Munitions worker at Steeton Royal Ordnance Factory in West Yorkshire.
Betty Ginz is believed to have worked at Steeton Dump Royal Ordnance Factory during WW2. She was killed in a car crash in March 1942 along with Mr Barker (the driver) and workmate Hilda Falkingham.
Betty was born in Keighley on 3rd June 1922 and her birth was registered in the second quarter of the year. Her parents were Bernard Ginz and Jean Ginz née Paterson and at the time of Betty's birth they were living at 35, Cartmel Road in Keighley, having previously moved from 22, Edensor Road.
By 1939 Betty was seventeen years of age and still living at home at 30, Bar Lane in Riddlesden. Her father Bernard was employed as a textile designer and manager, mum Jean was looking after the family home and Betty was a trainee ladies hairdresser.
We are fairly sure Betty was working at Steeton Royal Ordnance Factory. The evidence is vague and deliberately so, because the factory was secret. We believe she did work there because she is one of three women involved in a fatal car accident on 11th March 1942. One other woman was Betty Wilkinson who survived with serious injuries and the other is Hilda Falkingham who was killed. Hilda's family got in touch with us in 2023, stating that her family knew she was working at the munitions factory.
They were all waiting for a bus at Steeton after work, when they were offered a lift in a car which they accepted, sealing their fates. Sadly this car was hit by a bus on a bad bend in the road and the driver and two of the three women were killed.
There is some circumstantial evidence in the newspaper report of the crash and Hilda's funeral, which mention several mourners from a factory where they worked, but it deliberately leaves out the name, or how they were employed. These deliberate ommissions point to some form of secrecy and as we now know, this was the only local factory at the time with such restrictions. Other mourners and their places of work were detailed in full, which highlights the ommissions.
Bradford Observer report dated 11th March 1942:
THREE KILLED IN ROAD CRASH.
The death in Keighley Victoria Hospital early today of Miss Betty Ginz, aged 20, of 30 Bar Lane, Riddlesden, has brought the death roll to three, following the collision between a West Yorkshire 'bus and a private car at Hawkcliffe Wood, between Keighley and Steeton yesterday morning.
The other two people killed were Francis Barker, aged 51, retail fruiterer, of 28, Bradley Road, Silsden, and Mrs. Hilda Falkingham, aged 24, of 14, Ryshworth Avenue, Morton Lane, Bingley.
Mrs. Falkingham's husband is serving in the Army.
Mrs. Betty Helliwell, aged 25, of 29, Mitchell Terrace, Bingley, also involved in the crash, is in the Keighley Hospital, and was today stated to be "fairly comfortable."
Leeds Mercury report dated March 11, 1942:
TWO KILLED. Bus and Car in Collision.
From Our Own Correspondent - Keighley, Tuesday.
Two people were killed and two injured in a collision involving a single-deck West Yorkshire bus and a motor car on the main Keighley-Skipton road, near Steeton, today.
Francis Barker (51), fruiterer and market gardener, Bradley Road, Silsden, the driver of the car, died before reaching Keighley and District Hospital; and Mrs. Hilda Falkingham (24), Rishworth Avenue, Morton Lane, Bingley, died about half an hour after admission to the hospital.
Mrs. Falkingham was a passenger in the car with Mrs. Betty Helliwell (25), Mitchell Terrace, Bingley, and Miss Betty R. Ginz (20), Bar Lane, Riddlesden, Keighley. The two last named are in hospital, Mrs. Helliwell with head injuries and fractured arms, and Miss Ginz with head injuries.
It was stated last night that Miss Ginz's condition was critical, and that Mrs. Helliwell was comfortable.
The three women had just finished work, and were waiting for a bus a Steeton, when they were given a lift towards Keighley by Mr. Barker.
At Hawkcliffe Wood corner there was a collision between the two vehicles, which were travelling in opposite directions. The car, which was wrecked, was turned completely round, and finished on the footpath.
The front of the bus was damaged, but no one in the bus was injured.
The inquest on Francis Barker and Hilda Falkingham was opened this afternoon and, after evidence of identification, was adjourned to a date to be fixed.
