Lance Corporal William Frederick Bettess 203106 of the 2nd Battalion, the Wiltshire Regiment died at Wytschaete near Messines on 27th October 1917, possibly as a result of injuries sustained during wiring party duties the previous evening.

William Frederick Bettess, usually known as Fred, enlisted before the start of the war and was transferred to the Wiltshire Regiment just weeks before his death. Fred's service record appears not to have survived. His wife Emma Jane (nee Maunder) was living in Bathpool in 1917, having moved from Polyphant. They had no children. His family came from Trewen and Emma's family from Altarnun. Emma remarried in 1941 to William Sandercock. Fred is buried at Torreken Farm Cemetery in Belgium (pictured below) and remembered on the Lewannick War Memorial.

"It is likely that Fred was a member of the pre-war territorial force but he had not volunteered for Imperial Service at the outbreak of war in 1914. Fred, like others from his regiment who were in the same position, was posted to a home service battalion. This would have been the 86th Provisional Battalion which was the original home service battalion of the Devon and Cornwall Brigade and effectively remained a 4th line for the 1st line units where the men came from. The 15th Devonshire Battalion was formed from the 86th Provisional Battalion on 1st January 1917.

"The Devonshire and Wiltshire Battalions were part of No.8 District in Southern Command and it was not uncommon for men in the 3rd and 4th line units to be transferred between them. In September 1917 the 15th Devonshire Battalion was again being screened for troops to be drafted overseas. Drafts to the front line from the 15th Devonshire Battalion continued throughout the war".

D Dycher, Great War Forum

The Medal Roll Index Card shows Pte William F BETTESS of the Devonshire Regiment #315012 and Wilts Regiment #203106.

The record of soldier's effects show that his widow, Emma, was awarded a total of £9 5s 7d.

Erratum: page 31 of "The Fallen of North Hill" shows the date of death as 17th October 1917; this should read 27th October 1917.

The images at the top of the page show (L-R): Lewannick War Memorial; Wytschaete in ruins. Photo by NELS; British War Medal (WW1)