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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Bulfin was born in Woodtown Park, Rathfarnham, Co Dublin in 1862. Although he attended Trinity College, Dublin, he did not take a degree, choosing a military career instead.He was commissioned into the Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment) in 1884. After 30 years of service he became Colonel of the Regiment in 1914. As Colonel, Bulfin wanted the Regiment to stand out in the Army Lists with a more unique name. He pushed for the traditional nickname of ‘The Green Howards’ to be made official to differentiate between all the other ‘Yorkshire’ Regiments. He was finally successful in 1921, and the name lasted for the next 85 years.
Canon John Purvis OBE (1890-1968) Canon John Purvis was an extremely talented artist and photographer. He is best remembered however for his historical and literary achievements. His translation of the original York Mystery Plays into modern English were central to their revival during the Festival of Britain in 1951. This work, along with his initiation of the Borthwick Institute for Archives in York, lead to his OBE in 1958. Purvis was born in Bridlington 1890. After studying at Cambridge University he worked at Cranleigh School as a history teacher, a role to which he would return after the First World War. He enlisted with the Yorkshire Regiment, serving with the 5th Battalion from early 1916. Purvis was wounded during the Battle of the Somme on the first occasion he went ‘over the top’. On that day, 15th September 1916, he had recorded history’s first tank attack in pen and ink in the early light of dawn. Two well known war poems, ‘High Wood’ and ‘Chance Memory’, originally published under the pseudonym Philip Johns(t)one are now known to have been written by Purvis.
Fred, the fourth child of five to Ned and Ann Shaw, was born around 1884 at Slaithwaite near Huddersfield. His father Ned was a railway signal man and part time photographer. Two of Fred’s brothers would emigrate to Canada before the Great War began. Fred trained as a journeyman tailor and travelled to seek employment. Whilst in the Hawes district he met and married a girl from Hawes, Mary Elizabeth Blades, in November 1909. Fred enlisted in Hawes in June 1916, joining the 9th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Fred went to France in September 1916. Private Fred Shaw was killed on the first day of The Battle of Messines on the 7th June 1917 aged 33. Fred’s body was never found and his name is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres. Sadly, just four and a half months after his father died, their son Jimmy died aged 5.