Private William James Bell


The background of this North Irish Horseman is not known at present. It is possible that he was the William Bell born on 2 August 1880 at 75 Woodstock Road, Belfast, the fifth of thirteen children of agent (later brewery commercial traveller) William Bell and his wife Sarah Jane (née Crawford). On 7 September 1910 he married Louisa Margaret Hassard in the Rugby Avenue Congregational Church. At the time of the Census the following year they were living at 4 Stranmillis Gardens, William working as a shipping clerk.

Bell enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 6 or 7 October 1914 (No.1277 – later Corps of Hussars No.71317). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp before embarking for France on 17 November 1915 with F Squadron, which at the time was serving as divisional cavalry to the 33rd Division.

In June 1916 F Squadron combined with C Squadron and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men transferred to the infantry. By then, however, Bell had left the 2nd Regiment, either posted to a squadron of the 1st NIH Regiment or returned to the Antrim reserve camp.

On 30 January 1919 Bell was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

If in fact he was the man from Stranmillis Gardens, he returned there after the war, working as a shipping clerk and accountant. By 1951 he was living at 1 The Drive, Richmond Park, Belfast. He died on 12 January that year at the Royal Victoria Hospital, and was buried in the Dundonald Cemetery (see article below).


Belfast Telegraph, 13 January 1951