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BELL, William Maxwell (1873-1951)

BELL, William Maxwell (1873-1951)

'Billy' Bell was born on 7 February 1873 in Toorak. He was the son of Robert Lewis Bell and Robina nee Carstairs, and brother to John Grenville Bell (1875-1946) who was also educated at Geelong College.

William was admitted as a boarder at Geelong College on 9 April 1888 from Scotch College where he had been the previous two years. He was a talented sportsman like his brother, and was a member of the College 1st Football Team in 1888, 1889, 1890 and 1891 and the 1st Cricket XI in 1889, 1890,and 1891.

He also won the following academic prizes:
1888, 1st, Arithmetic, 4th Class.
1889, 2nd, Arithmetic, University Class.
1890, 2nd, Arithmetic, University Class.
1890, 1st, Algebra, University Class.

After leaving College at the end of 1891 he studied at the University of Melbourne attending Ormond College. He studied several years of Medicine until 1892, and married Jessie Caroline Anderson, daughter of Andrew George and Elizabeth Mary Anderson, in 1906. They were living at Meekri, Camperdown, and had three children, all born in Camperdown, Rosemary Robina Bell in 1907, Elizabeth Maxwell Bell in 1909, and David Carstairs Bell on 1 October 1912.

During World War I, 'Billy' enlisted as a Gunner in the 21st Australian Field Artillery Reinforcements on 1 February, 1916. He was promoted 2nd Lieutenant in September, just before sailing on 25 October 1916 to England on HMAT A38 Ulysses, serving with the 12 Field Artillery Brigade in France in June 1917, he was promoted Lieutenant in August. Wounded in France, he took leave to England from 21 September 1917 until 5 October. On his return to France he transferred to 47 Battery. He was demobilised in England on 25 December 1918, having been on home duties for some time there, and invalided home on HMT Runic. He was appointed Honorary Lieutenant on the Reserve of Officers on his return.

He lost two cousins at the Great War, the sons of John and Annie Carstairs Bell, of Geelong - Captain J Bell, and 2nd Lt G R Bell.

His son, David Carstairs Bell, OGC, enlisted (No. VX40134) as a gunner in the 2/3rd Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment during World War II. His grandson, Andrew David Bell, served in South Vietnam with 7 Battalion RAR in 1970-1971.

'Billy' Bell died on 11 February 1951 at Camperdown.

Sources: 'Geelong Collegians at the Great War' compiled by J Affleck p137 (citing The University of Melbourne: Record of Active Service of Teachers, Graduates, Undergraduates, Officers and Servants (1926); Pegasus; National Archives, Bell Family).
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