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Auction: 18002 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 458

A good Second World War and Korean War group of four awarded to Corporal I. E. Bell, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, who was taken P.O.W. in the 7th Argylls’ epic action at Franleu on the Somme in June 1940, prior to seeing further action with the Dukes on the ‘Hook’ in Korea

1939-45 Star; War Medal 1939-45; Korea 1950-53 (4274541 Cpl. I. E. Bell, D.W.R.); U.N. Korea 1950-54, mounted as worn, good very fine (4)

Ivan Eric Bell was born at Acomb, Hexham, Northumberland on 12 December 1920. A keen footballer - he played for the Acomb Welfare Football Club – he was called-up in 1939 and joined the 7th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. This was a Machine Gun Battalion and one of its detachments, including Bell, was seconded to the 7th Battalion, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.

As part of 153 Brigade, 51st Highland Division, the Battalion went into action against the Germans just south of the River Somme but it was pushed back to the village of Franleu on 5 June 1940. Here, over the next 48 hours, the Argylls fought an epic battle against far superior numbers, relevant sources confirming how ‘a machine-gun section [Bell’s] from the Northumberland Fusiliers were particularly successful’. At length, however, mounting casualties – and shortage of ammunition - led to inevitable capitulation. By the close of battle on 7 June, the Argylls had suffered losses of 23 officers and 500 other ranks killed or wounded. Owing to the lack of medical facilities, little could be done for the wounded – among them Bell – but the padre, Rev. D. MacInnes, did noble work in the cellar at Battalion H.Q., which had been converted into a regimental aid post. For full details of this epic action, see:

Bell was transported by cattle truck and eventually ended up at Lamsdorf Camp in Poland. It was a difficult time for his parents, Mr. and Mrs. William Bell of 11 Orchard Avenue, Acomb, for they had been told he was ‘Missing’ and it was a further five months before they received a letter to confirm that he was safe - ‘Although wounded, I am in a prison camp and progressing favourably’. Following his liberation, he was released to the Army Reserve in August 1945.

Among those unfortunate Second World War veterans to be recalled on the advent of hostilities in Korea, Bell served in the 1st Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and was present at the famous battle of the Hook.

He died in Northumberland in 1978, aged 57; sold with copied research, including local newspaper reports

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