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Soldiers of the Regiment

Sergeant Edmund Bell and Corporal Robert Bell, First World War.

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.  See below for a letter he wrote to the local press in May 1919.

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 World War.
Photograph by J P Bamber of Blackpool.
Accession Number: KO1005/01

Sergeant Edmund Bell wrote a letter to the local press in May 1919:

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.
Yours etc.
Edmund Bell
Formerly Company Quarter Master Sergeant , 318 Protection Company, Royal Defence Corps
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


Family group including Private Robert Bell, number 4173, 1st/5th Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment and Ada Bell, sat at front next to mother.  Sergeant Edmund Bell appears seated on the right.
Accession Number: KO2626/04

Christmas Card from 1917, designed by Corporal Robert Bell, 1st/5th Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.  Prior to the First World War he had been a painter and decorator in Lancaster.
Accession Number: KO2626/02

A Bridge at Bruges, painted by candlelight during a quiet period in the Ypres Salient when Robert Bell was serving as No. 4173 Private R Bell, number 4173, B Company 5th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment in 1916
Accession Number: KO1966/01

Embroidered post card sent home by Private R Bell, number 4173, B Company 5th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.
Accession Number: KO1966/02


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