Born on June 14, 1921 in Camberwell, London. At the start of the war, Bates worked in a carpentry workshop. In 1940 he enlisted in the British Army and was assigned to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment after returning from its former base in Delhi, British India.
On August 6, 1944, Sydney Bates, who had risen to the rank of corporal by that time, commanded a squad in the area of Sourdeval, Manche, France. Finding that the enemy had penetrated deep into the area occupied by his squad, Bates grabbed a light machine gun and rushed to the attack through a hail of bullets. Despite two wounds, he did not lose his presence of mind and continued the battle until the enemy began to retreat. Then he received a third wound, which turned out to be fatal. However, he continued to fight until his strength left him. By this time, the enemy had already been driven back, the battle formations had been restored, and the threat to the platoon had been eliminated. Sydney Bates died in hospital two days later.