A Collection of Medals to Second World War Casualties

Date of Auction: 18th July 2018

Sold for £550

Estimate: £400 - £500

Four: Lieutenant K. S. L. Bell, Fleet Air Arm, who was killed in action when, operating from H.M.S. Eagle, his Swordfish Torpedo Bomber was lost in a bombing raid on Maritza aerodrome, Rhodes, 4 September 1940

1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star, 1 clasp, Atlantic, Africa Star; War Medal 1939-45, with named Admiralty enclosure, in card box of issue, addressed to ‘Surg Capt. K. Digny Bell, R.N., Avenue Cottage, 19 The Avenue, Gosport, Hampshire’, extremely fine (4) £400-500


Kenelm Stewart Leith Bell was commissioned as a Naval Lieutenant on 16 March 1937, and served during the Second World War as a Lieutenant with No. 813 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, flying Fairey Swordfish Torpedo Bombers off the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Eagle. On the outbreak of the Second World War the Squadron saw service in the China Station with H.M.S. Eagle providing convoy protection and searches for enemy shipping in the Indian Ocean from Ceylon. In March 1940 she sailed to Singapore and, after a refit, the Mediterranean. At the start of September she was joined by H.M.S. Illustrious, and on 4 September 1940 attacked the Italian airfield at Maritza, Rhodes. The report of the operation from Eagle’s Commanding Officer states:
‘03:43 H.M.S.
Eagle in position 241 degrees, 12.5 miles from position ‘A’ with seven swordfish ranged... alterations in surface wind caused delays in flying off aircraft... aircraft arrived over target late 06:16. Measure of surprise lost as aircraft had to fly up the coast... enemy fighters made contact after all aircraft had bombed the target... attacked using 250lb and 500lb bombs. Target badly damaged.’

Four of the Squadron’s Swordfish were lost on the raid, being shot down by defending Fiat CR32 and CR42 fighters. Two further Swordfish came down out of fuel, one at Scarpanto, and the other over the sea. These losses were No. 813 Squadron’s (and H.M.S. Eagle’s) heaviest in any single mission of the War.

Bell was amongst those killed. He is commemorated on the Lee-on-Solent Memorial. His medals were sent to his father Surgeon Captain Kenelm Digby Bell, R.N.

Sold with a portrait photograph of the recipient.