He was born may 14, 1916 in Bolder Colorado and moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado where he started working for the Alexandria Film Company in high school.
He had seven years experience when Jim entered the U.S. Army as a Cinema photographer and became a Sergeant Technician and a member of General Eisenhower’s Newsreel Team.
General Gavin asked him to volunteer as a Combat Photographer for the invasion and then sent him to jump school. Bates was in the second plane on D-Day 1944 and the second man out with a full load of photographic equipment.
He landed in a canal and almost drowned. All his equipment was ruined so he turned into a combat soldier. Jim blew up a command car with a grenade, and later stumbled in a large pillbox where almost a hundred Germans soldiers surrendered and piled up their weapons.
In January 1945, he hitched a ride as a bow gunner on a Third Armored Division Sherman tank. outside of Langlier. He used the machine gun to hit a German with a bazooka. He baled out of the tank when it got stopped and got hit with shrapnel and spent several days in the hospital but came back at the end of the Ardennes and joined up with the 82nd. Airborne Division.
Jim’s footage of the Panther tank, engaging US Shermans and getting destroyed by a T26 “Pershing” tank in Cologne, is famous.