Bell MC, John Mercer Grimshaw

Bell, John Mercer Grimshaw (John)

Military Cross

Lieutenant

7th Squadron, Royal Air Force and Royal Field Artillery

Died of wounds on Friday 11 October 1918 (aged 27)

Buried:

Terlincthun British Cemetery, France (Grave V. D. 17)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Canadian Virtual War Memorial (CVWM)

Canadian First World War Book of Remembrance

Rockport School War Memorial

Helen’s Bay Parish Church of Ireland Church (St John Baptist)

Glencraig Parish Church of Ireland Church (Holy Trinity)

BIOGRAPHY

Although Lieutenant John Mercer Grimshaw Bell’s death is recorded in official records as 11 October 1918, and his death was reported in local newspapers during October 1918, his date of death is recorded as 11 November 1918 in Helen’s Bay Parish Church.

John Mercer Grimshaw Bell was born on 4 September 1891 in Belfast and he was the eldest son of Richard and Annie Stewart Bell (nee Grimshaw) who were married on 6 September 1890 in St James’s Church of Ireland Church Belfast.  Richard Bell from 23 Hughenden Terrace, Belfast was a son of John Bell, a merchant.  Annie Stewart Grimshaw from Cliftonville was a daughter of O’Donnell Grimshaw.

Richard Bell was a solicitor who had also served with the Army and he and Annie had two children before they moved to Canada:

John Mercer Grimshaw (born 4 September 1891 at 23 Hughenden Terrace, Belfast)

Howard Manley Stewart (born 5 September 1892 at 23 Hughenden Terrace, Belfast)

John Mercer Grimshaw Bell attended Rockport School Craigavad while the Bell family lived in the townland of Ballygrot and before they moved to Maple Cottage, Bellevue, Sooke (near Victoria), British Columbia, Canada.

In Canada John Bell worked as a Bank Clerk in the Canadian Bank of Commerce and on 24 September 1914 he enlisted at Valcartier, Quebec.

In his attestation papers it was noted that he was 6 feet 2 inches tall with a fair complexion, grey eyes and brown hair.

His Regimental Number was 40129 and he was appointed as a Gunner with the 1st Battery, 1st Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery.  He went to England in December 1914 and on 18 January 1915 he was discharged to a commission in the New Army.

John Mercer Grimshaw Bell was gazetted to the Royal Field Artillery with the rank of Second Lieutenant, he went to France and in July 1916 he was wounded near Montauban.  He was wounded again in August 1917.

Lieutenant John Mercer Grimshaw Bell was awarded the Military Cross ‘for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  When the enemy attacked and approached in view of the battery he brought his section into the open to engage the enemy, and himself took up an exposed situation and controlled and fought his guns with the greatest coolness and determination until his ammunition was exhausted’.

Lieutenant John Mercer Grimshaw Bell MC was 27 when he died on 11 October 1918 of wounds received on 3 October 1918.

The Chaplain of his Squadron wrote of him:

‘He possessed all those qualities of character and disposition
which are the foundation of true nobility. Everyone who knew
him was irresistibly attracted towards him.’

Lieutenant John Mercer Grimshaw Bell MC was buried in Terlincthun British Cemetery, France and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:

PRO REGE ET PATRIA

Lieutenant John Mercer Grimshaw Bell MC is commemorated in Rockport School; in Helen’s Bay Parish Church of Ireland Church (St John Baptist) and in Glencraig Parish Church of Ireland Church (Holy Trinity).