Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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BELL, John Grenville (1875-1946)

BELL, Dr John Grenville DSO (1875-1946)

'Jack' Bell was born at Mount Mercer, Ballarat, on 25 January 1875, the son of Robert Lewis Bell and Robina Carstairs, the eighth of nine children. His address at enrolment was Fernshaw, Western Beach, Geelong.

His father, Robert Lewis Bell, was killed by lightning when returning by buggy to his home at Leslie Manor, near Camperdown, with his wife sitting beside him.

'Jack' Bell was enrolled at Geelong College on 9 April 1888 by Mrs Robert Bell at Geelong College, then due to his father’s death, he travelled to England, where he studied at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 1899 MB ChB, and went on to Liverpool University where he graduated DPh. At the time of his enrolment at Geelong College his address was listed as 'Fernshaw', Western Beach, Geelong. At College he was a member of both the 1st Football XVIII and the 1st Cricket XI for four years from 1889-1892.
It is likely that he was the J Bell who won the following awards:
1889, 1st, Writing, 4th Class.
1891, 2nd, Algebra, University Class.
1891, 2nd, French, University Class.
1891, 1st, Geography, University Class.
1891, 1st, History, University Class.
1891, 2nd, Euclid, University Class.

He served in the Anglo-Boer War, his ribbons showing service in Transvaal, Cape Colony and Orange Free State, and travelled to England to enlist in the Royal Army Medical Corps as an Army Surgeon in 1903. While serving on the North-West Frontier in India he married at Lahore Cathedral on 15 January 1909, Dorothy Lemon Blaker, the daughter of Horace Campbell Blaker, and granddaughter of Mark Lemon, the first editor of Punch, and a friend of Charles Dickens. They had two children, Robert John Lawaluk Bell, born on 21 January 1911, and Nancy Bell, born on 21 April 1919.

'Jack' Bell served in the Great War in England, on Gallipoli, and in France, being promoted a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order in January 1916. He had been awarded his majority in October 1914, became a Lieutenant Colonel (Temp) in June 1915, and a Brevet Lieutenant Colonel in January, 1919. He was Mentioned in Despatches three times during the Great War, and also awarded the Italian Medal (King Vittorio Emmannuelle III).

He returned to England at the end of the war, and lived for many years at Tunbridge Wells, holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (Retired).

John Bell died in 1946.

His brother, William Maxwell Bell (1873-1951), was enrolled at Geelong College on the same day as John.

Sources: 'Geelong Collegians at the Great War' compiled by J Affleck p133 (citing Pegasus; Record of Service: The University of Edinburgh 1914-1919; Bell Family).
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