Monday, September 1, 2014

The Bell Brothers - Ngaruawahia memorial, Waikato - revisited



John Edward Bell and Alexander Law Bell where the sons of Edward and Mary Bell of Ngaruawahia. John was a bushman and Alexander a drover before enlisting, they embarked together on 17 April 1915 from Wellington with the field artillery as part of the 4th Reinforcements. 

Both served during the Gallipoli Campaign where Alexander was struck down with Diphtheria: after several weeks of treatment in the Middle East he was sent back to New Zealand at the end September 1915. Shortly after his departure his brother John was wounded on 4 October 1915 he recovered and after Gallipoli went on to France with the rest of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.   Back in New Zealand Alexander enlisted again in May 1917 and embarked for the second time with the 32nd Reinforcements, New Zealand Field Artillery (NZFA) on 21 November 1917. 

Sadly before Alexander was able to be reunited with his brother at the Front John was killed in action in Belgium on 17 June 1917, he was 27 years old and is buried at Strand Military Cemetery, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium.  The death of his brother would no doubt have been on Alexander's mind as he arrived at the Front.  Just over a year later Alexander himself died of his wounds on 9 August 1918 in France.  His age at death is recorded as 21 years on his CWGC (Commonwealth Grave Commission) entry.  I checked to see when Alexander's birth was registered which it was in 1897, if this was the year he was born it would have meant he was only 17/18 years old when he enlisted. Alexander is buried at Couin New British Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France.

The story of two brothers enlisting together and not returning is sadly not a unique one on the: Ngaruawahia memorial alone there are five sets of brothers recorded who gave their lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment