Bell, William Austin (No. 220)

Bell, William Austin (Austin)

Company Sergeant Major

No. 220, 16th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Died of wounds on Wednesday 1 August 1917 (aged 26)

Buried:

Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium (Grave III. E. 7)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Bangor and District War Memorial

Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque

Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum

Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church Bangor

BIOGRAPHY

In some records Austin Bell is named as Arthur Bell.

William Austin Bell was born on 8 April 1891 in Fisher’s Hill, Bangor and he was a son of Thomas and Annie Bell (nee McDowell) who were married on 25 December 1889 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church.  Thomas Bell, a widower from Bangor, was a son of Alexander Bell, a labourer.  Annie McDowell from Belfast was a daughter of William McDowell, a labourer.

Thomas Bell had previously been married to Margaret Ann Ferguson; they were married on 4 October 1878 in Linenhall Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast.

Thomas Bell worked as a stonemason and bricklayer and he and Annie Bell (nee MvDowell) had five children:

William Austin (born 8 April 1891 in Fisher’s Hill, Bangor)

Thomas (born 10 August 1893 in Victoria Road, Bangor)

Eveline (born 28 August 1895 in Holburn Street, Bangor)

Norman Beresford (born 8 October 1897 in Holburn Street, Bangor; died 25 December 1897)

Annie (born 2 October 1899 in Holburn Avenue, Bangor)

The Bell family lived at 45 Holborn Avenue, Bangor.

Austin Bell was 11 when his mother Annie died of a haemorrhage caused by a premature confinement on 16 September 1902 (aged 32).

Before the outbreak of the Great War Austin Bell worked as a tailor and he played football for Bangor Rangers.

Austin Bell enlisted in Bangor and served with the 16th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in the 36th (Ulster) Division.

It was reported in the Newtownards Chronicle that on several occasions he had been offered a commission but refused to take it, preferring to remain as a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO).

For his gallantry in bringing in wounded comrades under fire he was awarded an Ulster Division parchment certificate.

Company Sergeant Major William Austin Bell (No. 220) was 26 when he died of wounds on 1 August 1917 and he was buried in Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Company Sergeant Major William Austin Bell (No. 220) is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; on the Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque; in the Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum and in Hamilton Road Presbyterian Church Bangor.