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Norman Malcolm Bates was born in Wolverhampton in 1889, the son of Arthur and Marianne Agnes Bates. In 1901, they were living at 32 Merridale Road, together with Norman’s brothers Arthur D. and Joseph W. H., and his sisters Agnes E. and Gwendoline M. By 1911 they had moved to 10 “Glassaber” Newhampton Road, and Norman was joined by his parents, brother Joseph William Harold, sister Gwendoline Marianne and a servant, Harriet Wilcox. By this date, Norman was a Solicitors articled clerk with G. R. Thorne, Son & Co.

Norman enlisted with the 5th South Staffordshire Regiment and became a Second Lieutenant. The Wolverhampton Chronicle of 20 October 1915 reported that he had been wounded in the leg. However, he does not appear to have died and did survive the war. He married Matilda Craddock in 1917, but she died at the age of 28 in 1918. Norman remarried an Iris M. G. Jackson in 1921. With his second wife, he went on to have three children – Diana, John and Roderic – between 1924 and 1933. Norman died in 1950 at the age of 60.