BELL, Robert Brown
(Service number 24325)
|First Rank||Corporal||Last Rank|
|Date||10 June 1888||Place of Birth||Timaru|
|Address at Enlistment||201 Cameron Street, Ashburton|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Marital Status||Married. One child|
|Next of Kin||Mrs R. B. BELL (wife), 812 George Street, Dunedin|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Expeditionary Force|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||17th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company|
|Date||23 September 1916|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
|Date||26 September 1969||Age||81 years|
|Place of Death||Auckland|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Purewa Crematorium, Auckland|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Robert Brown Bell was born on 10 June 1888 at Timaru, the eldest surviving son of Robert and Mary (née McPeake) Bell. Robert attended Mr McMeekin’s School before starting at Waimataitai when he was 6½ years old, and later transferring to Ashburton High School. Robert married Dorothy Alice Bradley on 20 May 1914 at Dunedin, and they had a daughter, Shirley Muriel, born on 1 March 1915 at Dunedin. On 5 April 1916, R. B. Bell was one of the non-commissioned officers in the 17th Reinforcements who left Timaru for Trentham. Robert Brown Bell was seriously wounded in the neck in February 1917 in France, and subsequently received a war pension. His brother John McPeake Bell was killed in action in 1918 in France. Another brother, Harold George, also served in World War I.
His father, Robert Brown, was born in Scotland, married in 1885 in Queensland, and came with his wife to Timaru in 1886. He was the manager of the “Timaru Herald” and the “Timaru Post”; in 1900 he purchased the “Ashuburton Mail” and the “Ashburton Guardian”; and later he was managing director of the “Lyttelton Times” Company. Mr Bell gained a world-wide reputation in journalism and newspaper management. He also took a keen interest in education and, after the death of his second son, John, in August 1918 at the Battle of Bapaume, he established memorial scholarships at Ashburton High School. In 1936 Robert Bell travelled abroad, mainly for his health. On 24 August 1937 he died in a London hospital and was buried in his native Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland. His sons, too, engaged in journalism and newspaper management, each making a name for himself. Sadly, Robert Brown Bell had to go to court over the distribution of his father’s very large estate. He was supported in the action by his surviving brothers and sister. Mrs Bell died on 2 September 1943 at Christchurch and was buried at the Timaru Cemetery with her infant children. Both Mr and Mrs Bell were survived by just three sons and one daughter of the nine children born to them.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [08 August 2020]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [08 August 2020]; School Admission record (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [08 August 2020]; Purewa Cremation record [08 August 2020]; Timaru Herald, 5 April 1916, Evening Post, 25 August 1937, Ashburton Guardian, 25 August 1937, 8 December 1938, 4 September 1943, Evening Star, 8 December 1938 (Papers Past) [03 & 09 August 2020]
No documents available.
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
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