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The Airmen's Stories - F/O J S Bell


John Swift Bell was born in April 1917 in Gainsborough, the son of Major Herbert Alfred Bell and Ethel Mary Bell of Lincoln. He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts (Cambridge) and was articled to Danby, Eptons and Griffiths in Lincoln.

At the age of 18 he joined 503 (Special Reserve) Squadron at Waddington early in 1935 and was commissioned in April.

It was decided to disband 503 on 1st November 1938 and absorb the personnel into 616 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force, then being formed at Doncaster as a bomber unit. The new squadron was transferred to Fighter Command on 15th December 1938.



Bell moved to 616 Squadron and was called to full-time service on 24th August 1939. Over Dunkirk on 1st June 1940 he destroyed a Me109 but was then himself shot down into the sea. He was picked up by the minesweeper HMS Halcyon and landed at Dover.

In mid-June Bell intercepted and damaged a He115, which jettisoned its bombs and fled. On 1st July he shared in damaging a He111 over Yorkshire.

On 30th August Bell was shot down in a head-on attack on Me109s over West Malling. His Spitfire, X4248, crashed and burned out and Bell was killed.

He was 23 and is buried in St Peter's Cemetery, Eastgate, Lincoln.







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