Monday, November 12, 2007

The Story of Alfred James Bell

Alfred was the older of two Quorn brothers. He enlisted in October 1916 about 14 months after his younger brother Richard.

Richard would serve out the war, even winning a Military Medal near Ypres for digging out men as they were buried by shell explosions during a barrage.

Alfred was subject to the normal medical and dental examinations during October and was attached to the 8th Reinforcements of 50 Battalion as a private. He then embarked from Adelaide in December on the HMAT “Berrima”. The records show he disembarked at Plymouth in mid February. About three weeks later Alfred marched into the 15th Training Battalion at Hurdcott on the Salisbury plains about 5.5km to the north east of Salisbury itself.

After nearly 4 months of training Alfred traveled from South Hampton to le Havre on board the “Private”. He arrived in France on 26 June 1917 and was officially taken on strength of 50 Battalion shortly afterwards. Alfred’s time in Europe was not to be long. Exactly two months to the day after arrival in France, Alfred suffered bad face wounds from a bomb. Alfred was transferred to the Second Australian Casualty Clearing Station. Alfred died later that same day at the casualty clearing station before he could be transferred to a rear hospital.

The Trois Arbres Steenwerck Cemetery near Armientiers was used by the casualty clearing station from July 1916 to April 1918 and it contains the remains of 1704 Commonwealth servicemen, including 435 who are unidentified. Alfred is one of the 1269 identified casualties buried there.

A small parcel of Alfred’s private possessions was returned via the HMAT “Barambah” in 1918 and returned to his father as indicated in Alfred’s will. During the period from 1921 to 1923 Alfred’s father William received Alfred’s British War Medal, Victory Medal and Memorial Plaque.
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