The identity of Ronald G. Bateman is a question that’s occupying my mind, because he is the last ‘unidentified’ man on the War Memorial at the Church of St Peter in Petersham, one of three War Memorials I am currently researching. I blog about those commemorated on this memorial on Petersham Remembers. Although all those named have been researched, I’ve uploaded only a few posts. Some of the research is more stub than post, but I have certainly enough to write about for all of them. What’s held me back recently is that I’ve been taking a Military Archives module, part of an M.Litt programme in Family and Local History, offered by the University of Dundee.
But now that’s over, and I have no excuse for further dithering, I’m finding it hard to choose the candidate for my next post, from the remaining men (and one woman) on this War Memorial. I may have to put the names in a hat, because they’re all potential favourites.
And then there’s Ronald, for whom almost my only clue is the R.M.M that follows his name. I can’t find an R.M.M. on any lists of military abbreviations, but my gut feeling has been that it might represent something along the lines of Royal(?) Mercantile Marine.
For all the military historians whom I pestered at Who do you think you are? Live 2013, here is proof of the “R.M.M.” I claimed for Ronald.
Like many other War Memorial researchers, I am a fan of The Long, Long Trail, its associated Great War Forum, the Western Front Association, and of Paul Reed’s Battlefields of World War 2. Thank you to all of them, and to military historian, Peter Hart, who tried to pin down this abbreviation for me.
To start with, I had a bit of an ‘own’ goal: on my impulsive, initial ‘just-out-of interest’ jotting down of the names, I missed the thin line carved above Ronald Bateman’s name and started looking out for him in the ‘wrong’ war!
Let’s look at the evidence and some of my more recent attempts to identify him as a casualty of WW2. I should mention that I haven’t found the WW2 list to be without error. A ‘Florence’ Naylor on the memorial is, I believe ‘Ivy May’. Could the G conceivably be a C? And the R.M.M. represent something else?
A Ronald C Bateman, who earned a Long Service Medal in 1964, certainly can’t be remotely considered as this Ronald Bateman. Unless it’s another slip.
Searching for R. Batemans on the CWGC database, specifying WW2 deaths but not a particular service, I found 4 results, none of which was a Ronald. A search for ‘Bateman’ in the Merchant Seaman’s medals on BT 395 at the National Archives, gave 19 results. None was a Ronald, and none was an R.G. Bateman. There was a Richard Bateman (BT 395/1/1916), and also a Lawrence R. Bateman, whom I think we can discount.
So far I’ve found three Bateman deaths on vessels, none of them identified as a Ronald: on the Nerissa, in August 1942, on the Scotia O.N.144978, in July 1940-the Scotia was bombed and sunk in June 1940- and on the Devonshire in May 1943. (The death of an Elizabeth Anne Bateman came up in a search of BT 334.)
This afternoon I’ll be researching Petersham’s residents in the 1930s and 1940s. I have a list of the WW2 names, in order of death, and will be looking in the local newspaper for reports in the weeks and, if necessary, the months following each death. A report on Ronald Bateman might be a little difficult to find in a resource that’s not been indexed. I hope for some serendipity surfacing here.