter. The Germans who were there surrendered, there were twelve or fourteen, the others were at the bridge fighting, which was captured of others of our regiment........" The German POWs were soldiers of the Waffen-SS.

After they captured the Fort they moved on and dug in at 2.00 hours. On September 21, Pfc. Arthur Bates lost his platoon commander, Lieutenant Robert S. Currier. He was hit by German machine gun fire.

About September 26, 1944, it became evident that Operation Market Garden failed in it’s main target. The captured ground had to be held and as the British didn’t had the men to do the Airborne had to occupy parts of the captured areas.

After the 504th PIR withdraw from “the Island” they had to hold the Den Heuvel Woods (known as The Hill Woods) east of Nijmegen, near the German border. Company A had to hold the northern part of the Duivelsberg from there they had a clear view over the Waal River east of Nijmegen, and the German positions. Each day the Germans shelled the area and the men walked some patrols to watch the German movement.

Sgt. Ervin E. Shaffer told me "PFC Bates and I were always near each other during our time at and near Nijmegen. When the Germans made their attempt to recover lost ground in Belgium, “Battle of the Bulge”, we were together for a few weeks."

Sgt. Ervin E. Shaffer (at that time Private First Class)

On December 16, 1944 the Germans smashed the thin held line in the Ardennes with a huge offensive. The Americans holding the Ardennes area were totally surprised and overran by the German force. The only reserve units were the 82nd and 101st Airborne, which just came back from the front in Holland.

On the 18th December, really early in the morning, Company A was waked at Camp Sissonne (France) to have a fast breakfast and then they were rushed into large open trucks. They were sent to Bastogne to defend that area because all the main roads for the German offensive came there together. Only the officers knew where they would go to, the rest didn’t know anything.

Then orders changed, the 101st was to go to Bastogne and the 82nd had to hold Houffalize. The Airborne Divisions had to block the German advance. A large collumn of US trucks rushed towards their goal. A part of A Company lost the trucks in front of them out of their sight and drove untill they came in Werbomont.

Map of Werbemont and Forest Gerolstein area (click on picture to enlarge)

At December 19, early in the morning, Pfc. Bates and the other A Company members arrived together in the woods just outside the village Werbomont on the road from Bastogne to Liege and Antwerp. It was cold and the ground was wet, but no snow yet. They had driven all day and when they arrived Pfc. Shaffer, probably together with Pfc. Arthur Bates, went on patrol, an outpost. Company A spent all day near Werbomont, untill the platoon commanders got briefed and had to take their men to Rahier, about 8 miles from Werbomont, to relieve some infantry elements.

In the morning of the 20th December Company A heard firing in the valley below Rahier. At 14.00 hours Pfc. Arthur Bates and the rest of the company was ordered to move to a Brume. They first went with trucks and later walked their way towards their objective. They passed thru Basse-Bodeaux, where a few civilians told them a way to get to Brume without first having to go thru Trois-Ponts. When they entered Brume they didn’t find a sign of German presence. Company A remained in Brume for the rest of the day. Company B and C were less lucky and got involved in heavy fightings near Cheneux.

Soon after the Company arrived in Brume the Captain wanted to know if they were in danger of a German attack and sent out some patrols to the La Venne and Trois-Ponts area. The patrols reported after they got back that they didn’t find German activity, although everybody heard fighting and explosions all the time.

Sgt. Shaffer said: "...On New Year’s eve, 1945, our platoon went on a patrol to attack the Germans in a village. The weather was near zero degrees, snow was knee deep. At the edge of the village a German began firing at us with a machine gun. Sergeant DeCamp was killed. I told Bates to follow me and we went down a hedge row and found an opening in the bushes. I told Bates to load the Bazooka, which he did. I said, “Go back down the hedge row and find cover. When I fire this Bazooka, the muzzle flash will be enough light for the Germans to see us. When I fire I will immediately run to your position.” Bates ran down the hedge row, I fired the Bazooka and ran to the new position. The Bazooka rocket hit the German position. After many shots were fired at the Germans we withdrew..."

Some days later Company A was trucked again to another village. The weather was worse now for the thin clothed paratroopers, there was a snowcarpet to their hips, temperatures below zero and fog all the time. That night everybody tried to find a nice warm place to sleep.

Elements of the 504th pushing thru the Ardennes

On January 30, 1945 Company A had to attack entrenched German positions on a mountain top. The German observers had a clear view from their positions and sent in their artillery fire which blew several men into pieces. Pfc. Shaffer wore a white snow cape, so the Germans thought he was in charge of the attack and concentrated their fire on him. Pfc. Shaffer and the others, among them Pfc. Bates retreated trying to get some armored support.

