Great Uncle Charles’ First World War

Charles Moore Bell was my great uncle.  He was born on the 15 Oct 1898 in 19 North Street, Addiewell, which meant he was the perfect age for the First World War.  All 5 foot and 1 inches of him served in the Salonika (today called Thessalonika) campaign in 1917, which you can read about here.

Basically, the Greek Prime Minister asked for British and French hep for the Serbs in their fight against Bulgarian aggression.  1917 saw a fair amount of fighting;

  • The First Battle of Doiran (22 April – 8 May)
  • The Capture of Ferdie and Essex Trenches (near Bairakli Jum’a) (15 May)
  • The Capture of Bairakli and Kumli (16 May)
  • The Capture of Homonodos (14 October)
  • The battle of Tumbitza Farm (17 November – 7 December)

His army record shows that he was there, and that he ended up with the bog standard British War Medal 1914-1918 and the Victory Medal.

The War medal was given to a member of the fighting forces had to leave his native shore in any part of the British Empire while on service. It did not matter whether he/she entered a theatre of war or not.   However, the Victory medal was awarded to all those who entered a theatre of war. It follows that every recipient of the Victory Medal also qualified for the British War Medal, but not the other way round.

It doesn’t say what regiment he served in, but the Salonika campaign seems to have featured the 1/1st Lothians and Border Horse and the Seaforth Highlanders.  The former seems more likely as they recruited locally, and on 11 May 1917, A and D Squadrons formed the XII Corps Cavalry Regiment in Salonika, where they remained until the end of the war.

So he survived that, came home, became a grocer and died 2 years later from TB, aged only 21.  So no happy ending there.

Charles Moore Bell WW1 record

World War I – Great Uncle Bill

Panel 11 at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), BelgiumSeeing as how we’ll be “commemorating” the First World War very soon, here’s a reminder from my family.

My Great Uncle Bill was born on 13 Jan 1891 in 29 Montgomery Street, Edinburgh (now knocked down and besmirched with new student flats) and he died on 12 Oct 1915 in Flanders (which would be my birthday half a century later). He was the eldest son in the family, although he had abandoned the family business, and by 1911 was an enlisted soldier. So, he’d have been first in line to be shipped out when war broke out. A shitty couple of years for the family, as his father had died the year before, 1914, aged 49.

This picture shows his name inscribed on the war memorial for the 11th Bn. Royal Scots. It’s on Panel 11 at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium.

Panel 11 at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium