On 11 May 1944 2,000 Allied guns opened fire together to begin 'Operation Diadem', the great attack to advance towards Rome. The plan included the British Eighth Army taking Casino, crossing the River Rapido, and breaking through the 'Gustav Line', the German line of defences which stretched across Italy. After fierce battles at Casino, which completely destroyed the town and the Monte Casino Abbey, the Germans withdrew on 18 May. The German defence line, had, however, been strengthened by more artillery, and weeks of heavy fighting in mountainous ensued. Gunner James Yates lost his life at this time.
John was the son of John and Mary Yates. He was aged 25. He attended St.Mary's R.C. Church and School, where he was a member of the football team. Before James joined the Army in 1939, he worked at Dale Mill, Waterfoot. He served with his regiment at El Alamein, Egypt and Iraq.
James is buried in Casino War Cemetery, Italy. He was originally buried at Pizzile, in a small cemetery, but his body was later removed, with others, to Casino. There are 4,266 Commonwealth war graves in the cemetery, 284 of which are of men who could not be identified. James lies in Plot 18, Row D, Grave 8.