yeovil at War
Died while a prisoner of war
Because the name George Bell is so common it is all but impossible to differentiate those born in Bath who later lived in Yeovil. It is known that George was married, although the name of his wife is unknown, and they lived at 22 Everton Road, Yeovil. Before joining up George was the Head Boots at the Mermaid Hotel.
It is not known when George enlisted but he did enlist at Yeovil. He served in the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment, and his Service Number 203353 suggests he enlisted in 1917.
The 10th (Service) Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, had been in France as part of the 57th Brigade in the 19th (Western) Division since July 1915 for service on the Western Front. It is likely that George was serving with this regiment by September 1917.
During the last quarter of 1917 the 10th (Service) Battalion, most likely including George for much of the fighting, saw an enormous amount of action. The Battalion took part in the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (20 to 25 September 1917), the Battle of Polygon Wood (26 September to 3 October 1917), the Battle of Broodseinde (4 October 1917), the First Battle of Passchendaele - part of the Third Battle of Ypres (12 October 1917) and the Second Battle of Passchendaele - the culminating attack of the Third Battle of Ypres (26 October to 10 November 1917).
In June 1918 the battalion did not take part in any set battles on the Western Front but by 22 June 1918 the 10th (Service) Battalion, with so many casualties, was reduced to a training cadre and most remaining personnel transferred to the 3rd Battalion of the same Brigade and Division. On 28 June 1918 the remaining cadre transferred to the 121st Brigade of the 40th Division and on 10 November 1918 it was absorbed by the 17th Battalion.
George was reported missing in action on 22 March 1918 but by August it had been conformed that he was a prisoner of war and in its edition of 23 August 1918 the Western Gazette reported "Private G Bell, of the Worcesters, who home is at 22 Everton Road, was reported as missing since March 22nd. It has now been definitely ascertained that he is a prisoner of war in Germany."
In its edition of 13 September 1918 the Western Gazette reported "Mrs. George Bell, of 22 Everton Road, Yeovil, has received a postcard from her husband, Private George Bell, of the Worcester Regiment, to the effect that he is a prisoner of war in Germany. The postcard is dated June 23rd, and says that he is in the best of health, and keeping alright, but, of course, being a prisoner of war, is not very nice - it is “not like home.” They are short of tobacco and cigarettes. Private Bell was formerly head boots at the Mermaid Hotel, and writes from Parchim [a town in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany]."
It appears however that George died, while still a prisoner of war, on 23 October 1918. He was buried in Mons (Bergen) Communal Cemetery, Hainault, Belgium, Grave X.A.11 and his name is inscribed on the War Memorial in the Borough and also in the County of Somerset Book of Remembrance in St Martin’s Chapel, Wells Cathedral.
Men of the Worcestershire Regiment going into action.
The battlefield of Polygon Wood, 25-27 September 1917.
The battlefield of Broodseinde, 4 October 1917.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of George Bell.
Mons (Bergen) Communal Cemetery, Hainault, Belgium
Mons remained in German hands from the Battle of Mons (23 August 1914) until the arrival of the Canadian Corps on 11 November 1918. The communal cemetery was extended by the Germans on its north side and in this extension, now part of the town cemetery, were buried Russian, French, Italian, Romanian and Belgian soldiers, as well as German and Commonwealth. The 4th Canadian and 1st Casualty Clearing Stations, besides field ambulances, were posted in the town after the Armistice. They opened a new cemetery (Mons British Cemetery) across the road from the east gate of the communal cemetery, but the graves made there were later removed to the communal cemetery. There are now 393 Commonwealth burials or commemorations of the First World War in the cemetery. The Commonwealth plots were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.