Bell, Captain John

No 68 (Australian) Sqn RFC

John Bell came from Melbourne, Victoria. He was born on 7 October 1885 and was educated at Geelong Grammar School; he was a Grazier when he joined the AIF as a Lieutenant with a Special Appointment as an Automobile Officer attached to Headquarters, 1st Light Horse Brigade, in Melbourne on 2 September 1914. He departed from Melbourne on HMAT A3 Orvetio on 24 October. After landing at Gallipoli he was temporarily promoted to Captain before being evacuated to Mudros due to illness in October, and then sent to England the next month. In March 1916 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps and posted to Netheravon for training. He served in No 67 (Australian) Sqn on the Palestine Front, and on 28 September 1916, in company with Lt Wackett and two British machines, bombed and photographed El Arish.

After service in Palestine, he was posted to No 68 (Australian) Sqn in the UK as a Flight Commander and flew DH 5 A9473 from England to Bazieux when the unit moved from England to France on 21 September 1917. In October he relinquished his commission in the RFC in order to transfer back to the AFC as a Lieutenant, and Temporary Captain.

On 21 November 1917 Capt Bell was flying DH 5 A9473 when he led a formation of six DH 5s in a special mission to attack German troops in Bourlon Wood during the Battle of Cambrai. He was hit in the chest by enemy machine gun fire but still managed to land his aeroplane at an advanced landing ground at Tincourt before being taken to a Casualty Clearing Station. He died of his wounds on 27 December, and was buried with a cross made from a four-bladed aeroplane propeller to mark his grave.

Capt J Bell is buried in Grave IV C 8 at Tincourt Cemetery, France.

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