University of Oxford
19 files

WW2 for the Bell family

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 19:00 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

The story begins with information shared with me some time after my father had a stroke early 1990s. A photo I had never seen as well as documents and photos I had seen were shown to me by my father.

The story started with a 1937 photo of my grandfather Mark my father Sam aged 14 and his brother Robert. My father told me his mum had died 1932 of TB and his father brought 5 of the 8 children up with some help from his oldest daughters while working as a pit sinker travelling the coal mines of Northumberland and Durham.

Dad's brother Thomas, who took the photo, was killed in 1941 when HMS Kelly was sunk in the Battle of Crete. Dad said the Germans shot Tom while he was in the water trying to escape.

Dad's brother Robert was killed while searching for shrapnel in 1942. Dad's Father Mark died 1943 aged 57.

Dad lied about his age and joined the Royal Marines in 1942 aged 16. He told me of a letter from a Dutch family that had helped him and some friends while fighting in Holland and that he had received a letter and some cake from one of these friends called Alf after the war.

After the war Mark junior and Sam returned to Gateshead and the coal mines.


Item list and details

1. A letter to Mark Bell senior from Louis Mountbatten telling of the death of his son Thomas 2. A letter translated from Dutch to Sam from a family that helped him while fighting in Holland 3. A newspaper clip telling of the death of son Robert 4. Mark's death card 5. A letter from a Royal Marine friend of Sams 6. Several photos of the Bell family in uniform and one family photo in Gateshead

Person the story/items relate to

Mark Bell senior, Thomas William Bell, Mark Bell junior, Robert Bell and my father Samuel Bell

Person who shared the story/items

Steve Bell

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

Sam was my father

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID