Christopher (‘Christy’) Bell was born 16 May 1898 and was 16 when war broke out, and so he would have been of military age from 1916. He was probably motivated to join up by the example of his father and older brother, by the adventurous spirit of youth, and also by pay. He is pictured in a cavalry tunic with the ‘Harp and Crown’ tunic badge used by Irish regiments.[i] Family tales have him joining the 8th (Royal Irish) Hussars, possibly also the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, and serving in India. It is interesting to note that Jack is also pictured in an Irish cavalry uniform (though not the Hussars). So Christy may have joined the same regiment as his brother.
The main war tale about Christy is that after Jack died, his sisters begged him not to return to the army (presumably he was home on leave at some point). With their mother also dead and their father dying they were no doubt anxious not to lose anymore kin. Whatever the reason, Christy deserted. His family burned his uniform and hid him when the police or military came searching for him. The fact that there is no trace of him on the medal rolls supports the tale that he deserted, as any soldier who was in uniform during WWI received a medal. However he may have subsequently re-enlisted to avoid the search parties. There will hopefully be changes and additions to this thin outline of his career as more information comes to light.
[i] There is also the tale told to the Sullivan family by Christy of having to groom the horses for inspection, which confirms the cavalry role. As noted elsewhere, the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers and 8th (King’s Royal Irish) Hussars wore ‘Harp & Crown’ badges on their service tunics (see the 1911 Dress regulations in Harris, Irish Regiments). This supports the story Christy was in the 8th Hussars.