BETTS, Cecil Christopher

No.31295, Private, Cecil Christopher BETTS
Aged 33

2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment
Killed in Action on Monday, 9th April 1917

Cecil Christopher Betts was born in 1884 in Haverhill (Risbridge Q1-1884 4A:596), son of Benjamin and Kate BETTS (née WILLIS).

1891 census...Aged 7, he was at Maypole Terrace, Haverhill, with his father Benjamin BETTS [33] a clothier's warehouseman, born Kedington; his mother Kate [31] born Steeple Bumpstead; brother Benjamin Horace [8] and Garnet William; sisters Blanche Maud[3] and Edith Priscilla [1]. All the children were born in Haverhill.

1901 census...Aged 17, a clothing warehouseman, he was at the Pightle, Haverhill with his parents; brothers Horace B [clothing warhouseman) and Garnet W ( warehouse office boy); sisters Blanche M, Edith P and Winifred K. [9] born Haverhill.

In 1907 Q3 he married Mabel EMSON [19-3-1889].

1911 census...Aged 27, a clothing warehouse clerk, he was in Helions Bumpstead with his widowed mother in law Eliza EMSON [57] born Alton, Hampshire; his wife Mabel [21] born Long Ditton, Surrey and their children Leslie Cecil [3] and Reginald William [2] both born in Helions Bumpstead.

The pension card has his widow at Helions Bumpsead initially, with their three children, Leslie Cecil (18-11-1907), Reginald William (1-5-1909) and Phyllis Mabel (6-12-1914) but re-marrying to ? MOORE and living at Rifle Depot, Winchester.( this marriage registration has not been found)

CWGC has his widow as Mabel Moore, F Passage, 2 Married Quarters, Rifle Depot, Winchester There is some is recorded that Mabel re married to Corporal A E Moore, another Helions man, in 1918. The only likely marriage that has been is an Arthur Moore marrying a Mabel BELLS in Risbridge Q1-1919. This seems to be a transcription error somwhere.

Cecil enlisted in Warley.
The war diary :-
9/4/17...At 4.25 am the battalion (less officers and other ranks as laid down in S.S) moved by march route to the Assembly Area W of St.Nicholas. At zero hour the Battalion was about the St VAAST bridge and saw our barrage fall. Reached the Assembly Area at 8 am. Tools etc issued. Hot meal from the cooks was issued. At 10 o'clock move from the Assembly Area commenced, marched by platoons at 100 yards distance. On reaching our own front line the Battalion got into Artillery formation and continued the advance till the cemetery N of ST LAURENT BLAGNY was reached. Halted by Brigade order received from Staff Captain for one hour to allow the CAMERONSD to pass through to the attack of the BROWN line. Crossed the BLUE line at 1.10 pm
The attack of the 4th Division was now on line, 2nd LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS on the right and 1st SOMERSET LIGHT INF on the left. Reached the BROWN Line at 2.10 pm and halted. Companies deployed into waves and fixed bayonets for the attack.
At 3.10 pm advance from the BROWN line commenced. Hostile artillery NIL. First three prisoners captured by the mopping up party in CAN trench. At 3.20 pm ravine NE of ATHIES crossed. Four 5.9 in. guns and one 77 m/m gun captured. Some of the crews captured in dug-outs. reached the 4th German system at 3.40 pm. Wire uncut. could see most of the enemy running away. Two hostile MGs opened fire in front of us and killed three men cutting wire. These were put out of action by two of our Lewis guns, the gunners advancing firing from the hip.
Entered the 4th German System and cleared out dug-outs. Total prisoners captured about 150 and three machine guns. Advanced to the GREEN line at 4.10pm. Line formed and consolidated on sunken road running from FAMPOUX to the HYDERABAD REDOUBT. Enemy quiet, a few HE shells fell in the position between 3.30 and 7 pm and some shrapnel was burst over us. Patrols pushed out to gain touch with the enemy.
Touch gained with the 1st SOMERSET L INFANTRY and RIFLE BRIGADE. Weather throughout the operation was fine with occasional showers. Casualties 11 O.R. killed, 63 O.R. wounded 14 O.R. missing - Capt R de AG Moneypenny wounded.

The final total recorded by CWGC as killed was 26, 11 of these with no known grave.

scene of the action

photo: Rodney Gibson

Cecil Betts is buried in Fampoux British Cemetery, grave A:18

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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