|Date of Birth||April 3, 1899|
|Place of Birth||Liverpool|
|Next of Kin||Lavinia Betton, mother|
|Trade / Calling||Labourer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||February 15, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||16|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||October 11, 1918|
|Age at Death||19|
|Buried At||Queant Communal Cemetery British Extension, Pas de Calais, France|
Although his attestation papers say that he was born on 3 April 1898 in Liverpool, England, John Richard Betton’s birth registration was for 1899. He was the third born child of John Richard and Lavinia (Scarisbrick) Betton. His father John was the son of Philip, occupation engine fitter, and Johanna (Biggins) Betton and Lavinia was the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Stoley) Scarisbrick. Her father’s occupation was listed as prison warden (on her second marriage certificate). John and Lavinia married during the third quarter of 1895, with the marriage registered in West Derby, Lancashire.
By the 1901 England census the family was living at 27 Sessions Road, Kirkdale, Liverpool, occupation of John Sr, age 26, given as engine driver and stationary worker. Other members of the household were Lavinia, age 25, Harry, age 4, Ada, age 3, John, age 2, Florence, age 9 months, and John’s brother Albert, age 15.
The family was next found on a passenger list of the Empress of Ireland that left Liverpool in April of 1908, destination given as Kenora, Ontario. Two more children had been added to the family, Albert and Frank (Fred). Travelling with the family was Frank (Fred) Macauley.
Only months later John’s father lost his life in an accident in the Canadian Pacific Railway yards on 31 July 1908. In February of 1912 his mother Lavinia married Frederick Macauley in Kenora. The family took up residence at 506 5th Street North.
John Richard Betton enlisted in Kenora on 16 February 1916. Brown-eyed with black hair, he was only 17. With the 94th Battalion, John left Kenora by train on 25 May 1916, destination Port Arthur, Ontario.
‘On May 25, 1916, the men of ‘C’ an ‘D’ Companies from Kenora and Fort Frances were moved to the Lakehead and on June 9, 1916, the Battalion left for Valcartier, Quebec for ‘Summer Camp’ as it was called. For two hundred and five of these men it was the last time they were to see their families and friends. The 94th trained at Valcartier for a period until June 13th when they sailed from Halifax for England on the RMS Olympic. Although the 94th remained a battalion on paper until July 27th, 1918, with an office at East Sandling, if actually ceased to exist on July 13th, 1916 when it was broken up and the men were transferred to the 17th and 32nd Reserve Battalions to be used as replacements for casualties in front line units.’ (from the now defunct 94th Battalion website)
Once overseas John was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion, to the 30th Reserve Battalion in September, to the 32nd Reserve Battalion in December, and then to the 161st Battalion in February of 1917. In February of 1918 he proceeded overseas to France for service with the 18th Battalion, taken on strength in the field in early April. Afflicted with scabies, John spent most of the month of June at the 2/2 London Field Ambulance.
Just a month before the end of the war, Private John Richard Betton died of his wounds on 11 October 1918. From the CEF burial register for John: ‘Died of wounds (shrapnel wounds multiple) at No. 9 Canadian Field Ambulance.’ From the War Diary for the 18th Battalion, 11 October 1918: During the day’s operations which lasted from 9 a.m. until they were relieved at 11 p.m. – there were 2 officers and 54 other ranks wounded, 11 O.R.s killed in action, 18 O.R.s wounded-gassed.
Private John Richard Betton is interred in the Queant Communal Cemetery, British Extension, 7.5 miles north east of Bapaume, Pas De Calais, France.
John’s brother Henry (Harry) Betton served during the war and had been reported as killed in action two months earlier on 14 August 1918. He is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial.
John’s mother Lavinia stayed in Kenora and died on 14 January 1922. His sister Ada married John Arthur Bull (who served during the latter part of the war) in 1921, sister Florence married Colin Hedley Affleck in 1924, brother Albert married Sylvia Fuller whose father and brother also served, her brother Charles being reported as killed in action 26 October 1917, and brother Fred married Muriel Cull.
Private John Richard Betton is commemorated on page 368 of the First World War Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, on the Kenora Cenotaph, on the Kenora Legion War Memorial, and on the Betton-Macauley family gravemarker in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.
by Fred Betton and Judy Stockham
grave marker photo: Fred Betton