Duncan Cenotaph

As part of our project to document the names on Duncan’s Cenotaph in Charles Hoey Park on Canada Avenue, here is what we know about William Bell, who died, aged 18, possibly on 30 October 1917 near Ypres, Belgium:

“Pte. William Bell

There is widespread sympathy with Mr. and Mrs. D.W. Bell, Duncan, in the loss they have sustained by the death in action of their younger son, Pte. William Bell. Their first information of this was the receipt on Tuesday of a letter from his commanding officer stating that “he was a good soldier and one we could ill afford to lose.”

Pte. Bell was 18 years old last March. He joined the 231st Bn., C.E.F. in Vancouver in August, 1916, and went overseas in March 1917. He had not long left Duncan school, where he was captain of the Cowichan Valley Cadet Corps. From England some six months ago he was drafted to reinforce a Vancouver Highland battalion at the front. He had served two months in the trenches when, owing to his age, he was selected to act as brigade runner. He had just delivered an important message to a battalion when a shell burst nearby, killing him. He was a fine, upstanding fellow, big for his age, and the memory of his gallant end will always live among his friends in Duncan.

His elder brother, Lce-Cpl. J.B. Bell, was hit by shrapnel last spring and, while in a dazed condition, was taken prisoner. By a strange coincidence a letter from him arrived last Tuesday in which he said that he was well and had just received a large accumulation of Red Cross parcels and letters sent to him. He is at Heilsburg, Germany.”

(source: Cowichan Leader, 20 November 1917, from Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives collections)

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Information

We will do more research on William Bell through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to confirm that the information below is for the W. Bell listed on the Duncan Cenotaph.

W. Bell; Rank: Private; Service Number:  1015753; Age: not given;  Date of Death: 30 October 1917; Canadian Infantry, 72nd Battalion; No Known Grave, commemorated on Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ypres, Belgium

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