Every Name A Story Content

Bell, Annie, Munitions Worker, 1917
Pelton Fell War Memorial Dedication Leaflet 22nd July 1922 reads:-

In closing, grateful reference must be made to the women and girls of the district, who flocked to the Ammunition Works, Public Services, and in fact to whatever post had been left vacant by our fighting men. Many of these women and girls were unused to the long hours of work which were required of them, but they stuck to their work and gave their all in their determination to back up their men who were away.

Nothing finer in the history of the War has been told than the response of the women and girls of the British Empire, and in our countryside at any rate, their work and self-sacrifice must never be forgotten.

And of these, "one" gave indeed her all, and her memory will remain for all time with us, her name being amongst those inscribed upon our Cenotaph as having made the greatest sacrifice of all, in being killed at her post with as much bravery and heroism as they who died on the field of battle.

Annie Bell was born at 4, Stella Cottages, Pelton Fell, in February 1901, the second daughter of Robert H. and Annie B. Bell. Robert was a Coal Hewer born at South Shields. Sister Jane (3) had been born at South Shields.

In 1911 the family had moved to 13 High Howlett, Pelton Fell. Robert was a Wagonwayman Below ground at the local pit. Robert (1901), Thomas (1906) and John (1909) with Jane and Annie made up the family. Sarah born 12th October 1911 completed the Bell family.

In 1917 Annie was sent to Morecambe to work in a munitions factory. She picked up an industrial disease and was admitted to the cottage hospital and died a few days later.

The Morecambe Visitor and Heysham Chronicle 09/05/1917 reports:-


Inquest on Girl Munition Worker.

An inquest was held at the Council Chamber on Friday afternoon (May 4th 1917) touching on the death of Annie Bell, aged 18, employed at a factory and who died from an industrial disease accidentally contracted.

The Coroner explained that as the girl had died from an industrial disease an inquest was necessary. It was for the Jury to satisfy themselves that the proper regulations laid down had been complied with as far as possible. "He would like to add that this woman had given her life just as did the soldier on the battlefield, and she was deserving of every credit for doing everything she possibly could for her country".

The father of the girl give evidence, stating that his daughter was 18 years of age last birthday. There were five other children of the family. She was in a perfect state of health before coming to the factory.

Ruth Stonehouse, charge hand, said deceased had been working in her room about a fortnight. She was a good worker, observed the rules and regulations, and as far as witness could say did not eat sweets or chocolates while at work. She always wore her respirator when it was necessary.

The printed regulations as to taking proper care were always pointed out to the workers by the various foremen.

As far as witness knew deceased was quite aware of the regulations.

Elsie May Lilley, charge hand, said she had been at the factory about fourteen weeks, and was very friendly with deceased. She always found her an excellent worker, obedient, and an observer of the rules and regulations. The workers generally were observing the rules now much better than before. Deceased was working up to last week. Previous to that she had been in the paint shop. When she showed signs of illness, witness carried her to the rest room where she was given a tonic and laid down to rest. As she appeared to be better and not complaining, she was sent back to work by Dr. Fred Hogarth. She was admitted to the County Hospital on the 25th? April, 1917 when she showed signs of severe jaundice. The liver was in a fibrotic condition, being half size, while the kidneys were normal.

Cause of Death was "toxic jaundice"

Jury returned a verdict of Accidental Death.

The Chester-le-Street Chronicle 11/05/1917 reads:-

Bell - At Morecambe on the 2nd May, aged 18 years, Annie, the dearly beloved daughter of Mr and Mrs Robert Bell of Newfield.

Mr and Mrs Bell of Newfield wish to thank all friends and neighbours for sympathy shown to them in their recent sad bereavement.

Annie Bell was brought home and was buried at Pelton Churchyard in OD237. Her sister Jane died 7th March 1936 aged 38 years and was buried in the same grave as Annie.

Information supplied by Nancy Crampton.

In 1939 Robert and wife Annie with Robert and Sarah were living at 3 Mission Row Pelton Fell. Robert Senior continued to be a Wagonwayman.

Annie died 26th September 1949, Robert died 3rd September 1961 aged 87 years. Both are buried at Pelton Cemetery in G282.

Annie Bell is remembered as Mary Ann Bell at Pelton Fell on P27.01

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk