Francis Howard Bell was born at Blackburn, Lancashire, on 30th September 1895. He was the son of Thomas Penrice Bell and his wife Elizabeth (nee Howard), who were married at St.James' C.of E. Church, Toxteth Park, in 1882. He was one of nine children, seven of whom survived into adulthood; Margaret and Elizabeth were twins born in 1883, Thomas Howard born 1890, John H born 1893, Stuart H born 1898, and Beatrice H born 1902.
 
His father was originally from Cumberland and was engaged as a commercial traveller in the rice and spice trade. In 1891 the family lived at 68 Stuart Road, before moving to Blackburn where John and Francis were born. The family home was at an eleven room house at 19 Norma Road, Waterloo, from 1901 onwards. 
 
Francis enlisted with The Duke of Connaught’s Own 168th (Overseas) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on the 12th January 1916 at Vancouver. He was working as a machinist at the time, was 5ft 5˝inches tall and had grey eyes and brown hair. His attestation papers can be seen at Library and Archives Canada
 
Reports on his death appeared in the Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury on the 30th January 1917 and in the Crosby Herald on the 27th January 1917. His photo appeared in the Daily Post report and is reproduced here with the kind permission of the Liverpool Daily Post & Echo.
 

KILLED IN FRANCE.

     Lance-Corporal Francis Howard Bell, third son of Mr. and Mrs. T.P. Bell, Waterloo, was killed in action on January 12. He was educated at the Merchant Taylors’ School, Great Crosby, and on leaving there was apprenticed to Messrs. J.C. Houghton and Co., fruit brokers, who released him from his engagement with them to go out to Canada. He joined the Canadian contingent in Vancouver, transferring twice to be drafted abroad more quickly. His captain writes: - “Lance Corporal Bell was killed in action on the evening of January 12 during a very heavy bombardment. Death came suddenly and without suffering. We buried him in the Military Cemetery of ---- , the grave being marked with a cross suitably inscribed. I have not been very long with the company, but quite long enough to appreciate the stirling qualities of your son, and know what a very real loss his death is to his regiment and his comrades, with whom he was a great favourite. His officers had the greatest confidence in him, and I was hoping to see him promoted shortly to higher rank. My sincerest sympathy to you and to all who mourn the loss of this brave and devoted young soldier. He has made the supreme sacrifice and courage, where such qualities are not rare.”

Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury 30th January 1917

WATERLOO SOLDIER'S DEATH.

LANCE-CORPORAL F.H. BELL.
     Many friends in this district will learn with great regret of the death in action of Lance-Corporal Francis Howard Bell. of the Canadians, who was killed on January 12th. Lance-Corpl. Bell was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bell, of Lyndhurst, Norma-road, and was 22 years of age. He was educated at the Merchant Taylors’ School, Great Crosby, and afterwards served as apprentice to Messrs. Houghton Bros., fruit brokers, of Liverpool. He wished, however, to take up farming, and the firm kindly released him from his apprenticeship. He went out to a friend in Canada, and when the war broke out he journeyed as soon as possible to Vancouver, where he joined the 158th Overseas Battalion (Duke of Connaught's Own), but learning they were not going out for some time he transferred to the 62nd battalion, and very soon came home. When Volunteers were called for the 47th Battalion he was one of the first to offer himself, and he went out to the front at once, fighting in Flanders, at Ypres, on the Somme, and at Vimy Ridge.
     He was killed during a heavy bombardment on January 12th, death being instantaneous, and was buried by the chaplain of the 42nd Canadians in the military cemetery at Villiers-oau-Dois, his grave being marked with a beautiful cross, suitably inscribed. In a letter home his Commanding Officer writes offering his sincere sympathy, and that of all ranks in the battalion. "Lance-Corpl. Bell," he says, "gave his life in the best and highest of all causes. His comrades knew him to be self-sacrificing and courageous even where these qualities were not rare."

Crosby Herald 27th January 1917

He is remembered on the family grave at St.Luke's C.of E. graveyard, Crosby.
 
The inscription on the gravestone reads:
 
 
In Loving Memory of
ELIZABETH HOWARD BELL,
DIED JUNE 4TH 1921
 
ALSO FRANCIS HOWARD,
dearly loved Son of above,
KILLED IN ACTION JAN. 12TH  1917.