BELL, Arnold Edward
(Service number 7/1958)

First Rank Sergeant Last Rank Trooper


Date 30 June 1881 Place of Birth Wellington

Enlistment Information

Date 15 October 1915 Age 34 years
Address at Enlistment St Andrews
Occupation Hairdresser
Previous Military Experience South African War
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin N. W. BELL (brother), Miramar, Wellington; Nurse HOOKE, Peterpan Inglis Street, Seatoun, Wellington
Religion Church of England
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 9th Reinforcements, Canterbury Mounted Rifles, C Squadron
Date 8 January 1916
Transport Maunganui
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Egyptian; Egyptian Expeditionary Force; Western European
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
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 22 October 1917 Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Hairdress; salesman


Date 21 March 1934 Age 52 years
Place of Death Coast Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Notices Sydney Morning Herald, 22 March 1934; Evening Post, 26 March 1934
Memorial or Cemetery Randwick Presbyterian Cemetery, New South Wales
Memorial Reference Section V, Grave 49
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Arnold Edward Bell was born on 30 June 1881 (not 26 March 1884 as given in his file) at Wellington, the sixth son of Norris and Mary Ann (née Bond) Bell. Norris, who served with the military, and Mary Ann married at Devonport, England, in 1869. Four children were born in the UK before they emigrated in about 1874. A further six children were born in New Zealand, making for a total of seven sons and three daughters. Their second daughter, Mary Ann Bell, died in 1883, and Mrs Mary Ann Bell in 1887. Norris married again in 1888, but he died suddenly two years later. For many years he had been the Instructor and Sergeant-Major of Volunteers in the Wellington District, a position for which he had been selected. He was accorded a military funeral. Young Arnold had lost both parents before the age of ten. He was educated at Newtown and Terrace Schools in Wellington. It was at Newtown School that he received a Standard 1A prize in 1889 and a Standard II Teacher’s prize for writing in 1890. Arnold Edward Bell, of Wellington, served in the South African War.

“Mr Arnold Bell has taken over the billiard saloon and the tobacconist and hairdressing business at St. Andrews, as from Tuesday last. The premises here been thoroughly renovated, and good stocks of the best brands of smokers’ requisites laid in. Patrons will find both branches carefully conducted. Mr Bell invites the public to call and inspect them.” [Timaru Herald. 26 June 1914.] Arnold had probably moved to Timaru from the West Coast by 1913. He featured in concerts in both districts. In November 1915, the transfer of the billiard licence held at St Andrews by A. E. Bell to J. V. Foxon, the owner of the premises, was approved by the Waimate County Council, Mr Bell having joined the reinforcements. He had been granted a renewal of his billiard licence six months earlier. A. E. Bell left Timaru to go into the training camp in October 1915. He was one of a large group who were given a very enthusiastic farewell when they assembled in the drill shed for afternoon tea. The Ven. Archdeacon Jacob said that they were going to answer the call of duty and to help the brave boys who had gone before them and who were doing such splendid work. They were going to fight for King and country, to fight in the cause of right. They marched to the railway station, with the 2nd South Canterbury Regimental Band playing some soul-stirring patriotic airs. “Brave lads,” said the Mayor in a voice broken with emotion, “. . .We are proud of you for the gallant way you have come forward to assist the Empire in its time of need, .. .You are going forward to fight . . . for truth, liberty and justice.”

Arnold Edward Bell enlisted on 15 October 1915 at Trentham. A self-employed hairdresser at St Andrews and single, he named his oldest brother as next-of-kin – N. W. Bell, Miramar, Wellington. He also named Nurse Hooke, Peterpan Inglis Street, Seatoun, Wellington. Presumably this was his sister Lucy who married Charles Hooke in 1895. Sergeant A. E. Bell embarked with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles of the 9th Reinforcements, leaving from Wellington for Suez, Egypt, per the “Mauganui” on 8 January 1916. Driver William James Watson, in a letter received by his mother at Timaru in September 1916, writes – “Who do you think I met at Boulogne? Arnold Bell from St. Andrews. A mule trod on his foot and put him out of action for a time.” Bell was in a contingent of invalided soldiers who arrived at a New Zealand port on 24 September 1917. Various intended addresses were given on his return, including Timaru.

Standing room was at a premium on the Timaru railway station on 26 September 1917 when the express from the north arrived bringing four more soldiers who had been invalided home from the battlefront. The men were met officially by the Deputy-Mayor and given a hearty welcome, on behalf of the people of Timaru and South Canterbury. “The returned men, as everyone knew, had done their duty nobly, and the people of New Zealand owed them a great debt — one which would never be forgotten by the people of the Dominion. They were all glad to see their fighting men come back to them, and all joined in wishing them a quick return to health, and ability to take up their former avocations.” One of the four who returned was Gunner Bell.

