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Civilian Victor Reginald Betts
Second World War Civilian War Dead 1939-1945 United Kingdom
By Philip Baldock

United Kingdom

Civilian Victor Reginald Betts
View record on CWGC
Died 3rd November 1940, buried Hailsham Cemetery, Sussex

Civilian Victor Reginald Betts

...aged 36, was the son of Mrs Rose Annie Parter (formerly Betts) of 51 Channel View Road, Eastbourne.

The 1911 census records him living with his family at 206 Latimer Road, Eastbourne. Head of the family was John Henry Porter, a labourer, born 1864 at Hastings. Rose, born at Brighton in 1875. Children recorded were Henry George Parter, born 1886, step son Frederick Henry Betts, born 1898, step daughter Rosie Ellen Betts, born 1901, Step son Victor Reginald Betts, born 1904, Stepson Dorothy Winifred Betts, born 1906 and James Stephen Parter, born 1910.

Victor was a member of the Home Guard, and lived with his wife Gertrude at 5 Norway Rd, Eastbourne. On the 2nd November 1940, he was seriously injured at Middle Road, Rushlake Green when a bomb fell close to the Southdown bus that he was travelling on, blowing it over a bank and a hedge, where it ended up on its side in a field, killing four passengers –four men and a woman, including the bus conductor.

Victor died in Hellingly Military Hospital the next day. The Eastbourne Gazette for the 6th of November 1940 reported the incident under the headline “Bus hurled over hedge by bomb” .The report states that

“Four persons were killed and two others died later on when on Saturday night a German high explosive bomb fell close to a motor bus. The vehicle was proceeding along a narrow south-eastern country lane. So terrific was the blast of the exploding bomb that the bus, a single decker, was hurled over the hedge which skirted the roadway. It fell upon its side in a field, facing the direction opposite to that which it had been proceeding.

One of those who received fatal injuries was the conductor of the bus, Mr Victor R. Betts. Among the passengers who lost their lives were Mr W.H. Russell and Mr Henry C Vernon.

The bus was making its way through the darkness along a narrow lane in a country district when a German raiding plane released its death-dealing load. One of the bombs fell between the vehicle and a hedge topped bank at the roadside. Lifted into the air by the explosion, the bus went over the opposite hedge into a field landing upon its side. When in the air it must have turned round completely for when it fell it was facing in the opposite direction to that in which it was travelling.

By amazing fortune, the driver of the bus, Mr George Pope, escaped injury, although he suffered severe shock. When the vehicle fell on it side, the door of the driver’s cab was pinned to the ground, but Pope made his escape by kicking his way through the glass on the offside of the cab. He then went for help and afterwards gave assistance in dealing with the injured.

Mr Betts, the conductor, was taken to hospital with serious injuries and died the following morning. He leaves a widow and two children”. 

Victor is buried in Hailsham Cemetery.

This incident occurred at 19.50 hours when twelve high explosive bombs fell in the area between Three Cups and Rushlake Green. Many other bombs were also dropped in the hour from around 19.30 to 20.30 over a wide area between Winchelsea and Wivelsfield – with the largest concentration between Battle and Mayfield.

Those who died were:

Civilian Victor Reginald Betts;

Civilian Timothy Albert Taylor, aged 23 and a member of the Home Guard;

Civilian William Howard Russell, aged 51 of 3 Redoubt Road, Eastbourne.

Civilian Beryl Rogers, aged 20, Daughter of H. E. and Amy Rogers, of Resthome, Ghyll Road, Heathfield;

Civilian Henry Clifford Vernon aged 53, he was with the A.R.P. (Eastbourne Water Works); of La Verne, St. Anthony's Avenue, Eastbourne. Son of the late Henry Thomas Vernon, of 23 Leaf Road, Eastbourne; husband of Agnes Jane Vernon; and

Civilian Robert Charles Robins, aged 59 of Toll Lodge, Warbleton.

(copyright unknown)