Samuel Frederick Bell

Samuel F Bell

Samuel Bell, along with his younger brother and two older brothers, started at King Edward VII School at King’s Lynn in January 1897, when he was 12 years old. He probably left school in 1900.

Although he lived opposite where the school now stands, at ‘Woodstock’, Gaywood Road, there were only fields there and he would have had a daily walk to St. James’ Street where the former school buildings stood.

The family later moved to ‘Lyndhurst’, The Chase and by the time he left school they were living at ‘The Beeches’, West Bilney, although he is not commemorated on the memorial there.

(Webmaster Note. This is a quote taken from a book published around 1920 and is clearly incorrect – Samuel Bell’s name is indeed on the memorial at St Cecilia church West Bilney)

Nothing is known of his life between leaving school and his death on 31st October 1917,

(Webmaster note:- see below however for a report of his wedding)

but he was accepted into an exclusive regiment, The Artists’ Rifles, a training unit for potential officers and had achieved a promotion to Lance Corporal. This was a Territorial formation, which he would have joined at St. Pancras, but he would only have gone to France with them on 28th. October 1914 if he had been serving before the war started.

In the summer of 1917 the Battalion moved into the Ypres sector to join the 63rd. Division for the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

The battle had begun on July 31st, when the weather was already showery and by the autumn the legendry mud was at its worst and there was nothing green to be seen. At the end of October, the Artists’ Rifles were on the left wing of the latest attack, to the north-east of Ypres, with their headquarters at Albatross Farm. The Canadians, who were to have a successful day, were on their left.

The 29th October had been cold and windy, but it had been a bright moon lit night as the attack commenced at 5.50am the next morning. From the start, progress was almost impossible on the boggy slopes each side of the Lekkerboterbeek and the men were literally up to their knees in mud.

They were unable to keep up with the barrage and were caught in the open by the German guns. Later in the day the driving rain returned and visibility was down to two hundred yards. At 7.30 on the morning of the 31st, the Artists’ were withdrawn from the line, having suffered 334 casualties.

Samuel was probably killed in the initial stages of the attack, as he has no known grave. He was 33 years old.

On the 6th. November Passchendael was finally captured, 99 days after the battle began.

On Wednesday 13th. November a memorial service was held for Samuel at East Winch Church. The Reverend Whalley officiated, the choir sang and Miss Valentine, at the organ, played “O Rest in the Lord”.

Samuel’s name is recorded on the Tyne Cot memorial to the missing, at Ypres, Belgium.

Additional material confirms that Samuel Bell’s family lived at the Beeches, West Bilney. His father was listed on the census as a Government and Agricultural farmer, and Government food manufacturer.

On the 1901 census the family lived at 61 Tower End, Middleton, and Mr Bell senior is listed as a Manager of a game farm. Sam junior was at King Edward VII school.

Despite the text above stating that ‘nothing is known of his life between leaving school and his death’, a contemporary newspaper cutting records:-

“The wedding takes place in London tomorrow of Cadet Frederick Bell, Artists’ Rifles, third son of Mr. Samuel John Bell and Mrs. Bell, of West Bilney, and Marjorie Hollick Nash, daughter of the late Dr. Edmund Nash and Mrs. Nash, of 123 Lansdowne road, London, W.”

Samuel Bell was a member of the London Regiment ( Artists' Rifles ).

See a piece about The Artists' Rifles