At a farewell social held on 12 October 1917 for the Timaru section of the 35th Reinforcements, Gunner Arnold Bell, a returned solder, gave a clever character sketch. A few days later he was to perform at a concert in the theatre Royal, in connection with the Returned Soldiers’ Memorial Building. But “Gunner Arnold Bell, whose name appears on the programme of the S.C.R.S.A. “Memorial Building”' concert to-night in the Theatre Royal, will be unable to attend on account of his presence being essential at St. Andrews for a presentation function which cannot be postponed. Miss Shaw regrets the loss of his item (a character sketch) which has taken much time in preparation. Gunner Bel also regrets the inadvertent circumstances, but hopes to contribute at a subsequent function for the same cause.” By February 1918, Arnold was appearing on the entertainment scene in Auckland.

“A very pleasant social was tendered to Trooper R. Catherwood and Gunner A. E. Bell at St. Andrews on Friday night [October 1917]. The first named soldier was down on final leave, and the second has just returned from the war. The president of the St. Andrews Patriotic Society (Mr D. Callaghan), opened the proceedings, and said how pleased he was to see such a good attendance. They were there to do honour to two of their soldiers, one a returned hero, the other on the verge of sailing for France. They were pleased to see Gunner Bell back again, and hoped that he would not suffer any permanent ills through his service at the front. To him they extended their heartiest welcome home. Trooper Catherwood they wished the best of good luck, and hoped that he would come safely through, and be spared to return to New Zealand. (Applause.) The soldiers were each presented with a handsome wristlet watch. Messrs J. Fraser, Blank, Dellow and Gordon also spoke in high terms of the two soldiers, who suitably replied, Gunner Bell saying that he had to sincerely thank them for the very warm welcome extended to him, and for their valuable present. He would always endeavour to retain their present as a memory of the very pleasant times he had had in St. Andrews, and of the people who had given him the watch. He had only done what was his duty to his King and his country. (Applause.) . . . . .” [Timaru Herald. 22 October 1917]

By 1919 Arnold had moved to Auckland. He married Jean Orr Finlay in 1919. Two children were born to them. Arnold had also fathered a child in 1914. He continued in his hairdressing profession, adding massage to his expertise. Was it during the war that he acquired this latter skill?


The art of the hairdresser in relation to the toilet requirements of his fellows is well illustrated in the service of Mr Arnold E. Bell, whose establishment in France Street, just off Karangahape Road and beside the King’s Theatre, is popularly patronised by business people and residents on the Newton and Ponsonby side of the city. Mr. Bell brings to his work a long experience in hairdressing and in the tobacco retail trade, and his up-to-date saloon, fitted with the latest continental facilities for prompt and efficient attention to patrons, fully deserves widespread appreciation. Haircutting (including for ladies), shaving and massage, come within the daily routine, and in the last-mentioned, it may be stated that Mr. Bell is an adept as the result of practical training gained in France. He was one of the first to use the high frequency method in Auckland. In addition to paying scrupulous care to the sterilisation of razors and brushes before and after each usage, Mr. Bell has an exclusive antiseptic shaving cream, the secret for the preparation of which he acquired abroad from a noted physician. This formula, which produces a perfect skin emollient, makes a generous and non-drying lather, and after a shave the skin is free and fresh. The reason is that this exclusive cream, which is much in demand amongst men who prefer to shave at home, is free from acids and other chemicals common to most shaving soaps or mixtures. A visit to Bells in France Street will amply convince anyone that the proprietor conducts his saloon on scientific lines. In other words, his business is not only a business, but a hobby.” [Auckland Star. 23 March 1923.]

Sometime after this glowing article, Arnold, Jean and their children moved to Australia. There (“late of New Zealand”), at the Coast Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, on 21 March 1934, Arnold Edward Bell died suddenly, aged 52 years. He was buried at Randwick Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Jean, daughter Thelma and son Colin, as recorded in the Sydney Morning Herald. A notice was published in the Evening Post also – “sixth son of the late Sergt.-Major Bell, Wellington, and brother of Mrs C. Hooke, Seatoun.” Two nephews of Arnold also served in World War One – Norris Charles Bell (son of his eldest brother Norris) and Frederick George Bell (son of his brother Charles Thomas Bell).


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [27 January 2023]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs); NZ Times, 19 December 1889, 20 December 1890, Evening Post, 22 July 1890 [x 2], Timaru Herald, 26 June 1914, 14 October 1915, 29 September 1916, 27 September 1917, 13, 18, 19, 22 October 1917, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 24 November 1915, Sun, 25 September 1917, Auckland Star, 25 February 1918, 23 March 1923, Evening Post, 26 March 1934 (Papers Past) [06 April 2016; 27, 28 & 31 January 2023]; NZ & Australian Electoral Rolls ( [28 January 2023]; Randwick Cemetery record ( [28 January 2023]; Sydney Morning Herald, 22 March 1934 (Trove) [28 January 2023]

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