Algernon Francis BELL
Service No. 3239, Private,
59th Battalion

Soldiers about to embark on HMAT NESTOR
Photo: WIKI Commons

Algernon Francis Bell

The son of William and Georgina Bell of Lakes Entrance, where he worked as a marine fireman, Algernon Francis Bell enlisted in the AIF on 21 July 1915—three months after his younger brother Thomas had been killed at Gallipoli.

On 11 October 1915, Private Bell embarked for overseas on HMAT Nestor, arriving in Egypt on 20 January 1916, where he was posted to the 7th Battalion. On 24 February he was transferred to the 59th Battalion and deployed with his new unit to France in June.

On 19 July 1916, the 59th became embroiled in its first major battle on the Western Front, at the battle of Fromelles. Private Bell was wounded in action, as attacking in the first wave, the 59th suffered heavy casualties at the hands of German machine-gunners.

With serious gunshot wounds to the right thigh and shoulder, he was transferred to the 13th General Hospital at Boulogne. A diary sent home with his personal effects has the chilling last entry: ‘7 o’clock at night. Big chance. Wounded in arm and leg. Going to try and crawl back to trenches tonight’. He died at hospital in Boulogne a few days later, on 24 July 1916.

Described by his father as ‘a very methodical boy’, he kept his diary to the last. His personal effects included a lock of hair. Algernon Bell is buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery. He was twenty-five years old.