Betton, John Richard: Service no. 198966


Digitized Service Record

Source: Duty Nobly Done Honour Roll


Pte John Richard Betton

Service # 198966

At the young age of 17, Jack Betton enlisted for service on February 15, 1916 in Kenora, Ontario. Jack  was following in his elder brother Harry’s footsteps. 

Once his enlistment was complete,  Pte. Betton was sent to Valcartier, P.Q., for training.  On June 28, 1916, he sailed with his battalion for England.

Pte. Bretton then spent time training in England, at the East Sandling Training Camp.  While there, he was transferred to the 17th, 30th, 32nd and 161st Battalions.  This was a common practice, as the soldiers were to be replacements for casualties in front line units. 

On Feb 28, 1918, he was dispatched to France for service with the 18th Battalion. By March 2, he was transferred to the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp.  On April 6, 1918, Pte. Betton joined the 18th in the field.

However, a month later he was confined to the hospital with scabies.  He was able to rejoin the 18th on June 29, 1918. 

Very close to the end of the war, on October 11, 1918, Pte. Betton died of multiple shrapnel wounds at the No 9 Canadian Field Ambulance.  Tragically, his elder brother Pte. Harry Betton was also killed in August of the same year.  Thus, the Betton family lost two of their sons within a two-month period.

Pte John Richard Betton is buried at the Queant Communal Cemetery, France.  This quiet village is southeast of Arras.

By Jill Campbell, 18th Battalion Facebook Group.

Private J R Betton Dies of Wounds, Kenora Miner and News, 23 Oct 1918. Source: KGWP


Second Son From One Kenora Family to Give his Life Within Two Months

Mrs. Fred McAuley, Third Street North, was officially notified on Sunday that her son, Pte. John Richard Betton had died of wounds on October 11th in the 9th Field Ambulance.

Pte. Jack Betton enlisted and went overseas about two years ago with a western battalion. He was about 21 years of age and before enlisting employed here with the C.P.R. and was well known to a large number as a bright and energetic young man.

His elder brother, Pte. Harry Betton was killed in action on August 14th last, and thus within two months two members of the same family have made the supreme sacrifice to the cause of freedom. To the grief stricken mother of these two gallant sons, and to the sisters and brothers there can only be one consolation that they have given their lives that other might live and that freedom may not vanish from the earth.

Source: Kenora Miner and News, 23 Oct 1918.


Although his attestation papers say that he was born 03 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. 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 Betton 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, John lost his life in an accident in the Canadian Pacific Railway yards on 31 July 1908. In February of 1912, 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.”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 for service with the 18th Battalion, taken on strength in the field in early April. Afflicted with scabies, he 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 buried 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 Great War, also making the ultimate sacrifice as he was reported as Killed in Action two months earlier on 14 August 1918. John’s mother Lavinia stayed in Kenora and died 14 January 1922. His sister Ada married John Arthur Bull (who served during the latter part of the war) in 1921 in Kenora, sister Florence married Colin Hedley Affleck in 1924 also 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 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, on the CPR Roll of Honour, and on the Betton-Macauley family gravemarker in the Lake of the Woods Cemetery in Kenora.

By Kenora Great War Project

Kenora Unit 94th Left Thursday, part 1, Kenora Miner and News, 27 May 1916. Source: KGWP
Kenora Unit 94th Left Thursday, part 2, Kenora Miner and News, 27 May 1916. Source: KGWP
Betton-Macauley gravemarker, Lake of the Woods Cemetery. Source: KGWP
Private JR Betton gravemarker, Queant Communal Cemetery, British Extension. Source: KGWP
Kenora Cenotaph. Source: KGWP
Kenora Cenotaph WW1: “Our Heroic Dead Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice” Source: KGWP
“Died of wounds (shrapnel wounds multiple) at No. 9 Canadian Field Ambulance.

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