Samuel Bell was born in 1897 in Chadderton to parents Joseph & Hannah. The Bell's were a large family, eleven children in all and six served during World War 1. Two of them were killed - Samuel & brother William. The names of 10 of Samuel's siblings are known; David,Sarah, Thomas, Alfred,Joseph,John, William ,Septimus, Hannah & Alice.
In 1891 the Bells were living on Victoria Street in Chadderton and in 1901 were just around the corner on Garforth Street. At some point in the following decade the family moved to Royton to run the Old Engine Inn on Streetbridge. The site of this pub is now just over the border in Chadderton but seems to have fallen under Royton at that time. Samuel married Sarah Jane Lane in 1910 and they lived together at Royley Clough with Samuel working at the Vine Mill. They had three children together - Ivy (born 1911), Robert (1912) & Samuel (1914).
A date for when Samuel joined the army is unknown but we do know that he enlisted in Royton and was sent to join the 3rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment who were part of the garrison on the Humber.
On Friday 31 March 1916,Samuel and others from the battalion arrived in Cleethorpes. Their role was to strengthen the coastal defences in the area against German attack. As the men unpacked and settled into their billet in the Baptist Church Hall on Alexandra Road, five German Zeppelins were heading across the North Sea from their base in Nordholz, northern Germany. Their mission was to attack London and East Anglia.
As it approached England, Zeppelin L22, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Martin Dietrich, developed engine problems, so instead of heading for London as planned the pilot changed course for Grimsby docks. Shortly before 1 a.m. on Saturday 1 April the 518ft long airship crossed the east coast. As Dietrich passed over what he believed to be Grimsby, searchlights locked on to the L22 and an anti-aircraft gun opened fire but failed to do any damage.The Zeppelin released some 25lb bombs which landed harmlessly in open countryside near Cleethorpes. It then headed out to sea, dropping a flare which fell on the river end of the pier, before turning round for a second attack.
Three further bombs were dropped. One hit Sea View Street, shattering shop windows; a second destroyed the local council offices; while the third scored a direct hit on the Baptist Church Hall. Of the 84 men in the billet, 27 died instantly and 53 were injured, five dying later from their wounds. Four men were rescued uninjured from a small cellar under the hall where they had sneaked off to for a game of cards.Thirteen of the dead were from the Oldham area. Due to war-time reporting restrictions the Oldham Chronicle could only refer to the incident as occurring ‘on the East Coast’ while The Times reported it as occurring ‘in a village of no military significance’.
On the morning of Tuesday 4 April a full military funeral for 24 of the dead took place while other men were buried privately by their relatives.People lined the streets, all traffic came to a standstill and shops closed. The massed bands of the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the Manchester Regiment and the 3rd Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment led the parade as the coffins were carried from St Aiden’s Church to Cleethorpes Cemetery on eight motor lorries draped with the Union Jack and covered with wreaths and other floral tributes.
The parade included about 70 family mourners followed by the whole of the 3rd Battalion the Manchester Regiment and detachments of the 4th Manchester and 3rd Lincolnshire Regiments.Representatives of Cleethorpes District Council, clergymen, local tradesmen and members of the public also attended.
The 24 coffins were laid in two long graves adjoining each other. Almost two years later, on 9 March 1918 a tall white stone memorial cross, paid for by public subscription, was unveiled in the cemetery. Samuel Bell's name is to be found on the central panel:
photo courtesy of Tony - his Scartho Road Cemetery website
In the Oldham Chronicle of April 6th 1918 the following appeared in memory of Samuel,William & a nephew,A Bell who had been killed in 1917:
Soldiers,rest,your warfare o'er
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking
Dream of battlefields no more
Days of danger,nights of waking
For at dawning to assail ye
There no bugles sound reveille
Ever remembered by their three sisters,and Tom,Jack,Sep
(brothers in France) and Percy in India
For some reason even though Samuel was a long time resident of Royton he does not appear on the war memorial even though his brother William does.Samuel's wife, Sarah Jane, moved to Broadway on Chadderton and perhaps she was expecting his name on that town's memorial (unfortunately it does not list the names of Chadderton's war dead).
The other men killed were:
BALL WILFRED ERNEST Private 30358 from Ardwick
BEARDSLEY JOSEPH Private 32238 from Ilkeston
BEAUMONT LOUIS ARCHIE Private 34637 from Oldham
BODSWORTH ROBERT Private 2425 from Northants
BRIERLEY THOMAS Private 30117 from Oldham
BROWN WILLIAM HENRY Private 34621 from New Moston
BUDDING ERNEST Private 34619 from Hollinwood
CHANDLER FRANK Private 32914 from Middleton Junction
CHANDLER JOSEPH Private 32997 from Denton
CLOWES JOB Private 34618 from Failsworth
CORFIELD JOHN HENRY Private 34625 born Stafford,enlisted Hollinwood
CUTHBERT HARRY Private 34633 from Leeds
DIMELOW FREDERICK Private 30241 from Ardwick
DIVINEY THOMAS Private 30401 from Oldham
DOWNS ALBERT EDWARD Private 32215 from Denton
FOX ROBERT Private 34620 from Oldham
FRANCIS WILLIAM Private 32034 from Hulme
HANNON THOMAS Private 32263 from Manchester
HARRISON PERCY Private 33107 from Hurst
HAYNES ALFRED Lance Corporal 32323 from Manchester
HETHERINGTON WILLIAM Private 30126 from Miles Platting
PIERCE TOM Private 32278 from Manchester
RADFORD JOSEPH Private 27724 from Stalybridge
RAMSDEN HENRY Private 27902 from Manchester
RUSSELL JAMES Private 30179 from Manchester
SWIFT JACK Lance Corporal 33055 from Wallasey
TOMKINSON THOMAS Private 32275 from Manchester
WHEELER JOHN 19 Private 27591 from Stockport
WILD WILLIAM Private 34639 from Oldham
WOOD ROBERT Private 27537 from Oldham.Previously lived in Royton
Date of Death:01/04/1916
Much of this entry is taken from GM 1914 - The First World War in Greater Manchester