Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The Betenson family were associated with the navy and the sea ever since Sidney's Grandfather William had left his home in Cornwall and joined the Royal Navy as a gunner in the 1840s. For the first few years of his service he probably had no permanent home but in 1847 he married Ann Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas and Ann Brine of Britain Street, Portsea.
For the first 6 years of their marriage it's likely that they travelled around with William's postings as there is no trace of them in 1851. In 1853 however their first child Charles was born, to be followed a few years later by Agamemnon (1858) and George (1860). The 1861 census lists the family sharing a house at 35 Buckingham Street and by 1871 William had retired from the navy and the family had found a home of their own at 10 Prince's Terrace. A fourth child, Elizabeth had been born in 1867.
William and Ann had moved round the corner to 24 Prince's Street before 1881 by which time their son George had married his wife Emma with whom he had a daughter May (b. 1880) and was living with them in lodgings at 25 Sterling Street. George hadn't followed his father into the navy but retained the connection to the sea in becoming a shipwright. The 1891 census shows George and Emma living at 229 Sultan Road with their five children, who in addition to May were Ernest (b. 1882), Harry (b. 1884), Sidney George (b. 18/7/1885) and Florence Grace (b. 1888). In 1899 George's father William died and his mother Ann moved into the house at Sultan Road which may have been convenient as George and Emma were not present for the 1901 census.
In 1909 Sidney George left home to join the Royal Navy at Chatham and in 1908 he married Alice Louisa Warren at Portsmouth. By 1911 the couple were living at Gillingham in Kent and according to the census that year Sidney was a Petty Officer. He was aboard HMS Formidable when on 1st January 1915 she was hit by two torpedoes and after listing heavily for some time sank with the loss of 35 officers and 512 men from a complement of 780. Sidney Betenson was one of those lost.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class Sidney George Betenson (M/1295), Royal Navy, HMS Formidable, died 01/01/1915, aged 29. Commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial (Panel 11). Son of George Betenson (R.N.), and Emma Betenson, of Portsmouth; husband of Alice L. Betenson, of 4, St. Mark's Rd., Portsmouth.
Sidney Betenson is also commemorated on the Buckland United Reformed Church WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Interestingly the name of Betenson SG also appears on the Buckland United Reformed Church WW1 Memorial to those who had served in the war and survived.
Tim Backhouse
November 2014