The Great War Centenary - 1917
From Front Line to White Lund
Echo of The White Lund Explosion
Letter from Sergeant Edmund Bell, Royal Defence Corps
Lancaster Observer, May 1919
Echo of The White Lund Explosion
Sir, In reference to your report in the local news of your issue of the
25th ult. the award of £5 5s to Quartermaster Wilson, of the St. John
Ambulance Association, Blackpool, I see Mr Wilson stated that it was
beyond his power to describe what happened whilst his ambulance car was
at work, but he fails to give to his association or the press the names
of the members of the Royal Defence Corps, who had carried the man from
the Filling Factory to the Girder Bridge. For about two hours before the
arrival of the ambulance car, four privates of 318 (Protection) Company,
Royal Defence Corps, had been trying to move the man to Lancaster
Infirmary, but he got so weak through loss of blood from a huge wound on
the chest, that they decided to remain with him, at the Girder Bridge,
and wait for assistance. I fail to see why Mr Wilson should get all the
credit for saving life on this occasion, when the man had been brought
from the Filling Factory to the Girder Bridge by Lancaster and
Manchester men. They also removed from the works a young woman to Mr
Pearson’s of Whittam House, Heysham, who had to remain there two or
three days before being fit to remove to her billet at Morecambe. Others
were removed to Snatchems and other places of safety by the guard.
I have read a good many reports in the local press about this explosion,
but they all fail to give credit to the guard for the assistance they
gave to hundreds of work people during their 48 hours continuous duty
without any outside assistance.
Formerly Company Quarter Master Sergeant , 318 Protection Company, Royal
97, The Ramparts, Lancaster, 28th April.
An extract from the Western Command orders, issued by Lieutenant General
Sir W Pitcairn Campbell, KCB, from headquarters at Chester, on the 10th
October, 1917, is enclosed by our correspondent. In the orders the
General Officer Commanding in Chief expresses his appreciation of the
services rendered by the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of
the detachment of the 318th Protection Company, Royal Defence Corps, in
connection with the fire and explosions at White Lund Factory, “and of
the assistance given by them in helping to control the fire, in
attending to the wounded munition workers, and for remaining at their
posts under most trying circumstances.” The services of the following
Lancaster men are especially recognised, in addition to a number of
other officers and men: CQMS Bell; Sergeants Howson, Wood, Wilson; Lance
Corporal Wilkinson; Privates Parker; Denwood; Tomlinson; Stirzaker;
Hurst; Ferguson and McCardle.
Accession Number: KO1005/03a
Sergeant Edmund Bell
served with the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, probably the 5th
Battalion, and it would appear he was with the 5th (Reserve) Battalion,
which in 1915 became the 2nd/5th Battalion of the King's Own Royal
Lancaster Regiment. Later he was transferred to the Royal Defence
Corps and it was whilst serving with them that he was sent to Number 13
National Filling Factory, the Munitions Works at White Lund, near
Morecambe, and he was present on 1st October when the factory was
destroyed by fire and explosions.
The 318th (Protection) Company of the Royal Defence Corps are recorded
as being present at the White Lund Works and Sergeant Bell, was their
Acting Company Quartermaster Sergeant. After the war was finished
he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, published in the London
Gazette on 22nd February 1919, his unit is shown as 349th (Protection)
Company, of the Royal Defence Corps. Sergeant Bell must have had
no overseas service and his only medal was the Meritorious Service
Medal. There is a photograph of Edmund Bell when he was serving
with the Lancaster Home Guard in the Second World War, wearing the
ribbon of the Meritorious Service Medal.
Sergeant Edmund Bell and Corporal Robert Bell, King's Own
Royal Lancaster Regiment, First
Photograph by J P Bamber of Blackpool.
Accession Number: KO1005/01
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