U’s fan took part in D-Day beach landings

George Bateman

George Bateman

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A STALWART Oxford United supporter of more than six decades and D-Day veteran has died, aged 96.

George Bateman was known amongst the city’s football fans as a long-time match steward, often wearing a distinctive trilby hat and white coat.

George Bateman was born in Lime Walk, Headington on October 25, 1917, to parents Albert and Bertha. His father was a bricklayer, his mother a cook and washerwoman.

The family lived on Bateman Street, originally East Street, which was reportedly renamed in 1959 to avoid confusion with East Street in Osney and to reflect the many decades they had lived there.

He attended school in the area with his two younger sisters, Elsie and Beatrice, and left aged 14 to become a labourer.

He was later to help build the permanent facilities at Manor Ground, later to become the first home of Oxford United when Headington United turned professional in 1959.

In 1939 he was conscripted into the Army and joined the Royal Pioneer Corps, trained in Northern Ireland and later landed on the beaches of Normandy during D-Day on June 6, 1944, setting up vital supply lines, clearing mine fields, laying vehicle tracks and building bridges.

He also witnessed the horrific aftermath of the Nazi concentration camp Belsen.

Campaigns saw him provide logistics support across France and Germany.

After the war he supportied the Royal British Legion and Poppy Appeal.

He was demobbed in 1945, returning to Oxford to work in the paint shop at the Cowley Morris plant. He was to work there until his retirement in 1982.

But it was his football club that was his passion, and he was a regular face at Oxford United’s match days at the Manor Ground from 1959 to when they moved to the Kassam Stadium in 2001, volunteering as a steward.

He could most often been seen waving in visitors and vehicles at the ground’s London Road entrance.

The last game he attended, as a spectator was for his 90th birthday. The match, on October 20, 2007, saw Oxford United draw 0-0 with Woking.

In retirement he took part in raising money for the Royal British Legion for some three decades, right up until his final years.

George Bateman died on April 24. His two sisters, Elsie and Beatrice, predeceased him, but he is survived by his three nephews Keith, Nigel and Harry, his niece Sheila, 12 great-nephews and nieces and nine great-great-nephews and nieces. His sisters predeceased him. He did not marry.

His funeral is at Headington Cemetery, Dunstan Road, on Monday at 1pm. Family and friends are welcome to attend.

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