Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (18 & 19 July 2018)

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Date of Auction: 18th & 19th July 2018

Sold for £2,400

Estimate: £1,800 - £2,200

The good Second War North-West Europe operations D.S.O., pre-war M.B.E. group of eight awarded to Colonel J. Bell, Royal Engineers, who undertook much hazardous mine clearance work

Distinguished Service Order, G.VI.R., silver-gilt and enamel, the reverse of suspension bar officially dated ‘1946’, with integral top riband bar, in its Garrard, London, case of issue; The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, M.B.E. (Military) Member’s 2nd type breast badge, silver, in its Royal Mint case of issue; 1939-1945 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, with M.I.D. oak leaf; Coronation 1953; Efficiency Decoration, G.VI.R., 1st issue, silver and silver-gilt, reverse officially dated '1945', with two Additional Award Bars, E.II.R., both officially dated '1953', with top 'Territorial' riband bar; together with a set of related miniature dress medals, the two top riband bars both pierced for sewing onto riband, generally good very fine and better (8) £1800-2200

Footnote

D.S.O. London Gazette 24 January 1946:
‘In recognition of gallant and distinguished services in North West Europe.’

The Recommendation, dated 1 July 1945, states: ‘In the South Beveland campaign Major Bell landed in the assault wave and organised the engineer work off the beaches and the clearance of mines. It was his men's first appearance in action as well as his own and he led them cooly and steadied them through the first difficult days.
The mines were particularly troublesome in this campaign, being sown broadcast and with untried troops, casualties from them were severe at first but he encouraged his men in their dangerous task by his own example, and his coolness and foresight kept the casualties to a minimum.
In clearing the Roer pocket, he again was in support of the Infantry Brigade opening the assault, and it was due to his determination that a crossing was in fact made for the armour over the tank obstacle covering Stein though the thaw conditions prevented its exploitation.
He supported his Brigade in the assault on Alpon, where he took his sappers and his bulldozer into the town when the armour was itself held up by fire. He cleared a way through working and encouraging his men under heavy fire. In the crossing of the Rhine, his company was under command of 4 GHQ Transport Engineers and took part in the assault crossing. In the attack on Bremen he was in support of the leading Brigade all the way from Verdun, into the city itself, remaining in the van when the Infantry Brigades relieved each other. Once more he led and encouraged his men as they cleared the road forward under heavy fire and faced new dangers from an unknown and remote controlled aerial bomb used as demolition charge, which destroyed one of the Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers under his command.
Throughout the campaign Major Bell has been continually under fire and has led his troops superbly through many difficult and dangerous phases, inspiring them by his own personal example of coolness and contempt for danger. He has ably supported the Brigade he was with on every occasion and no call has ever been made on his sappers in vain.’

M.B.E. London Gazette 9 June 1938.


James Bell was educated at Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow and was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the 52nd (Lowland) Divisional Engineers, Royal Engineers (Territorial Army) in December 1929. It was in the same capacity that he was awarded his M.B.E. in June 1938.

He subsequently served as C.O. of 554 Field Company, R.E. in the 52nd (Lowland) Division in the North-West Europe operations, including the South Beveland campaign, the assault on Alpon, the crossing of the Rhine, and the assault on Bremen. For his services during the Second World War he was awarded the D.S.O. and Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette 9 August 1945).

Bell was advanced to Lieutenant-Colonel in May 1947, given the Brevet of Colonel in May 1950 and appointed Honorary Colonel of 124 (Lowland) Field Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers (Territorial Army) in December 1950. He was also awarded the Efficiency Decoration (London Gazette 12 April 1945), and two Additional Award Bars (both London Gazette 31 March 1953). He retired in October 1958.

Sold with an Heraldic Map, showing the Training and Active Service of the 52nd (L) Division during the Campaign in North West Europe 1939-1945; a Second Army Thanksgiving Service booklet, on the Conclusion of the Campaign in North West Europe; a portrait photograph of the recipient; a photograph of the recipient inspecting a Guard of Honour in Scotland; and the following original Documents, all of which are mounted in glazed display frames:
- Commission appointing James Bell a Second Lieutenant in the Territorial Army, dated 27 December 1929
- Bestowal Document for the D.S.O., named to Major James Bell, M.B.E., T.D., and dated 24 January 1946
- Bestowal Document for the M.B.E., named to Captain James Bell, and dated 9 June 1938
- Bestowal Document for the Coronation Medal 1953, named to Colonel James Bell, D.S.O., M.B.E., T.D.
- The recipient's Mentioned in Despatches Certificate, dated 9 August 1945.