The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R Bell
Ralph Bell was born in Newcastle in 1915 and joined the RAF as an Aircraft Apprentice in January 1931, passing out in December 1933. He later remustered as an Air Gunner.
He was serving with 219 Squadron at Catterick in June 1940.
On 2nd August 1940 he was in Blenheim L8962 which overshot the runway at RAF Leeming during a practice landing without flaps. The pilot, P/O WGM Lambie, deliberately raised the undercarriage to avoid running on to the Great North Road. Both men were unhurt.
Bell was still serving with 219 Squadron in November 1940.
His subsequent service is currently undocumented but he survived the war and died on 17th September 2005.
January 2024 - Chris Goss writes:
Fw. Hans Hahn of 1./NJG 1 in April 1941 took his score to eight. One of Fw. Hahn's claims was a notable one when at 2345hrs on 8th April 1941, he claimed a Wellington at Wellingore. This was a Beaufighter flown by F/Lt. Guy Gibson, who would later be awarded the VC leading 617 Squadron attacking the dams in May 1943, who was flying with 29 Squadron. Landing at Wellingore at 2348hrs returning from a patrol, he reported being attacked by a "bandit":
The ORB records:
"Flt Lt Gibson with Sgt Bell took off from WC.1 on patrol. The flight proved uneventful till they were about to land at WC.1 at 2348hrs when an enemy aircraft suddenly opened fire upon them from above and from the rear. The Beaufighter was unable to return fire and in fact the pilot never saw the enemy aircraft. The Beaufighter fortunately was not seriously damaged although its brakes were put out of order and upon landing ran through a hedge into a nearby field."
Sgt Ralph Bell, who was on loan from 219 Squadron for a week, was wounded in the leg.
The Beaufighter was R2250 RO-C ‘Admiral Foobang III’ and is shown below, Sgt. RH James (L) and Gibson (R) celebrate two night victories on 14th March 1941.