Betty was born on the 3rd September 1896 in Clifton in the Bootham area of York. She came from a well off middle class background and was educated at home until she was 14 whereby she was despatched to boarding school at St Georges Wood in Haslemere Surrey. From school she went to Brussels to study music. In 1913 the family moved to Harrogate where Betty’s father, Arthur, established himself as a leading estate agent. Betty had a younger brother born in 1901, James Arthur Radford, in which in her letters referred to him as JARS.
Both Betty’s parents were active supporters of the YMCA. Her mother Catherine served throughout the war as chair of the YMCA’s Women’s Auxiliary. Betty appears to have acquired early in her life a high sense of civic duty. Betty and her parents were part of the group that travelled to London to help with the Belgium Relief Fund after the outbreak of WW1. They would be involved in the transferring of refugee families to the Harrogate area from their encampment at Alexandra Palace.
In January 1916 one of Betty’s aunts went to France to manage a YMCA canteen and Betty was determined to join her. She set off on February 11th, aged 19, to join her in the St Denis Hut outside Paris. She completed her time at St Denis, took some home leave and returned to France to become a driver at Etaples in April 1917. Betty was extremely young at the time to be a driver, and her main duties involved transporting people to YMCA events such as lectures and convert parties, delivering stores, and taking relatives to visit their wounded family in hospitals and to attend funerals. Driving conditions at the time were exhausting, terrible roads, open topped vehicles in all weathers, and could be close to the front line.
The German spring offensive on 1918 had seen Etaples come under constant threat from air raids. During one such raid on the 30th May Betty was killed. She had been driving back from a train station with other workers and even though they had taken shelter under a bank a bomb would take her life. Betty was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre and is buried at the military cemetery in Etaples. She was just 21 years old.
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Submitted by Pat Burgess. The Graham family were local to Barnard Castle, they lived on The Bank, where father John had a chemist and grocery business. John Austin was born on 2 March 1872. After his time at school from 1886 until 1889, he took a Electrical Engineering apprenticeship. Later he started an electrical business with his brother – Graham Brothers Electrical Engineers in Middlesbrough. He was secretary of the Saltburn R.N.L.I. and a gifted operatic singer. Serving as a territorial captain, Austin Graham was with the 4th battalion when war broke out in August of 1914. He landed with the battalion at Boulogne on April 18th 1915 when the battalion was almost straight away thrown into the 2nd battle of Ypres. On April 24th Captain Graham and his men had their first taste of action in fierce fighting during the Battle of St Julien. On Whit Monday 1915 the battalion were in trenches astride the Menin Road at Hooge and Austin Graham was badly gassed and hospitalised with his injuries. In early 1918 the battalion were back in the Ypres sector and when the German Spring Offensive opened on March 21st they were in a position close to Hancourt. There followed nine days of fighting on the retreat under the enemy onslaught. A brief rest at Bethune followed this and then on April 8th the battalion was moved up to take part in the Battle of the Lys. By now CO of the 4th battalion Major Austin Graham was…
Deborah Hutchinson sent us this information about her Great Uncle, 459480 Driver James McAndrew, 450th Field Company, Royal Engineers. James was the oldest boy in a family of 9 – 3 girls and 6 boys much admired by his brothers and sisters, especially by his youngest sister Kitty – her grandmother. Born 1898 in Chester-le-Street, James moved with his family to 11 Mary Agnes Street, Coxlodge, Newcastle upon Tyne in 1901. When he left school he worked as a coal miner in Regent’s Pit, Gosforth along with most of the community. In 1914 he enlisted and joined the Royal Engineers as a driver. He was part of the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force. He was one of the many non-battle casualties in the area due to the extreme weather and unhygienic conditions. He died of yellow fever on 10th October 1918 at the age of 22 – just a month and a day before the Armistice – it was also his mother’s birthday. He is buried in Amara War Cemetery in Baghdad, Iraq. His name appears on the War memorial in St Charles RC Church, Gosforth. His parents, Thomas and Liza, had been active fund raisers to build this church when they arrived in the area in 1901.
Molly Copland visited the Green Howards Museum to tell us about her uncle Arthur Edward Arnett. Arthur Arnett was born in Wakefield on 3rd July 1896 and was educated at Sanda Elementary School and Leeds Central High School before working as a Junior Clerk at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. He enlisted with the 2nd Battalion, York and Lancashire Regiment on 17th February 1916, serving with the British Expeditionary Force from 28th June. Following a transfer to the 5th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment Arthur was wounded at the Somme around 11th September 1916. He spent five weeks in hospital before being sent back to England, eventually returning to France with the 6th Yorks and Lancs on 18th March 1917. After transferring to the 10th Battalion following losses at the Battle of Loos, Arthur was killed in action at Gheluvelt on 28th September 1917 and is buried at Hooge Crater Cemetery in Belgium.