James Bell joined Homeboarders’ house in 1901 and left the school at the age of 15 in December 1903. He was one of several brothers at the school. We do not know what happened to him immediately after leaving the school, but from 1907-1912 he worked as a clerk in the office of the Royal Exchange Assurance Co., an insurance company based in the City of London.
His father was Canon of Norwich, and it is perhaps his religious upbringing which led him to travel to Norfolk Island in the Western Pacific on behalf of the Melanesian Mission in August 1913. He returned home in 1915 and in 1916 he enlisted in the 22nd (Reserve) battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles. He went out with the 10th battalion to the western front in September 1916. He returned home in February 1917, having been recommended for a commission, but suffering with a frost-bitten hand which meant he remained in hospital until April.
He became a 5th Officer in the Cadet Corps between April and August 1917 before being promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers. In October he returned to the western front once more and was killed in action there.