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Victorian Naval Forces Muster

for the Colony of Victoria. (muster range 1853-1910)*


Last Name:Bates
First Name:John Arthur
Rank:Lieutenant Commander
Birth Date: 20-03-1852
Branch:Victorian Navy

John Arthur (Daddy) Bates

20-03-1852 to Jan 1935 
  • First entry 5 April 1876.
  • Promoted Warrant Officer 1 January 1889
  • Seconded to HMCS Protector for trip to China in 1900
  • Chief Gunner (g)(T)(Commissioned Warrant Officer) 1 July 1911.
  • Lieutenant ADNO (Assist District Naval Co-ordinator) 1 January 1914
  • Lieutenant Commander 1 january 1922
  • Died in Melbourne January 1935.
J A Bates  

in 1900

Lieutenant Commander J. A. Bates was born at Buckinghamshire in 1852 and died in January 1935. He served his time in the mercantile marine until he took malaria in Madagascar in 1871. He was repeatedly ill in hospital until coming to Victoria where he served in HMVS Nelson. Bates was a member of the China Contingent and seven years later took charge of the Volunteer Naval Cadet Corps. He retired in 1914, but was recalled to take charge of the Port War signal station, and was later chief executive at Naval Staff Office. "Daddy" Bates acted as District Naval Officer until his retirement in 1919. His eldest son was Senior District Officer at Brisbane for many years.

excerpt from Deeds not Words, Wilson P. Evans,
The Hawthorn Press, Melbourne 1971



The Argus, 16 January 1935




Lieut.-Commander J. A. Bates, a retired officer of the Royal Australian Navy, had had a long association with the sea, first as a member of the mercantile marine and later as a naval man. He was born in Buckinghamshire, England, in, 1852, and at the age of 14 he became a ship's apprentice. He was serving  aboard the brig Emily, which was trading between Africa and Australia, when he contracted malaria fever at Madagascar, and in 1871 he was a patient in the Melbourne Hospital with that complaint. After his recovery he obtained a position in the Melbourne Harbor Trust, and was later manager of the coal supply department. However he joined the Victorian Navy in 1876, and served aboard the three-decker frigate Nelson. He was a warrant-officer with the Victorian naval contingent in 1900, and seven years later was placed in charge of the First Volunteer Australian Naval Cadet Force. Early in the year 1914 he retired with the rank of lieutenant; but the outbreak of the war saw him back again on duty, and he was placed in charge of port war signal stations. Later he became chief executive officer at the Naval Staff Office, and was promoted to the rank of lieut.- commander. Towards the end of the war he acted as District Naval Officer for Victoria, and finally retired in 1919. The eldest son, Ernest John, was S.D.N.O. at Brisbane until his retirement recently. Another, John Arthur, is proprietor of the Advance Engineering Co., whilst the other, Harold, is on the staff of the Vacuum Oil Co. The funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon from his residence, 53 Verdon street, and was largely attended. The casket was draped with the Union Jack, placed on a gun- carriage and drawn from his residence to the cemetery by members of the Australian Naval Reserve. The Lieu- tenant-Commander's cocked hat and the swords were carried on the top of the casket. The flag, which was used as a pall, was supported by members of the Volunteer Naval Cadet Corps—E. Mackley, B. Blatchford, W. Osborne, H. E. Jones, T. Tomkin, S. Reed, A. Nelson, E. Devison, F. Brophy, E. Dunkerley, G. Bunton and C. Walley. Among the many floral tributes were magnificent wreaths from R.A.N.R. Officers, Williamstown; 1900- 1911 Naval Cadet Association, Em- ployees Advance Engineering Co., H. Rowdon & Son, and Employees of the Vacuum Oil Co.   The funeral cortege was preceded by the Naval Reserve Band, and many Naval and Reserve officers and men were in attendance and marched in the cortege. Bugler W. E. Whitford sounded the "Last Post." The Rev. Dr. A. Law, a former vicar of Holy Trinity, and formerly Naval Chaplain, conducted impressive services at the house and grave, and spoke eulogistically of the services rendered to the old Victorian Navy and, later, to the Australian Navy by the late Commander Bates. Nelson Bros. had charge of the funeral arrangements.

Williamstown Chronicle, 19 January 1935



Field Glasses belonging to Gunner Bates which accompanied him to China.
Navy Heritage Centre, Garden Island, NSW.


Profile in The Australian Illustrated Enclclopaedia of The Boxer Uprising 1899-1901, Justin Corfield, Slouch Hat Publications, McCrae Australia, 2001.


In an article subheaded "Naval Veterans of 89 and 80", in the Williamstown Chronicle on 26 October 1912 this man was listed as receiving a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal for 15 years service. To qualify he would have to have served at least four years in the Victorian Naval Forces.

* 1853 is given as the commencement date for the Victorian Navy as this is the year that Commander Lockyer (RN) went to Britain to superintend the building of HMCS Victoria.
Although the Victorian Navy ended in 1901 the career of Cerbeus etc continued. In 1910 the new ships started arriving & manning levels increased.

Information & photographs of men who served in the Victorian Naval Forces is eagerly sought. Please contact the webmaster.