Captain John BELL 

Service No: Not Assigned
Born: 7 October 1885, Australia
Enlisted in the Army: 2 September 1914
Unit: No. 2 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps
Died: Wounds from Air Operations, France, 27 December 1917, Aged 31 Years
Buried: Tincourt New British Cemetery, Tincourt, Picardie, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John and Annie Carstairs Bell, of Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Place of Association: Rokewood VIC
Remembered: Panel 188, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

The morning of November 20th was misty, as most others had been. Six machines in formation under Captain J. Bell took off soon after the hour of dawn, flew over the advancing tanks and infantry across the Hindenburg Line, and dropped bombs on the best obtainable targets. Selection of such targets was limited; the fog was so thick that low-flying in flight-formation was impossible, and machines, therefore, hunted in pairs instead. The bombs having been released, the pilots flew up and down roads and trenches and over batteries, emptying their machine-guns at every pocket of Germans. It was risky work, for the heavy fog meant that the flying had often to be done at only twenty or thirty feet off the ground; but the rewards were great. These attacks dismayed the German artillery, and McKenzie (1) drove the gunners in panic from one battery near Cambrai. Bell (2), who was flying in company with McKenzie, was shot through the chest by rifle-fire from the ground, and subsequently died in hospital.

(1) Lieutenant Robert William McKenzie MC; Born Adelaide SA, June 1895
(2) DH5 aircraft A9473

Extract from Cutlack, F.M. (Frederic Morley) The Australian Flying Corps in the Western and Eastern Theatres of War 1914-8, Angus and Robertson Ltd Sydney, 1941 – Page 184


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record B2455, BELL J
National Archives UK RAF Casualty Book AIR 1 /968 page 396, 19178


Bennett, J. (John William) Highest Traditions: the history of No. 2 Squadron RAAF, Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995

Book Now Book Now