BELL, Robert Brown
(Service number 24325)

First Rank Corporal Last Rank


Date 10 June 1888 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date Age
Address at Enlistment 201 Cameron Street, Ashburton
Occupation Newspaper manager
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Married. One child
Next of Kin Mrs R. B. BELL (wife), 812 George Street, Dunedin
Religion Agnostic
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 17th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion, C Company
Date 23 September 1916
Transport Pakeha
Embarked From Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Service Medals
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations



Date 26 September 1969 Age 81 years
Place of Death Auckland
Memorial or Cemetery Purewa Crematorium, Auckland
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

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]

External Links

Related Documents

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

Not assigned.

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