William Bell was born in Chadderton in 1883. His parents were Joseph, a nut & bolt maker, & Hannah who were originally from Manchester and Salford respectively. Joseph & Hannah Bell had 12 children altogether - the names of 10 of William's siblings are known; David, Sarah, Thomas, Alfred, Joseph, John, Samuel ,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. William was not with them in 1901 however as he was living at Three Gates Farm, which is near Stakehill, and working for the farmer Joseph Tomlinson. William worked at several farms and after his death the Oldham Chronicle reported that, "he was well known by farmers in Chadderton and Royton, he having worked for many of them".
William's father Joseph is probably the Joseph Bell recorded as dying in Oldham in 1904 aged 55. Hannah Bell went on to run the Old Engine Inn which was on Streetbridge on the border between Royton & Chadderton, near to where the Horton Arms is. The site of the pub is now on the Chadderton side of the border but the 1911 census records it as being in Royton. William was living at the pub at the time of the 1911 census, and still working as a farm labourer.
William must have enlisted shortly after the outbreak of war, in Altrincham, and found himself in the 8th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. What took him to Altrincham is unknown, perhaps he had moved away from the Oldham area by then. His name however does not appear on that town's memorial.
The 8th Battalion was formed in Chester on August 12th 1914. They soon moved to Tidworth, a garrison town in Wiltshire, but by October of that year had moved to nearby Chisledon. In February 1915 they moved again, to Pirbright in Surrey, and in June 1915 embarked for Egypt and thence to Gallipoli.
The 8th Cheshires left Avonmouth on June 26th on the HMT Ivernia. Before the war the Ivernia had been a Cunard liner. She arrived in Malta on July 3rd and the following day left port again, arriving at Alexandria on July 7th. Another short turnaround and the 8th Cheshires were off again the following day to Mudros, the great staging post for the Gallipoli campaign, arriving on July 10th. The men remained onboard the Ivernia until July 14th when they were transferred ashore. The Ivernia was later to be torpedoed and sunk on January 1st 1917.
On July 16th the battalion's next and final leg of their journey to war began as they left Mudros and arrived at Gallipoli. The very next day William Bell was to die, no further detail is available to us other than the fact that he drowned.He was the first man from his battalion to die at Gallipoli.
A memorium notice later appeared in the Oldham Chronicle for both William and Samuel, who was killed in 1916, along with a cousin - A.Bell (probably this man) 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
Date of Death:17/07/1915
Panel Reference:Panel 76A