Poppy Private Robert John Bell Poppy


Robert John Bell was born on 28 May 1891 at 87 Craigmore Street, Belfast, the third of eight children of bread server Robert John Bell and his wife Margaret Ann (née Brown). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 50 McClure Street, Belfast, with his parents and his six surviving siblings.

Bell enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 6 November 1915 (No.1796). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp, but fell-ill during 1916, having contracted pulmonary tuberculosis. On 29 September 1916 he was discharged, being 'no longer physically fit for war service' (paragraph 392 (xvi), King's Regulations).

Bell was later granted a pension due to the tuberculosis, which was attributed to his military service. In November 1919 his level of disability was assessed at 70 per cent.

Following his discharge Bell returned to his home at 50 McClure Street. His condition worsened, and he died there on 20 May 1921. He is commemorated on a family headstone in the Blaris Old Burial Ground, Lisburn, County Antrim.

At the time, Bell was not officially identified as a casualty of the war, although he appears to meet the criteria. A submission has been made to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission by the In From the Cold Project proposing that he be included on its roll of honour.




Two of Bell's brothers also served in the war. William Edward Bell served in France in the Canadian Army Service Corps in the 3rd Field Bakery. Henry Bell serving in the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards, was killed in action on 15 September 1916.


Henry Bell of the Irish Guards, from the Belfast Weekly Telegraph, 18 November 1916.


Gravestone image sourced from the Find a Grave website. Image of Henry Bell kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (www.greatwarbelfastclippings.com).