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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. H J Bell-Walker


Howard John Bell-Walker was born on 7th August 1920 in Birmingham and educated at Rynaby School, Banbury and Bloxham School.

He joined the RAFVR in April 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot and began training at 8 E&RFTS Woodley. He was called up in November 1939 and went to 7 EFTS Desford.

On 11th April 1940 he was posted to 10 FTS Ternhill on No. 19 Course. He was awarded his flying badge in June and the course ended on 24th July 1940.

Bell-Walker went to 5 OTU Aston Down on 3rd August, converted to Spitfires and joined 64 Squadron at Leconfield on the 19th. He moved to 72 Squadron at Croydon on 11th September.

On the 14th he baled out, unhurt, following a combat over Ashford. His Spitfire, K9960, crashed and burned out at Orlestone.

Four days later Bell-Walker was shot down in a surprise attack by Me109s during a squadron patrol over Gravesend. He was seriously wounded and in hospital for some time.

On 25th November 1940 Bell-Walker rejoined 64 Squadron at Kenley. In early 1941 he was posted to 602 Squadron at Prestwick and was commissioned in August.

On 12th August 1941 he took part in Circus 70, a Hampden escort to Gosnay power station, flying as number two to the CO, S/Ldr. AC Deere. The squadron was surprised by Me109s and Bell-Walker was shot down in Spitfire Vb AB844 before he could break away. He baled out, wounded, and was captured.

At some time Bell-Walker was held in Stalag Luft 3.

He stayed on in the RAF after the war, transferred into the Engineering Branch and was made an MBE (gazetted 30th April 1954).

Bell-Walker retired on 1st December 1967 as a Squadron Leader.

He later emigrated to Canada and died in Ottawa, Ontario on 2nd November 1999.


His older brother Robert Charles Bell-Walker was killed aged 31 on Sword Beach on D-Day, serving as a Lieutenant with the 1st Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment.

He lies in Hermanville War Cemetery.


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