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St Bees Dead of the First World War

Arms of King George V

Roll of Honour


Fred Bell


Royal Naval Reserve.

Lost at Sea off Ireland 1915, aged 26


From the 'Whitehaven News' 28 January 1915:

ST.BEES MAN LOST ON THE "VIKNOR"

Mr. and Mrs. S. Bell, Abbots Cottage, St. Bees, received a message from the Admiralty on Monday afternoon, conveying the sad news that their younger son, Fred, had been lost on the "Viknor". At the commencement of the war Mr. Bell's two sons, both engineers, applied for commissions in the Royal Navy. These were granted, Fred being appointed to the armed merchant vessel Viknor, and Ted to the armed liner "The Duke of Cornwall".

The Admiralty report on the loss of the Viknor, issued on Tuesday, was as follows: "The Secretary of the Admiralty regrets to announce that the armed merchant vessel H.M.S. Viknor, which has been missing for some days, must now be accepted as lost with all officers and men. The cause of her loss is uncertain, but as bodies and wreckage have been washed ashore on the north coast of Ireland, it is presumed that during the recent bad weather she either foundered or, being carried out of her course, struck a mine in the sea which the Germans are known to have laid there."

The 'Yorkshire Post` added that in regard to the Admiralty statement about the washing ashore of bodies and wreckage, it may be said that the body of a sailor wearing a Royal Mail Company's life belt was found at Rathlin Island off the north coast of Ireland on Friday evening. Two days previously at Portrush eight similar lifebelts were picked up, and on Sunday there were found four other bodies, one on Ballycastle beach, opposite Rathlin (three similar lifebelts being also washed up), and three near Larne further south. The "Viknor" was commissioned on December 12th last year at Portsmouth, and according to the current navy list carried 21 officers.

Much sympathy is expressed for Mr and Mrs. Bell and family in their sad bereavement. The deceased was 26 years of age, and had a promising career before him.