On Tuesday, 1st May 2007 Nick Bateson was riding his bicycle on the Contingency Operating Base at Basra Air Station when he was involved in an accident with a coach. He was taken to the field hospital by ambulance but sadly died of his injuries.
Nick Bateson was a Major in the Royal Corps of Signals. Aged 49, he was born in Chislehurst, Kent. For the previous three months, he had been serving within the headquarters of Multi-National Division (South East), where his role was to support communications between the UK and British forces in Iraq. He was on detachment from the Defence Information Infrastructure Integrated Project Team, based in Corsham, Wiltshire.
A keen sportsman, Major Bateson had represented the Army in the triathlon and orienteering and competed in swimming, cross country, and cycling at the highest levels of service competition. He leaves behind his wife Angela.
Lieutenant Colonel David Craft, his Commanding Officer, said:
"Major Nick Bateson was one of life's real characters. He was known throughout the Headquarters not only as a professional soldier and staff officer but also as an individual. His personality was bigger than simply the job he was doing. He was always the person with a smile on his face and a quick retort; the sort of person you need around to lift the team when things don't go well. Nick had a zest and energy second to none.
"He was known not only for his professionalism and commitment to ensuring that he delivered communications support to the very best of his ability, but also for his total dedication to, and love of, sport. He was an athlete of some renown and never settled for second place, he was always there to cajole and enthuse people to achieve their best. One of the most competitive men I knew, he was also one of the nicest.
"Nick will be greatly missed. He was a highly regarded member of the Branch."
Captain Alex Yates, fellow HQ Multi-National Division branch member and friend of Major Bateson, said:
"Nick was the 'cheerful chappy' and always had time for everybody and anybody. You could not help but respect Nick, not least for his morals and the true determination which he showed in abundance on many occasions whilst serving the Army, and in sport.
"A professional and true athlete, he always had bundles of energy in whatever he did and never failed to inspire those around him. He was a genuine ambassador for the Corps and will be solely missed by us all. 'Forest' - Nick's nickname not just for his running but also for his ability to blend into the woodland with his ill fitting and well creased uniform - you will not be forgotten."
"One of the most competitive men I knew, he was also one of the nicest."
Major Tarquin Shipley, who shared a room with Major Bateson, said:
"Knowing Nick was an absolute privilege. He had helped recruit me, was my course officer as a young officer and lately we had studied for a Master's Degree at Blandford together and shared a room in Iraq. He was incredibly helpful and would not think twice about putting himself out for you.
"With his slightly absent-minded approach to life, he would take on everything with determination and energy but never too much unnecessary detail. He would always have a good word to say about everyone; unless they were getting in the way of his training. He was fiercely competitive and extremely proud of his sporting achievements but would always provide encouragement and support to anyone who asked.
"He was a private person and was often happy with his own company. Despite being a Great Britain and Army sportsman, I will always remember him as the 'Blandford Beams' champion, and that was when the 'beams' were the 'beams'!"
Lieutenant Colonel Colin McGrory, Chief of Staff of Defence Information Infrastructure Integrated Project Team, said:
"If you mention Nick Bateson to anyone from the Royal Signals of Nick's vintage, they will immediately picture certain things about him. He always had a great big grin on his face, very bandy legs, an eccentric approach to uniform, and wherever he was his workspace would expand gradually as bikes, bits of bike, and running kit started to appear.
"Nick was a lovely guy who will be sorely missed. He was a real character in every way. A hugely fit, active man he was somewhat uncomfortable in a desk environment, but was always professional and whether he enjoyed it or not he got on and did a professional job. A real people person, his wicked sense of humour and willingness to make cups of coffee and toast for his workmates made him a great guy to work near. We were all looking forward to having him back from Iraq in only a few short weeks.
"Perhaps the thing that Nick will mostly be remembered for is his immense fitness. He represented the Army in the Triathlon and Orienteering and competed at the highest Service levels in cross country, cycling and swimming. Sport was his life.
"It's often said at times like this what a lovely guy so and so was. Nick really was a great guy, a soldier's officer and a real gentleman. We will all miss him greatly, and we extend our condolences to his wife Angela."