Hartford woman appeals for help in search for family’s past

Robert Beetham with his father John Thomas Beetham

Robert Beetham with his father John Thomas Beetham - Credit: Archant

WHEN Pat Glover began to delve into her family history, little did she know that her search would take more than a decade and leave her with many more questions than answers.

After trawling ancestry websites and Huntingdonshire’s archives, Mrs Glover, 63, has pieced together information about her grandfather Benjamin Beetham and her great uncle Robert Beetham, who both served in the First World War.

However, she is now appealing to Huntingdonshire residents with any more information about the Beetham family to contact her as she wishes to set up a plaque in their memory to mark the centenary of the First World War next year.

Brothers Benjamin Percy Arthur Beetham and Robert Albert Beetham lived in Sapley Lane, Hartford, with their parents John and Louisa Beetham before volunteering for the army when war broke out in 1914.

Benjamin joined the Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalion and later served as a bombardier in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

He fought in numerous engagements and was temporarily sent home for treatment after being burnt and shot in both arms on the Somme in 1917. Once his wounds had healed he returned to the front line in Cambrai where he fought until the armistice.

In 1921, he married Mrs Glover’s grandmother Susan Rogers and the couple had two children, Benjamin William and Albert Alan. The family suspect that he died of TB aged 39 in 1931.

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His brother Robert was a gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery and took an active part in the fighting at the Somme before he was gassed in battle in France. After initially being treated in Bonn he was sent back to England to receive hospital treatment, but he died in 1920 aged just 23 due to complications from exposure to gas.

Following extensive research and a visit to the area, Mrs Glover, of Bounds Green, London, and her brother Stephen and sister Jacqueline have found that both brothers were likely to have been buried at All Saints Church, Hartford, although they cannot identify the plots as there are no grave markings.

Mrs Glover said: “It has taken years to try to find all of this – it just seems that they disappeared off the face of the earth. It all seems to be as if they never existed.”

Her search began in earnest in 2000 after discussing her family history with Stephen and Jacqueline and realising that they did not know anything about the Beethams.

She said: “Quite unexpectedly about 2am one morning I stumbled upon the photos on the Huntingdonshire Cyclist Battalions website. That was my light bulb moment and I thought ‘you are calling me, asking me to find you’.”

The family hopes that someone will be able to help them to learn more about the lives of the Beetham brothers.

Mrs Glover said: “If we are given permission we just want to get a little plaque, nothing huge and ostentatious. We just want to mention the two Beethams who risked their lives for Huntingdon and country.”

INFORMATION: If you have any information about the Beetham brothers, e-mail Pat Glover at patglover1@hotmail.co.uk