Name: Francis Richard Lowry Bell
DoB: August 27 1891
DoD: February 22 1916
Academic Career: CGS 1904-9
Francis was born just six weeks before the death of his father after whom he was named. His mother, Elizabeth (nee Johnson) was 27 and also had a daughter Annie Mary, aged two.
Francis’s parents were Francis and Elizabeth (nee Johnston) Bell. They had married at Arthuret Church, Longtown in 1887 as Elizabeth’s family farmed in the area. Francis came from Hesket in the Forest where his family had farmed Inglewood House for three generations, Inglewood House is quite an impressive farmhouse, it is now grade two listed. Francis Senior’s younger brother had died three years earlier aged twenty-three, his father and all of his paternal uncles had also died. The executors of Francis’s will were Elizabeth’s brothers. Elizabeth left Inglewood and was living in Stanwix, Carlisle in 1901, and at Alstonby Villa, Westlinton in 1911, and Brampton in 1916. Elizabeth’s widowed mother Mary Johnston nee Hewitt also lived with them for some time. Elizabeth is described as living on “private means” in each census so presumably Francis Senior left her comfortably off.
On leaving school Francis joined the firm of J M Richardson & Son, then the Land Valuation Dept. of the Inland Revenue, and later Messers Frank and Rutley, of Edinburgh. In the probate register in 1916 his address is given as Burnfoot House, Wigton, where his mother lived.
Francis was a day pupil and a member of the debating society. He also won the bicycle race on sports day.
Francis joined the Border Regiment and was given a commission as 2nd Lieutenant. On his application form Mr G. H. Williams, the retired Headmaster of the Grammar School, was his referee. Francis is one of 549 soldiers buried at Norfolk Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt on the Somme. Wylly (pg 74) states,
“In February it (the battalion) was in the trenches near Meaulte, where there were many casualties, especially from shell fire, casualties which the small, if frequent, drafts which arrived at the front were hardly adequate to replace.”
The war diary describes several days of constant fighting many German prisoners were taken. The pages for the 23rd – 28th Feb 1916 are missing. His obituary in the Cumberland News says
“Lieutenant Bell who was attached to the 2nd Border Regiment, had only been in the trenches two or three days when he was struck by shrapnel and killed. He was a young man of great promise, only 24 years of age”.
2nd Battalion Border Regt.
He left his whole estate, valued at £2,514 7s 4d, to his sister Annie Mary . The family had ‘Until the day breaks and the shadows pass away” from The Song of Solomon inscribed on his gravestone.
2nd Border Regt War Diary. National Archives WO95/1655/1
www.Ancestry.co.uk Probate Register
CGS Memorial Register
Individual File at the National Archives, Kew WO339/40469
Wylly: History of the Border Regiment
Cumberland News 4/3/1916