Keighley News, Saturday 14 March 1942:
'BUS CRASH INTO CAR
TRIPLE FATALITY AT STEETON.
MAN AND GIRL KILLED.
Three persons were killed and one injured as the result of a crash between a single-decker West Yorkshire Bus and a private car at Hawkcliffe Wood, between Keighley and Steeton, on Tuesday.
Those killed were Francis Barker, aged 51, fruiterer, 28, Bradley Road, Silsden; Mrs. Hilda Falkingham, aged 24, 14 Ryshworth Avenue, Morton Lane, Bingley, and Miss Betty R. Ginz, aged 19, 30 Bar Lane, Riddlesden.
Mrs. Betty Halliwell, aged 25, 49, Mitchell Terrace, Bingley was injured.
Barker was the driver of the car,and had given a lift to the three young women who were returning from work and coming towards Keighley.
The bus, which contained a number of passengers, was travelling in the opposite direction, and as it neared the corner at Hawkcliffe Wood, it developed a front wheel skid.
WRECKAGE ON THE ROAD.
The driver could not pull out of the skid, and he crashed into the car. The car was completely turned round and finished on the pavement and facing in the opposite direction to which it had been travelling.
It received severed damage, and pieces of wreckage were scattered about the road. The 'bus received damage to the front at the offside of the driver's cab, and the driver and passengers were severely shaken.
The driver of the car died before attention could be given to him, but the residents of Hawkcliffe Cottage, near where the accident happened, gave attention to the three injured girls, and the Keighley ambulance was called and the injured removed to Keighley Victoria Hospital, where the girl Falkingham died.
An inquest on the two victims was opened on Tuesday afternoon by the Deputy Coroner (Mr. Hubert Wright), but after hearing evidence of identification he adjourned the inquiry.
The body of Barker was identified by Warwick M. Stephens, of 4, Stone Grove, Steeton.
Mrs. Mary Falkingham, 14, Rishworth Avenue, Morton Lane, Bingley, identified the other body as that of her daughter in law. She told the Coroner that Hilda's husband was serving in the Army.
Miss Ginz died in hospital early the following day and an inquest was opened on the same day.
Evidence of identification was given by the father, Mr. Bernard David Ginz, of 30, Bar Lane, Riddlesden, Keighley.
Mr. Barker was well known in horticultural cirles throughout Craven. Only a short time ago he took over the business of fruiterer and greengrocer from Miss Thompson, at Bolton Road End, Silsden, and was on a journey in connection with the business when the accident happened. He served in the Great War, and had taken an active interest in the affairs at the Silsden British Legion Club, where he was a member of the committee. He was also an A.R.P. Warden at Silsden. When the Silsden Agricultural Shows were held annually Mr. Barker gave valuable assistance in the horticultural section. He leaves a widow and five daughters.
Hawcliffe Corner was known locally as difficult to negotiate because of it's 'adverse camber'. This is when a road slopes to one side and vehicles can be drawn down the slope, causing them to drift sideways. If this is coupled with a bend it can mean that a vehicle struggles to negotiate the bend, moving outwards and into the path of oncoming vehicles on the opposite side of the road. This is probably what happened on this day, as the bus travelling towards Steeton appears to have drifted across the centre of the road and into the car travelling towards Keighley.
The original camber of this bend can still be seen today in this photograph facing towards Keighley, the direction the car was travelling. The original footpath is much lower than the road surface, indicating that the road level has been raised to remove the adverse camber, to make the bend safer. Note the original cast iron road drain with a newer one in the road level above it.
Betty was nineteen years old when she died the day after the crash and she was buried shortly afterwards. She is buried in the family grave of her grandparents James and Elizabeth Paterson, in Utley Cemetery.
Betty's father Bernard had served in the Great War and survived. He died on 3rd August 1946 aged 54 years.
Betty's mother Jean died in 1970 aged 78 years.
England & Wales Births 1837-2006
Keighley News archives at Keighley Library
Bradford Council Bereavement Services at Keighley, for their kind help locating Betty's grave
Photos by Andy Wade.