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  • Joseph Henry Bell's headstone in Nottingham General Cemetery
Person Details
01 Apr 1888
He was the son of Cornelius and Ada Bell; the CWGC record only gives the name of his mother, Ada Bell. His RN service record gives his first name only as 'Joseph', the CWGC record gives 'Joseph Harry' and the notice of his death in the local paper describes him as 'Joseph (Harry)'. There has been some difficulty in tracing the family in the census records for the period 1881-1901 but although there are minor discrepancies in the ages given in each record it does seem that the following reflects the family's history. In 1891 Cornelius, a lace dyer, and Ada were living at 5 Trivett's Yard in the ecclesiastical parish of St Phillip, Nottingham. They had five children: Cornelius (13), 'Jno Hy' (9), Ernest (4), Harry (probably 'Joseph Harry', 3) and Ethel (8 months). However, the 1881 census lists a Cornelius Bell of the same occupation, lace dyer, living at 2 Hermit Place, Sneinton, with his wife Mary Ann Mansell Bell (nee Padley, m. Nottingham 1874, registered Jan/Feb/Mar), and one child, Cornelius, aged 2. It seems likely, therefore, that Ada was Cornelius' second wife. By 1901 Ada Bell (38), described on the census as a widow, and her four children, Ernest (15), Harry ('Joseph Harry', 13), Ethel (11) and Ada (9), were living at 14 Victoria Place in the parish of St Phillip. Ada was described as a boarder, occupation domestic housekeeper, and her family was living in the household of Arthur Wood, a widower. Arthur (34), a coal dealer, had three children, Arthur (12), Florence (3) and May (8 months). Three years later Joseph joined the Royal Navy buying his discharge in April 1914. Ada has been traced in the 1911 census to 5 Kingstone Street, Sneinton, in which she is described as Ada Wood, 'married' (26 years) and the head of the household. She completed the census that she had had ten children born alive of whom eight were still living. In the household at the time of the census were Ethel Bell (20), Ada Bell (18), Florence May Wood (13), May Wood (10) and Lily Wood (9), all of whom were described as her daughters. In the military census of the same year an Ernest Bell (b. 1887) was serving in 35 Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, at Fort Nelson, Fareham, Hampshire, and this might be Joseph's older brother. No record of a marriage has been found but the notice of Joseph's death in the local paper was placed by his widow, Mary.
He was a carter before joining the Royal Navy in 1904. He signed on for 12 years on his 18th birthday in April 1905 but was discharged shore (purchase) in April 1914. As he was discharged before completing his 12 year engagement he joined the Royal Fleet Reserve and so was mobilized in August 1914.
16 Dec 1919
2750354 - CWGC Website
Leading Stoker
Royal Navy
He joined the Royal Navy on 3 August 1904, doing his initial training at HMS Ganges. At the age of 18 on 1 April 1905, while still at Ganges, he enlisted for 12 years and on completion of initial training on 30 April 1905 joined Boscawen II on 1 May 1905. Subsequent ships/shore establishments were: Royal Arthur (15 September 1905-28 December 1905), Victory II (29 December 1905-19 March 1906), Berwick (20 March 1906-4 March 1907, rated Ordinary Seaman 1 April 1906), Nelson 5 March 1907-11 April 1907, rated Stoker), Pandora (12 April 1907-11 May 1907), Terrible (12 May 1907-27 June 1907), Victory II (28 June 1907-15 July 1907), Monmouth (16 July 1907-12 March 1910, rated Stoker 1st Class 21 February 1908), Andromeda (13 March 1908-23 April 1910), Victory II (24 April 1910-7 June 1910), Argonaut (8 June 1910-30 September 1910), Vivid II (1 October 1910-24 January 1911), Argonaut (25 January 1811-15 February 1911), Pelorus (16 February 1911-14 July 1911), Terrible (15 July 1911-31 August 1911), Pelorus (7 November 1911-31 January 1912), Jupiter (1 February 1912-27 April 1912), Black Prince (28 April 1912-20 April 1914, Acting Leading Stoker from 24 October 1913). He was discharged shore (purchase) and joined the Royal Fleet Reserve (Portsmouth B6768) Joseph was mobilised on 7 August 1914 (Victory II) and was rated Stoker 1st Class. He joined Hermioine on 18 August and served in this ship until 31 March 1915 (Acting Leading Stoker from 22 March 1915). Hermione is listed as his last ship on the Register of Seamens' Services although it is probable that a section of his service documents is missing as the CWGC record gives his unit as HMS Iris. Given this information, Joseph may have served in Iris at the time of the Zeebrugge Raid on 23 April 1918 or was attached to Iris for that particular operation; no record has been found that he was wounded or injured in the Zeebrugge raid. The notice of his death indicates that he had been discharged from the Royal Navy before his death; he may have served until the end of hostilities. He died at home in 1919 and was buried in Nottingham General Cemetery. He qualified for a war gratuity and the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Nottingham Post notice (abridged), December 1919: ‘BELL 16th inst. Joseph (Harry) husband of Mary Bell, late of the Royal Navy in his 32nd year, passed peacefully away. Interred General Cemetery.’
Remembered on


  • Joseph Henry Bell's headstone in Nottingham General Cemetery
    Photo Peter Gillings - Joseph Henry Bell's headstone in Nottingham General Cemetery
  • Grave, Nottingham General Cemetery. Photograph Rachel Farrand (December 2018).
    Joseph Harry Bell - Grave, Nottingham General Cemetery. Photograph Rachel Farrand (December 2018).