James Frederick Bell 6957 – 16th Battalion Manchester Regiment

XIII Platoon, 16th Manchesters.  Courtesy manchesters.org

XIII Platoon, 16th Manchesters. Courtesy manchesters.org

James was Arthur Bell’s cousin.  His father, John Andrew Bell was Arthur’s father’s elder brother.  James’ mother, Sarah Ellen had been born in Glasgow.

Manchester Stock Exchange James BellPrior to hostilities, James had been a stock broker’s clerk for Mr A. W. Walton and lived at 39 Mawson Street, Chorlton on Medlock, just south of Manchester city centre.  He had been born in Summer of 1892.

James enlisted on 3rd September 1914 (SWB Roll) and  is recorded in the Book of Honour for the 16th Battalion – the 1st City Battalion – of the Manchester Regiment as XIII Platoon, D Company.  His training was very similar to Arthur’s and he also entered France on 8th November 1915.  As part of 90th Brigade, the 16th Battalion followed similar exploits and actions in the Somme – notably alongside Arthur Bell in Montauban Alley on the 1st-2nd July 1916.  See The Big Push – Montauban

The 16th Battalion generally swapped duties in the Maricourt trenches and billets in Suzanne during the first half of 1916.  Lieutenant Nash commanded XVI Platoon of 16th Battalion.  He kept a detailed diary of events that was edited and published by his son in 1991 as The Diary of an Unprofessional Soldier: T. A. M. Nash .  This is an excellent resource, illustrating the daily routine of trench life.  One section deals with the transit of rations from the cookhouse to the front.  It appears to identify Frederick, who may have transferred to XVI Platoon – still D Company at some stage:-

“We were able to send up hot food…carried up to the trenches in dixies by the platoon ration carriers…whose sole duty was to get hot food up to their mates in the trenches…These ration carriers were the bravest men in the Battalion…consistently shelled but never failed to feed their platoons.  Wallace and Bell carried rations for my platoon.”

James was wounded in the back and legs during the Montauban assault, quite possibly from enfilade fire from the machine gun post at The Warren.  He presumably returned home to hospital.  Records identify the family home as  178 Hyde Road, Ardwick.

At some stage after his recuperation the SWB roll show that James joined the 69th Training Reserve Battalion with a second Regiment Service Number – 25763.  The 69th had originally been denoted as the 25th (Reserve) Battalion.  Formed in September 1915 – as the depot companies of the 16th, 17th & 18th Battalions (90th Brigade) – the 25th was based in Altcar, near Southport, in May 1916.  It was redesignated as the 69th Training Reserve Battalion of 16th Reserve Brigade on 1st September 1916.*

James was discharged unfit for duty, due to his wounds, on 25th April 1917.  The same as his cousin Arthur Bell, James received a Silver War Badge and  the three service medals, Pip, Squeak and Wilfred About – The Steel Helmet.

James also received a Disability Pension for 30% Disability for Wounds to his left Thigh.  He lived at 42 Brunswick Street, Chorlton on Medlock.

James married Maggie McLean at St. Thomas, Ardwick on 26th June 1918 when he was living at 42 Brunswick Street.  Maggie’s father is noted as named James Bell McLean.   They lived at 14 Fairhurst Street.   James’ brother, Leonard Richard, witnessed the vows.

I only just discovered this relative and hope to find out more.  Thanks to Mack of The Manchester Regiment Group Forum for helping with some key information and watch this post, but I’ve made a mental note not to follow this path too far….

XIII Platoon, 16th Manchesters Roll of Honour. Courtesy manchesters.org

XIII Platoon, 16th Manchesters Roll of Honour. Courtesy manchesters.org


11 thoughts on “James Frederick Bell 6957 – 16th Battalion Manchester Regiment

  1. Margaret Quilter

    My Great Uncle Harold South Private 6805 of 16th service battalion ‘c’ coy died on 1.7.16.
    I’ve put information on lives of the first world war website. His name is on Thiepval memorial,
    pier and face 13a &14c.Address 1 Plymouth St. Chorlton upon Medlock

    1. 8055bell Post author

      Hi Margaret,
      Thanks for leaving the note. I read the ‘Lives’ entry with interest and think I need to start using the site. I fear I could spend days though! The entry for Reggie shows a lot of painstaking work!
      I’ve uploaded Percy and Harold’s Platoon Roll and Photo from Heaton Park. https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/lifestory/4195265
      I thoroughly recommend you join http://www.themanchesters.org/forum/index.php You will find members are able to dig out other information on your family, particularly other press cuttings. Also try on http://www.salfordwarmemorials.co.uk/ where members will be keen to help.
      All the best

      1. Margaret Quilter

        Thank you for sharing the photograph etc. I spotted your contributions on the Lives of the First World War and felt excited that someone else was sharing the past . I think that the ‘ Lives’ site is a fitting tribute and well worth the time spent on it.

      2. Margaret Quilter

        I am also remembering two of my Great Uncle’s ‘pals’ from X platoon. Rowland Ashton 6713 and Frank Watson 6805.I wondered if you could upload their roll and picture from Heaton Park.
        I hope to join the forum, but am unsure how to go about it.

      3. 8055bell Post author

        Hi Margaret,
        I’ll try to upload the pics for Rowland & Frank at the week end. You can actually do this yourself by saving the saving the images from Harold’s entry on your PC and re-posting on his Pals entries.
        Just send an email to the Manch Forum and they will set you up. Definitely worthwhile for your further research as there are some real experts their and all sorts of data eg all the Platoon rolls are shown. Details below:-
        Due to the amount of spammers trying to get on the Forum we have had to change the registration method

        Please drop us an Email with your chosen user name, password and Email, and we will set up your account and email you back

        Send information to




        Changing the (at) for @

      4. Margaret Quilter

        I’m happy to upload the pictures myself, now I know how. Thanks so much for your time and help.

  2. Margaret Quilter

    Sorry, I meant to add that I’ve been in contact with SWARM. They have been brilliant. They have
    posted the Strawberry School Anniversary Programme and sent a copy to the Salford Library.
    My Grandfather is remembered on two war memorials (Pendleton Unitarian Church and Manchester Stock Exchange) but I’ve drawn a blank with my Great Uncle.

    1. 8055bell Post author

      Hi Margaret,
      I’ve updated Harold’s place of employment on ‘Lives’. I’ve also put a Roll including a P. South on your grandfather’s post. The Stock Exchange Roll does not include Percy.
      Hope this helps.

      1. Margaret Quilter

        Hi Tim, Thank you so much for passing this information on. Harold and Percy were my Great Uncles. I knew that Percy worked for the newspapers but I didn’t know about Harold . The 1911 census shows that he was a ‘traveller.’ I’ve been to St. Ann’s Church and seen the brass plaque to those who worked at the Stock Exchange and my Grandfather’s name,Reginald’ is on that. I visited Manchester only yesterday and went close to Parker Street. Thanks again for remembering my family and me! Margaret

  3. williamsjc

    Thank you for sharing the photo and list for Platoon No.XIII. We have a photo at home of my great-grandfather’s cousin 6960 Thomas Broadbent. I’ve not yet been able to identify him in the group portrait but will keep looking at it!

  4. 8055bell Post author

    Morning William, Please join the Mancehsters Forum and post the photo. I have a hard copy of the book of honour and can zoom to possible candidates. There’s evidence Sgt Broadbent captured German guns at Montauban. Tim ps I try (& fail) to keep on topic with 17th Bn here and direct people to the forum to gain wider help.


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