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 Marcia Howard, a resident of Richmond. Albert William George Clifford was my maternal Grandfather born at Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire in 1886. Prior to his medical discharge in 1916, he was serving in Malta with No.1 Coy, of the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner. He was subsequently presented with the Silver War Badge which in September 1916, King George V had authorised to honour all military personnel who had served at home or overseas since 4 August 1914, and who had been discharged because of wounds or illness. Following his return home to his wife and 2 small children in Gloucestershire, he became Chauffeur to the local doctor, where he also contributed to the recruitment drive popularly known as ‘Your Country Needs You’.
Joseph (third from left) was born around 1884 in Ainderby Steeple near Northallerton in North Yorkshire. He was the eldest of five children to Thomas and Amelia. He would eventually end up living at East Witton where he worked on the Jervaulx estate. He married Agnes Kendray and they would have three children. Joseph was a fine athlete as witnessed on Coronation Day June 22nd 1911. In the fell race to the top of Witton Fell and back Joseph came first. His exploits were published in the parish magazine. Joseph enlisted at Middleham joining the 7th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. The Battalion embarked for France on the 13th July 1915. It was during operations in February 1917 in an area of the Somme that heavy German artillery would take a heavy toll. A shell destroyed a cellar being used to house stretcher cases killing most of the men. One of those reported missing was Private Joseph Allen. His body was never found. Joseph’s name is commemorating on the Thiepval Memorial. A service was held at East Witton Church on the 3rd March. Tragically, one month after the service, Joseph’s widow Agnes died, aged 33, leaving three young orphans.
Not much is known about the service of Sergeant William Bowman of the Yorkshire Regiment. However, Stuart Hodgson a volunteer at the Green Howards Museum noticed something slightly unusual when he came across a photograph of William. The second button on his tunic is covered in black material. There is a good deal of evidence which suggests that some soldiers who had lost relatives during the war started wearing a black button on their tunic, or sometimes a button wrapped in black crepe. This was probably an un-official practice and a blind eye was turned. However, evidence in an Eastern Command Order (1593) of August 1918 states: “Mourning wearing of, by Non-Commissioned Officers and men. The practice by Non-Commissioned Officers and men of covering the second button of the service dress jacket with black material as a symbol of mourning is irregular and will cease forthwith. (War Office Letter No. 54/ Gen No./3025 (QMG 7) dated 19th July 1918)” We do not know who was being mourned, but it appears that William Bowman survived the Great War.