The 82nd Airborne as a whole faced great difficulty in holding position and beat the German penetration. The 504th PIR won a Presidential Unit Citation because they faced particularly heavy German attacks.

On February 1, the men finally received the order to attack the Siegfried Line. In the early hours of February 2, 1945 Company A moved into the attack from the east into Forest Gerolstein. Although the Germans mostly surrendered soon, they fought untill they knew they wouldn’t survive. The troopers moved forward under heavy machine gun fire to capture and take out bunker for bunker and pillbox for pillbox. The bunkers and pillboxes were covered with the vegetation of the area and hard to spot. The Company used Panzerfausts to knock out the German defenses, but they weren’t effective all the time. The Siegfried Line was equiped with mines of all kind and lots of booby traps. But because the Siegfried Line was built early in the war and lots of mines and traps lay there already for years and ofcourse of the extreme cold weather most of them didn’t work.

That day Pfc. Ervin Shaffer, Pfc. Arthur Bates’ friend, became the squadleader of the 3rd squad, 3rd platoon. Sgt. Shaffer remembers: "...When we crossed the Siegfried Line I was promoted to Sergeant and selected to lead the attack over a German bunker. I had given the Bazooka to another man and Bates may have been the gunner. We started up and over the huge Bunker, the snow was about knee deep. The man with the automatic rifle had fallen and injured his back so I took the gun from him and told his assistant to follow me. There was firing all around us and PFC Bates was hit and died. I looked over to my left side and two Germans were laying behind a machine gun. I pointed to automatic rifle at them, then coming out of my innermost being was the scripture from The Holy Bible, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay saith The Lord.” I knew I was not to kill them. I kicked the machine gun out of the hands of the gunner and we captured both of them..." Shaffer and other troopers laid down covering fire while two or three wounded men were rescued and the company withdrew to holding positons about fifty yards away to regroup and issue more ammuniton.

February 2, 1945 Pfc. Arthur W. Bates, Jr. was Killed in Action, probably at age 21. Sgt. Shaffer told me about Pfc. Bates..."PFC Bates was a good soldier. He was brave and courageous, a handsome man, well-mannered and a credit to our regiment..."

"Pfc. Arthur W. Bates Jr., twenty-two, son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur W. Bates, 450 W. King St., was killed in action Feb. 2 (1945), while serving with an paratroop infantry unit in Germany, according to a War Department telegram received by his wife, Mrs. Loretta Bates, of Branchville, N.J.
Pfc. Bates entered the service Jan. 6, 1941, and served with the Motor Pool in Washington, DC, for two and one-half years before volunteering for the airborne infantry in July, 1943.
He received his training at Fort Benning Ga., and left for overseas duty in August 1944. He served with the 504th Parachute Infantry Battalion in five major engagements in Holland, Belgium, France and Germany.
Before entering the service he was employed by the Columbia Umbrella Co.
Besides his parents and his wife, the former Loretta Belcher, of Branchville N.J., he is survived by two brothers, Jack L. Bates, a petty officer in the Navy, stationed in the South Pacific, and G. Edward Bates, of Lancaster, and a sister, Betty L. Bates, at home."

In 1945, Loretta was expecting their first child. That child, Bonnie Lee (Bates) Skiles, was born the month after “Junie” died. Bonnie was adopted by her grandparents, Art Sr. and Lillian, and was raised by them as their own daughter. Beth (Bates) Gingrich also remembers: “My father was very fond of his younger brother, and Junie's daughter, Bonnie, was always very special to him, too.” Bonnie also lives in Lancaster, and she is married with two daughters and several grandchildren of her own.

Bonnie Bates next to her father's photograph
Picture Courtesy of Beth (Bates) Gingrich

Arthur W. Bates Jr.'s grave has been adopted by Rick Demas. Pfc. Arthur W. Bates, Jr’s final resting place is, together with 7,989 brothers in arms, the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium, Plot E, Row 5, Grave 76.

Pfc. Arthur W. Bates, Jr´s grave
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)

Me next to Pfc. Arthur W. Bates, Jr´s grave
(Picture Courtesy of Rick Demas)

If anyone has information that may be of assistance to me about Pfc. Arthur W. Bates, Jr., please contact me at

Larry Alexander - "Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who Led the Band of Brothers"
Edward G. Bates
Beth (Bates) Gingrich
Bonnie (Bates) Skiles
Lori Wenrich
Frank van Lunteren -