honor role

Bell, Frederick William

**Victoria Cross, Colonel, 1st West Australian (Mounted Infantry) Contingent and 6th Contingent in South Africa. WW1 served with the Royal Irish Guards.

Born at Perth, 3 April 1875, CoE. Enlisted for the Boer War October 1899 age 24, cashier with WA Customs Office. Nok parents Henry and Alice Bell at Gamallie, Beach St, Cottesloe. Saw action at Slingersfontein, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Diamond Hill and Wittenbergen. He was seriously wounded 19 July 1900 and after a short term in England returned to Perth to join the 6th Contingent for the War in South Africa. In May 1901 at the Battle of Brakpan, he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the first Western Australian to be thus honoured. London Illustrated News of October 12th 1901, Pages 534 and 535. The 5th and 6th Western Australian Mounted Infantry were formed a month apart and fought together at Brakpan where five Australians were killed and five wounded. Those with Lieutenant Bell on 16 May 1901 were ambushed and during the retreat he gave his horse to a dismounted comrade and covered the retreat of this soldier later making his escape on foot. Two versions referred to the same source The London Gazette, October 4, 1901, p. 6481. In No. 5482 supplement to the London Gazette, August 20 1901 the citation reads: (version 1) ‘At Brakpan in East Transvaal on 16 May he returned under heavy fire for a dismounted man and took him up on his horse. His horse falling with the two, he remained covering the retirement of the man with his carbine until he saw him in safety’. (version 2): ‘At Brakpan on 16 May, 1901, when retiring through a heavy fire after holding the right flank, Lieutenant Bell noticed a man dismounted and returned and took him up behind him. The horse not being equal to the weight fell with them. Lieutenant Bell then remained behind and covered the man’s retirement till he was out of danger’ In 1914 he was an officer in the Royal Irish Guards in France in 1916 and from 1916-1919 he commandant of several recuperation camps in England, rising in rank from Lieutenant to temporary Lieut Colonel. Two brothers, Edgar and Bert enlisted in the AIF and were killed in action. After the war, Frederick returned to the British Colonial Office with service in British Somaliland, Northern Nigeria and the British East Africa Protectorate that became Kenya. In 1925 he was retired from the Colonial Office in controversial circumstances, having given sworn evidence to the Masai Committee of Inquiry, contrary to the orders of his superior. Frederick Bell returned to England and the details of his life between 1925 and his death in 1954 are sketchy. As a recipient of the Victoria Cross he was entitled to a small annuity and very likely a Colonial Office pension. His first wife, Mabel Skinner died at Hereford in 1944. They had no children. On February 20 1945, Frederick married Brenda Cracklow, a widow with adult sons and daughters and took up residence at Darklands Symonds Yat, Hereford. No children resulted from this marriage. In 1947 he and Brenda spent several months at Cottesloe with his sister Eva and, while in Perth, he was the guest of the State RSL a reception for Victoria Cross recipients. Frederick died on 28 April 1954 and is buried at Canford Cemetery, Bristol, England.’ Bell’s medals, without the miniatures, were purchased by the Western Australian Government and retained by the State Museum. These are: Victoria Cross; Queen’s South Africa Medal (clasps for Wittenbergen, Diamond Hill, Johannesburg, and Cape Colony); King’s South Africa Medal (clasps for South Africa 1901 and 1902); Africa General Service Medal (clasp for Somaliland 1908-10); 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal with Oak Leaf (Mention in Dispatches), Coronation Medals for Edward VII, George VI and Elizabeth II.