The birth of Archibald Colin Bell, the second son of Francis and Catherine Bell, was registered in 1884 in Portsea, Hampshire.

The 1891 census shows the Bell family living at 24 Cleveland Road, Portsea:-
Catherine Bell Head Widow 40 Laundress Hants, Portsmouth
Francis Bell Son x 11 Scholar London, Pimlico
Blanche Bell Daur x 9 Scholar Hants, Southsea
Archibald Bell Son x 7 Scholar Hants, Southsea
Helga Bell Daur x 3 x Hants, Southsea
Julia Bell Mother x 69 Living on own means Hants, Portsmouth
  The family were still living at 24 Cleveland Road (now shown as Portsmouth) in 1901:-  
Catherine Bell Head Widow 49 Laundress Hants, Portsmouth
Francis W. Bell Son Single 21 Labourer, HM Dockyard London
Blanche K. Bell Daur Single 19 Confectioners Shop Assistant Hants, Portsmouth
Archibald C. Bell Son Single 17 Bricklayers Labourer Hants, Portsmouth
Helga R Bell Daur Single 13 x Hants, Portsmouth
Herbert Legg Boarder Single 22 Bricklayers Labourer Oxford
Archibald Bell
On 6th April 1915 Archibald Colin Bell married Caroline Emma Gifford at Sydling St. Nicholas, Dorset. At that time he was a 31-year-old bachelor, employed as a postman, living in Sydling St. Nicholas. Caroline was a 23-year-old spinster living in Stratton. She gave her occupation as ‘servant’. Caroline's father, John Henry Gifford was shown on the marriage certificate as a labourer. Witnesses to the marriage were Catherine Bell and John H. Gifford.

On 10th December 1915 Archibald enlisted at Cerne Abbas. His attestation papers show that he was aged 31 years 293 days. He was 5’ 8¾” tall. Employed as a Postman, he had previous military service with the 2nd Dragoon Guards. On 11th December 1915 he was placed on the army reserve.

Archibald Bell
Stratton Photographic Archive

  On 31st May 1916 Gunner 87710 A. C. Bell was mobilized and joined the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was posted to 3 Depot R.G.A and then to 45 Company R.G.A. on 17th June 1916.

On 15th July 1916 he arrived at R.G.A. ‘B’ Siege Depot in Bexhill, Sussex and remained there until being posted overseas as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 8th September 1916.

On 20th September 1916 Archibald joined 57 Siege Battery in the field. Within a month, on 15th October 1916 he was admitted to hospital ‘sick’ and invalided to England on 23rd October 1916 reaching the Highfield Lane Hospital, Southampton on 24th October 1916.

Posted to 42 Company on 2nd February 1917, then attached to 378 Siege Battery on 19th February 1917, and posted to 37 Company on 24th May 1917, he remained in England until 24th July 1917.

On 1st August 1917 Archibald joined 160 Siege Battery. 160 Siege Battery was raised at Pembroke Dock, Wales on 23rd May 1916 and first deployed overseas in France on 18th September 1916.

Siege Batteries RGA were equipped with heavy howitzers sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire.

The usual armaments were 6 inch, 8 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers, although some had huge railway or road mounted 12 inch howitzers. As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strong-points, dumps, stores, roads and railways behind enemy lines.


9.2 inch howitzers of a Siege Battery in action on the Western Front

  Archibald Bell was killed in action on Friday 10th August 1917 aged 33 years.  
  He was buried in Klein-Vierstraat British Cemetery, Heuvelland, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium (Grave Reference – III. A. 18.) Klein-Vierstraat British Cemetery is located 6km south west of Ieper. The cemetery was begun in January 1917 and Plots I to III were made by field ambulances and fighting units before the middle of January 1918. The British Cemetery now contains 804 First World War burials, 109 of them unidentified.  
Klein-Vierstraat British Cemetery – Commonwealth War Graves Commission
On 11th January 1918 Archibald’s personal effects were returned to his widow. She received a Disc; photos; 2 pipes; pocket case; Registration Card, 6d stamp; tobacco pouch; purse; pencil; and a broken cap badge.

On 1st March 1918 the Ministry of Pensions awarded Caroline Bell a pension of 13/9d per week to take effect from 25th February 1918.

The 1918 Register of Electors (the first made following the Representation of the People Act 1918) shows Caroline Emma Bell living in Grimstone.

Archibald’s medal entitlement was the British War and Victory Medals.

A Royal Garrison Artillery Record Office statement dated 7th May 1919 listing the names and addresses of the relatives of the deceased soldier reads:-
Widow Caroline Emma Bell x Grimstone, Dorset
Father Deceased x x
Mother Catherine Bell 68 yrs 29, Mafeking Road, Southsea
Brother Francis William Hansley Bell 39 yrs 65, Stansted Road, Southsea
Sister Blanche Kate Greenfield 37 yrs 49, Fordingbridge Road, Southsea
Sister Helga Rose Greenfield 31 yrs 29, Mafeking Road, Southsea
  Archibald Bell is not only remembered on Stratton War Memorial. His name also appears on the War Memorial in St Nicholas Church, Sydling St. Nicholas, and on the memorial stone at the Main Post Office, Dorchester.  
War Memorial in St Nicholas Church, Sydling St Nicholas
Memorial outside the main Post Office, Dorchester
  On 1st August 1922 Caroline Bell married Henry Bird at Stratton. He was a 34-year-old bachelor employed as a dairyman in Stratton. His father, William Bird was also a dairyman. Caroline was shown as a 31-year-old widow at this time. Witnesses at this wedding were George Bird, Charles Gifford and J. Gifford.  
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