Betty Rigg (née Sale ‘1921)

Champion Golfer and Commander in British Red Cross Ambulance Service

Margaret Elizabeth Scott Rigg (1905 to 1976) had a most distinguished sporting and war record. Born in Melbourne in 1905, the family moved to Hobart when Betty was young and she completed her education to Leaving Certificate standard at Collegiate. In 1928 Betty took up a role as a car saleswoman, an unusual occupation at the time, but one in which she became highly regarded. Described as tall, smiling and the sporty type, Betty was a beautiful dancer and strong swimmer.

It was golf at which she excelled, winning the State Championship in 1934, 1935, a five times runner-up, and a member of multiple State Foursomes and State teams. Betty was a delegate to the Australian Golf Council and the Kingston Beach Club Champion in 1928, 1933, 1934 and 1935. In 1939 she travelled to England and en route played in the Colombo Associate Championship giving the local champion a fright when she had to go to the 36th hole to retain her title.

Upon arrival in England, Betty joined Henleys, an exclusive motor sales firm. However, in November of that year, she volunteered for the Women’s Transport Arm of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry Service, known as F.A.N.Y.S. Betty spent her travel money on an arctic kit including a flying helmet, fur-lined leather coat, boots and a supply of mens’ woollen underwear. She was part of a team that delivered 10 ambulances to Finland and worked tirelessly for the military hospitals conveying patients over tracks covered in ice and snow.

Following a posting to the British Red Cross Ambulance Unit as a Southern Commander in charge of Plymouth and Cossham, in 1942 Betty was commissioned and promoted to second in charge of the unit, becoming responsible for the inspection of ambulance stations and liaison with the British Army. In 1943 Betty was transferred to the Special Operations Executive – a part military organisation. She was promoted to Lieutenant and put in charge of F.A.N.Y personnel. Betty was also helping in training intelligence officers but was bound by the Official Secrets Act not to speak about it.

Further promotions followed when she was posted to Algeria in charge of a large draft of F.A.N.Y personnel and then as Captain in charge of female personnel in the Algerian Station. This station played an essential role in the recapture of Corsica, the negotiation for the surrender of Italy and the pre-invasion sabotage in southern France.

In 1945 Betty was promoted to Commander and posted to Australia to establish a Signal Station. After marriage and then returning to England, she took a job as an office manager and was partly responsible for arranging trade to Germany. She died suddenly at age 71 and still with a golf handicap of 9.



Officers of two British Army units were quietly married at the Church of England, Kempton, yesterday. They were Commander Betty Sale, formerly of Hobart, a member of the Women’s Transport Service (FANY), and Lt-Col Henry 0. Rigg, Royal Artillery.

The ceremony, for which they both wore uniform, was performed by the Rev L. E. Dando, and was followed by a family luncheon at Rosewood, the Bagdad home of the bride’s brother-in-law and sister. Mr and Mrs E. T. Swan.

The bride, a former well-known interstate golfer, is the youngest daughter of Mrs B. Sale, Hobart, and the late Mr J. H. Sale, and the bridegroom is the eldest son of Mrs F. G. Rigg and the late Rev J. B. Rigg, Sheffield, England.

Given away by her brother-in-law, the bride was unattended. Mr J. Baumber, of Melbourne, attended the bridegroom, who will leave next week on return to England for demobilisation.

The bride, who has served as a member of the PANY since the out-break of war, has a fine war record. She wears the ribbon of the MBE and a Finnish service ribbon in recognition of her services. After service in many theatres of war she returned to Australia from England last year to do liaison work with a British Army unit. Her demobilisation leave will be spent in Australia and she will leave about the middle of March for England. There she will be demobilised, and with her husband will live at 80 Ringinglow Rd., Sheffield. The couple met in North Africa while serving with their respective units in 1943.

1946 ‘OFFICERS OF BRITISH ARMY UNITS MARRIED’, The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), 6 February, p. 7. , viewed 04 Aug 2022,