|Date of Birth||April 4, 1896|
|Place of Birth||Liverpool|
|Next of Kin||Mother, Lavinia Macauley|
|Trade / Calling||Flour Packer|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Address at Enlistment||400 4th Street N, Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||April 6, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||August 14, 1918|
|Age at Death||22|
|Buried At||no known grave/Vimy Memorial|
Good friends: sitting Harry Betton, and Albert Bull
Born on 4 April 1896 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, Henry (Harry) Betton was the first born child of John Richard and Lavinia (née Scarisbrick) Betton. 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 had 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, 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 for 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 in Kenora, Harry’s father John 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.
Harry enlisted on 3 April 1916 in Winnipeg, Manitoba although his family was living at 400 4th Street North in Kenora. Blue-eyed with fair hair, he was only 20 years old. His occupation was given as flour packer although in the past he had worked for the CPR and the Miner and News as a boy. From Kenora, Harry and Albert Bull, the pair also known as the Kenora Kids, headed to Camp Hughes for training.
Originally with the 203rd Battalion, Harry left Halifax aboard the Grampian on 26 October 1916. Once overseas, he was transferred to the 18th Reserve Battalion at Seaford the following January of 1917, and then transferred to the 44th Battalion, taken on strength in the field in late April. In May Harry spent some time with the 4th Entrenching Battalion, returning to the 44th later that month. Just a short time later, in June, he sustained a shrapnel wound to the head and arm and was admitted to the No 9 British Red Cross Hospital in Calais and invalided to England 5 days later. He spent time recovering in the Reading War Hospital and then was transferred to the Military Convalescent Hospital in Woodcote Park in Epsom. Reporting from the 1st Canadian Convalescent Depot the following early April of 1918, he was taken on strength with the Manitoba Regimental Depot and then transferred back to the 44th Battalion later that month, taken on strength in the field in early May.
Private Henry (Harry) Betton was reported as killed in action on 14 August 1918. From the War Diary for the 44th Battalion: 13 August 1918 – ‘Battalion relieved at 4 A.M. by 19th and 49th Battns., and proceeded by route march to Rosieres, arriving at 6 A.M. Rested during day and proceeded at 6 P.M. to Le Quesnel where Battalion was billetted in bivouacs. Casualties – 12 O.R.s [other ranks] wounded.’ 14 August 1918 – ‘Day spent cleaning up and reorganizing. Casualties – 1 O.R. killed, 1 O.R. wounded.’
From the CEF burial register for Henry: ‘Killed in Action’ While resting with his Company in the trenches outside the sugar refinery, near Rosieres, this soldier was hit on the forehead and instantly killed by a fragment from an enemy shell, which exploded on the parados.
As Harry’s body was never recovered, his name is inscribed on the ramparts of the Vimy Memorial in Pas de Calais with the names of over 11,000 Canadian soldiers who were posted as ‘missing, presumed dead’ in France.
Harry’s brother John Richard Betton served during the war and he died of his wounds sustained in battle on 11 October 1918. His good friend Albert Bull who had enlisted 3 days before Harry in Winnipeg, was reported killed in action on 11 May 1917. He is also commemorated on the Vimy Memorial.
Harry’s mother Lavinia stayed in Kenora and died on 14 January 1922. His sister Ada married John Arthur Bull (brother of Albert Bull, John also serving during the latter part of the war) in 1921 in Kenora, sister Florence married Colin Hedley Affleck in 1924 in Kenora, brother Albert married Sylvia Fuller whose father and brother also served, her brother Charles being killed in action 26 October 1917, and brother Fred married Muriel Cull.
Private Henry (Harry) 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 family grave marker in Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.
By Fred Betton and Judy Stockham
photos: Fred Betton and Carol Fischer