William Herbert Bell
This story and photos are shared by the Trust with kind permission from Mavis Bell, daughter of William Bell.
I am Mavis Bell. I am writing this about my father Pte W H Bell 14348116. He was known as Herbie and the war memorial in Whickham reads H Bell.
He was born on 1st September 1913 to William and Elizabeth Bell in a beautiful peaceful place, Simonburn in Northumberland. His father was gardener for Commander Ridley at Park End the cousin of Viscount Ridley, who I was lucky to meet on a visit with the Normandy Veterans Association to York Minster.
He did have a little sister, Phyllis, but she died when she was 2 years old. They were looked after by Elizabeth's younger brother, Norman, as William was fighting in France and Elizabeth was making ammunition at Vickers Armstrong in Newcastle.
Herbie spent most of his young days in Burnopfield, his mother owning the general dealers. He became a carpenter and was an artist in his spare time.
He did his training with the Loyals at Carlisle Castle. Going by his records it was in North Africa that he joined the Hampshires, A Company, 1st Battalion then went to Sicily and Italy, then Gold Beach, Normandy. I have just recently discovered he was in the sea until August and he washed up at Ver sur Mer not far from the wonderful Memorial.
Sorry not more to tell you. I was 3 years old, and sadly do not remember. Today is D Day 6th June and I am very sad, thinking of what might have been.
British Normandy Memorial: Additional Information
Herbie's date of death was initially recorded in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission graves registration documents as being on 6 August 1944 which reflects the fact that his body was discovered in August after being washed up on the Normandy beaches. His date of death was corrected to record his actual date of death of 6th June 1944.
He was initially buried in Ver sur Mer before being reinterred in the Bayeux British Cemetery on the 28 November 1944.
WILLIAM HERBERT BELL
Army • PRIVATE
DIED 06 June 1944
SERVICE NO. 14348116