Frederick Bell

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Frederick William Bell
Frederick Bell VC.jpg
Born (1875-04-03)3 April 1875
Perth, Western Australia
Died 28 April 1954(1954-04-28) (aged 79)
Bristol, England
Buried at Canford Cemetery, Bristol, England
Allegiance Australia
United Kingdom
Service/branch Australian Military Forces
British Army
Years of service 1899–1902
Rank Lieutenant Colonel

Second Boer War

First World War

Awards Victoria Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (2)

Frederick William Bell, VC (3 April 1875 – 28 April 1954) was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life and career[edit]

Bell was born on 3 April 1875 in Perth, Western Australia, and was the first person born in Western Australia to receive the Victoria Cross.[1]

He was 26 years old, and a lieutenant in the West Australian Mounted Infantry during the Second Boer War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 16 May 1901 at Brakpan, Transvaal, South Africa, when retiring through a heavy fire after holding the right flank, Lieutenant Bell noticed a man dismounted and returned and took him up behind him. The horse not being equal to the weight fell with them, Lieutenant Bell then remained behind and covered the man's retirement till he was out of danger.[2]

Following the end of the war, he went to the United Kingdom and received the decoration from the Prince of Wales during a large coronation parade of colonial troops in London on 1 July 1902.[3]

Bell died on 28 April 1954, and was buried in Canford Cemetery, Bristol, England.

The Frederick Bell ward at the former Repatriation General Hospital, Hollywood was named in his honour.


For many years the Queens and Kings South Africa medal pair awarded to Fred Bell were missing from his group. He had apparently sold these to raise beer money on a night out in Bristol in 1914. The two missing medals eventually turned up in the mid-1980s in Ormskirk, Lancashire. These were bought by Alan Thomas (Medals of England) and via auction were reunited with the VC, which was then with the family in Perth. The Western Australian Government bought the medals in 1984 from a stepson living in Canada. They are on loan to the Australian War Memorial and on display in Canberra until June 2019.[4]


  1. ^ ""We are the Tenth Light Horse".". Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954). Perth, WA: National Library of Australia. 17 December 1939. p. 31. Retrieved 26 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "No. 27362". The London Gazette. 4 October 1901. p. 6481. 
  3. ^ "The Prince and the Colonial Contingents". The Times (36809). London. 2 July 1902. p. 12. 
  4. ^ "Rare Boer War Victoria Cross medal group goes on display at Australian War Memorial". Australian War Memorial. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Chamberlain, M., "The Action at Brakpan", Sabretache: The Journal and Proceedings of the Military Historical Society of Australia, Vol.45, No.4, (September 2004), pp. 41–46.

External links[edit]