Charles Betts

Census Address: 2 Duncomb's Yard, Water Street
Place of Birth: Stamford St Martin's
Date of Birth: 1898
Enlistment Address: -
Regiment: Royal Air Force
Service Numbers: Cadet 175731
Place of Death: -
Date Died: -
Duncombs Yard, Water Street

Two families called Betts lived in Duncombs Yard. Charles and Harry were brothers, both born and brought up in St Martin’s parish.

Charles (a jobbing gardener) lived at number 2 with his wife Annie and their seven children: Lilian, Ernest, Thomas, Edward, Charles, Ellen and Mabel. Harry (a stonemason on the Burghley estate) lived at number 5 with his wife Mary Ann and their ten children. By the census of 1911 some of the older children had left home and Harry’s sons were no longer teenagers. Just two of Charles’ sons were in their teens:

Edward Betts

Edward, born 1895 in Stamford, was the third son of Charles and Annie of 2 Duncombs Yard. Whilst at St Martin’s school he showed artistic talent, winning a prize in 1906 but in 1911 he was an unemployed errand boy living at home. He did not enlist in WW I and sadly, in December 1919 he died at home in Stamford at the early age of 22. Perhaps it was a tragic accident, a terminal illness or possibly an attack of the influenza epidemic just beginning to sweep the country.

Charles Betts

Charles, born 1898 in Stamford, was the fourth son of Charles and Annie of 2 Duncombs Yard. He became a GPO messenger boy when he left St Martin’s school and lived at home.
On 6 April 918 he enlisted as Cadet 175731 in the newly-formed RAF at Wittering Aerodrome. He remained ‘under flying instruction’ but the war was almost over and he never saw active service. Demobbed in February 1919 he returned home to resume work with the GPO.

The Two Bett’s Families in WW I

On the outbreak of WW I all Harry Betts’ sons enlisted for the services. Wilfred, then 28, joined the Lincolnshire Regiment. Bertie, 25, who worked as a printer and lived in Willesden, London with his wife and child, joined the Northamptonshire Regiment as Private 17118. Frank, 23, still single and living with his parents became Private 2301 also with the Northants. Walter had joined the Royal Navy on 1 January 1913 at the age of 19 and was already serving on board ship as SS4185.

The eldest, Harry, aged 30, was also in the Navy but no record has been found.
In September 1916 a devastating caption in the ‘Stamford Mercury’ read FIVE SONS SERVING; ONE MISSING ANOTHER WOUNDED. Bertie was wounded for the second time and Frank was missing. Both were later presumed ‘killed in action’. At the same time Wilfred was wounded so badly he was invalided out as unfit. After the war he lived in London.
Of Charles Betts’ sons only Thomas (21) who worked in a foundry as a blacksmith’s striker was active in the war. He was mobilized on 31 May 1915 with the 4th Lincolnshires as Private 4378. He served five months before being discharged on 15 October 1915 without ever leaving England.

In 1919 a national day of celebration was announced to celebrate the Peace. The Mayor of Stamford, W. E. Martin, led a committee organising a dinner for demobilised and discharged servicemen. Application forms were available and Ernest, Charles’ eldest son, then in his late 20s, a clerk in an office in Stamford, applied on behalf of: Walter, demobbed from the Navy on 10 April 1919 after serving on the North Sea patrols for five years; Thomas, who had served for such a short time; Charles who after a few months training at Wittering Aerodrome had returned to his job as a telegraph boy with the GPO.

800 servicemen, who had survived the war, sat down to a lavish meal in Blackstone’s canteen but only three of them were from the Betts’ family.
The deaths of Privates F.C.Betts and B.J.Betts are recorded on the War Memorial of St Martin’s church.