Alfred William Betty was born early in 1869, one of ten children to John Betty and his wife Hannah. John was a blacksmith, and the family lived in the Somerset town of Taunton.
After leaving school, Alfred found work as a silk throwster, twisting silk into thread or yarn. Thus was not the long term career that he sought, however, and in 1887 he enlisted in the Rifle Brigade. During a period of service that lasted 21 years, he fought in India and South Africa, rising to the rank of Quartermaster-Sergeant by the end of his tenure in 1908.
In 1896, Alfred had married Elizabeth Johnson, also from Taunton, who was herself the daughter of a soldier. The couple went on to have three children, two of whom survived – daughters Ella and Hazel.
By the time of the 1911 census, the family had set up home in Taunton. Alfred, now back on civvy street, was working as a clerk and had become involved in the town’s Holy Trinity Men’s Club.
War was on the horizon, however, and when hostilities broke out, Alfred quickly re-enlisted. Within a month of re-joining the Rifle Brigade, he was given a commission in the 13th Battalion. After initially being based in Winchester, by the summer of 1915 Lieutenant Betty found himself on the Front Line. He was involved in some of the fiercest fighting, and was caught up in the Battle of the Somme.
It was here that Alfred fell ill. While full details of his condition are not readily available, he contracted a prolonged illness, as a result of “hardship and exposure” [Western Daily Press, Saturday 24th March 1917].
Whatever the condition, it was serious enough for Lieutenant Betty to be invalided back to England and out of the army, and he returned to his family home in Taunton.
Sadly, Alfred’s condition was to take its toll on him, and he finally succumbed to it on 23rd March 1917. He was 48 years old.
Alfred William Betty lies at peace in St Mary’s Churchyard in his home town of Taunton in Somerset.