Walter Bell (1882–1960)


Royal Engineers 263389 607th (Plymouth) Fortress Company
1/5th Devon (EL) Company
8th Provisional Company

Photos courtesy Hazel Tully

Walter Bell in WW1

Walter relocated from Stoke Prior to Riddings in his youth. Marrying Elizabeth Phillips in 1912, he had a son and daughter. He enlisted at Chesterfield in Dec 1915, serving in the UK with the Plymouth Fortress Company (coastal defence) and the Devon Electric Light Company (searchlight duties). He was discharged as surplus to military requirements in Sept 1918 when his home address was given as Bullbridge. The family later relocated to Formby, Lancs.

Walter Bell rear of photograph of Walter Bell

Walter Bell

Walter and Elizabeth Bell c1950s

Army Service record
He enlisted 11 December 1915 at Chesterfield aged 33 years and 9 months, a married bricklayer living at 11 Wingerworth Terrace, Grassmoor, Chesterfield. His height was 5ft 4½in. He married Elizabeth Phillips on 19 September 1912 at Riddings Parish Church and had two children Kenneth Handel (29/5/1914) and Hazel Olive (17/9/1916). He was C of E and short sighted with fair hair and blue eyes. Walter was born at Stoke Prior, Bromsgrove, father William, mother Frances Mary
He worked on defence lights machinery recorded as skilled worker.
Bricklayer under Divisional Officers then Engine Driver under Defence Electric Lights.
On 26 May 1917 he had artificial denture and part lower denture fitted at the Public expence.
On 19 March 1918 he was recorded as "skilled" engine driver. Dispatched to Discharge Centre, (surplus to Military requirement) at Winchester on 18 September 1918 with home address of Bull Bridge, Ambergate, Derbyshire.
Before the war he worked for Walter Randall, Contractor, Hasland, Chesterfield

The Fortress Companies RE
The Fortess Companies at the start of the war
On 1 August 1914 there were 11 Fortress Companies at home and 15 overseas, all on coastal defence duties. Some were entirely for Electric Light (that is, searchlight) duty; others also had Works responsibilities. On mobilisation, men of the Territorial RE took over the home stations, releasing men for duty with the British Expeditionary Force – although not all regulars were withdrawn right away but were released gradually, their places being filled by men who were unfit for overseas service.
The Devon Electric Light Company was stationed at Plymouth, part of the South Western Coastal Defences.


1891: Hanbury Road, Stoke Prior, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
William Bell Head 60 Carpenter Castle Donington
Fanny Mary Bell wife 49   Worcestershire
John Luke Bell son 18 Carpenter Stoke Prior
Alice Bell Bell daughter 10 Scholar Stoke Prior
Walter Bell son 9 Scholar Stoke Prior
Fred Bell son 8 Scholar Stoke Prior

RG12 piece 2345 folio 120 page 19

1901: Newlands Road, Riddings, Alfreton

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
William Bell Head 70 Joiner Alfreton
Fanny Bell wife 59   Stoke Prior
Walter Bell son 19 Bricklayers Labourer Stoke Prior
Alice Bell daughter 20   Stoke Prior
Lily Bell grand daughter 11 Scholar Stoke Prior
Louis Bastin boarder 19 Bricklayers Labourer Saltley, Warwickshire

RG13 piece 3233 folio 18 page 28

1911: Newlands Road, Greenhill Lane, Alfreton

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Robert Luke Bell Head 45 Coal miner hewer Swadlincote
Elizabeth Martha Bell wife 42   Stoke Prior
Frances May Bell daughter 15   Alfreton
Francis John Bell son 14 school Alfreton
Florence Jane Bell daughter 11 school Alfreton
Nora Alice Bell daughter 9 school Alfreton
Ernest Walter Bell son 6 school Alfreton
Roland Arthur Bell son 1   Alfreton
Walter Bell boarder 29 Bricklayer Stoke Prior

RG14PN20997 RG78PN1252 RD436 SD5 ED9 SN192

1918 Crich voters
Walter Bell, Bull Bridge; absent on military service.

1939 Register: Formby, 10 Lonsdale Road
Walter Bell b.1 March 1882 ; builders foreman
Elizabeth Bell b.23 April 1888