Private Joshua Bell


Some of the family background of this North Irish Horseman is unclear. While, according to his service file, he was born at St Anne's, Shankill, Belfast, the 1901 Census gives his place of birth as England. He may have been the Joshua Bell born on 11 January 1866 at 23 Little Henry Street, Belfast, to boatman Joshua Bell and his wife Mary (née Lackey).

On 22 April 1889 Bell married Mary Ann McMurray in the Frederick Street Methodist Chapel, Belfast. At the time he was living at 305 Shankill Road and working as a labourer. The couple had seven children over the next ten years. At the time of the 1901 Census he was living in Weir Street with his wife and children and working as a labourer in an iron works.

Bell enlisted in the Imperial Yeomanry at Belfast on 25 February 1901 (No.35182). He served in South Africa in the Boer War with the 74th (Dublin) Company from 13 April 1901, returning home on 1 August the following year. He was discharged on 7 September 1902, his military character recorded as 'very good'.

On 30 September or 1 October 1914 Bell enlisted in the North Irish Horse (No.1222). On 1 May 1915 he embarked for France with D Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 51st Division.

In May 1916 D Squadron came together with A and E Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps. In February 1917, however, Bell transferred to the Army Ordnance Corps (No.027151), probably due to his age – he was around 50 at the time.

Bell remained with that regiment until the end of the war. On 26 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

By 1941 Bell was living with his wife at 98 Dundee Street, Belfast. He died on 10 October that year and was buried in the City Cemetery - Glenalina Extension.