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BELL, Robert Lewis (1891-1973)

BELL, Robert Lewis (1891-1973)

'Rex' Bell was born on 20 September 1891, the son of Robert Carstairs Bell and Margaret Hester nee Russell of Mooramong, Skipton, and nephew of John Grenville Bell and William Maxwell Bell who were also educated at Geelong College.

He was educated at Geelong College commencing in 1907 and then Melbourne Grammar School, where he served in the School Cadets. His enrolment address was listed as A M L & F 13 Leadenhall St, London. Prior to World War I, he was a station manager.

He enlisted (No 1003) as a Private on 20 September 1914 in the AIF 8th Light Horse (6th Reinforcement Group) and embarked on HMAT A66 Uganda on 21 June 1915 for Egypt, arriving on Gallipoli on 17 September 1915. He suffered an attack of pneumonia on 25 September, and was evacuated by HS Guildford Castle to 15 AGH, Alexandria, and then by HS Letitia to 2nd London General Hospital. He returned to Alexandria on 5 March 1916, and took part in the operations of the Anzac Mounted Division in the campaigns in Egypt, Sinai, Palestine and Syria.

Sgt L W Sutherland afterwards remembered the Charge of Bir El Abd:

'A Cavalry Brigade attacked Bir El Abd, attacked at the gallop over soft desert sand. There was a sight! Four lines, crescent shaped and over four miles long going hell for leather. I am a movie fan, and like 'Westerns'. But when I hear the people getting all hot and bothered when the mob of cowboys are galloping to the rescue, I cannot help thinking, 'Yes that looks he-mannish and all that kind of thing, but you never saw the Charge at Bir El Abd.'

'Rex' Bell returned to Australia on HS Malta, embarking on 3 July 1919.

He became a grazier and died in 1973.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck pp136-7 (citing Pegasus; National Archives).
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