Tag Archives: Bell

Private (acting Sergeant?) Thomas Bell was injured in a car accident on 12th January 1916 and died the next day. His funeral was on 17th January 1916, Arthur Linfoot’s 26th birthday.

17 January 1916; Monday

On parade in the morning. Funeral of Sergeant Bell in the afternoon. Firing party, band and full procession. Had walk at night with Black. Met his girl and her sister and talked a bit. Walked up the road a bit and talked over marriage and girls generally.

Sgt. Bell’s funeral.

My 26th Birthday. Received cakes from home and <money> from Charlie.

Newcastle Daily Journal 15 January 1916

Newspaper Clipping
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. Click or tap to enlarge.

Image and text via the British Newspaper Archive.

MOTOR AMBULANCE VAN FATALITY

Inquest on a Soldier at Alnwick

Mr Charles Percy held an inquiry at Alnwick yesterday, into the circumstances attending the death of Thomas Bell (32), a private on the motor transport of the Army Service Corps, though holding the local rank of sergeant while stationed at Alnwick. His death was the result of injuries received while driving a motor van in the direction of Alnwick, on Wednesday night.

Colonel P. Broome Giles, C.B., commandant of the convalescent camp at Alnwick, stated that the deceased had taken charge of the car1 entirely at his own initiative, and without orders.

Ernest Ball, a private in the motor transport of the Army Service Corps at Alnwick, stated that just before ten o’clock on Wednesday night he got an order to drive the motor ambulance car2 to Titlington with Mr G. Sordy and his wife, who had been attending the military concert in the Y.M.C.A. hut at the encampment. They got to Titlington, a distance of about ten miles, just after eleven o’clock. A gale of wind was blowing. They stayed at Titlington about half an hour, during which time he had one and a half glasses of whisky, and the deceased had two ordinary glasses of whisky. The deceased took the wheel of the car on the return to Alnwick. Continue reading Newcastle Daily Journal 15 January 1916


  1. Interestingly, “car” is used here in the same way as ALL himself often used it, to mean a generic motorised transport. 

  2. Here, “car” is qualified as “motor ambulance car”. Evidently “ambulance” on its own was not yet generally understood to mean a motorised patient transport. 

13 January 1916; Thursday

Up at 7 o’clock. Told off for station fatigue. Had good morning. Lecture in the afternoon. Bell died about noon. Went to the great invitation social at Clayport. Great spread, cold turkey, duck, ham, trifle etcetera. Played a few games, but generally rather slow. Two sketches, one bad and one good. Left at 11.30. Spent very good evening. I had to respond to the toast to “Our guests”.

Bell died. Clayport Social. Last day in Sergeants’ Mess.

12 January 1916; Wednesday

Up at 7 o’clock. Paraded but was not told off for any work. Got books up to date. Lecture in the afternoon. Concert at night in the Y.M. Presentation to Mr Porrit (who has got a stripe† up) by the colonel. The present was a silver tea service. N.C.Os paraded before adjutant and lectured. After the concert Sergeant Bell1 drove some of the artists home2 and on the return journey had an accident3 with the car and injured himself fatally. Fractured both thighs, jaw bone and skull. Ball4 was with him and was badly shaken and slightly lacerated.

Concert, Presentation, Accident.


  1. Private Thomas Bell M2/149214 probably held acting rank as a Sergeant, possibly due to his duties as a motor mechanic. 

  2. This journey was from Alnwick (A) to Titlington (B), according to contemporary reports. See also Alnwick map

  3. The vehicle, apparently a motor ambulance, left the road near the entrance to Reigham Quarry (C). The accident and subsequent inquest are recorded in the Newcastle Daily Journal on 14th and 15th January 1916. The latter report suggests that alcohol may have been a decisive factor leading to the accident. 

  4. “Ball” was Private Ernest Ball (it is not clear which of the many Ernest Balls listed at Lives of the First World War he may have been), who subsequently gave evidence at the inquest into Bell’s death according to the same piece in the Newcastle Daily Journal