09.09.1944 No. 19 Squadron Mustang IIIb FX887 P/O. Bell DFC
Operation: Armed Recce
Date: 09th September 1944 (Saturday)
Unit: No. 19 Squadron (122 Wing, 83 Group, 2nd TAF)
Type: Mustang IIIb
Code: Not known
Base: RAF B60, Grimbergen, Belgium
Location: South of Apeldoorn
Pilot: P/O. Maxwell Heron Bell DFC. AUS/405995 RAAF Age 21.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at around 12:45 hrs., 4 aircraft from the squadron left on this operation with P/O. Maxwell Bell flying as No. 3 in White Section.
During the attack 3 locomotives were shot up and badly damaged despite the intense light anti-aircraft fire.
At around 15:50 hrs during a strafing attack on a train south of Apeldoorn, the Mustang was hit by the anti-aircraft guns. Other members of the squadron heard him call on the radio that he was going to bale out - he was advised to head south towards a large wood, but none saw his parachute.
Some publications state that he was captured and then murdered by German troops, but we are unable to confirm or deny these claims. He was first reported as missing, listed on the Runnymede Memorial - his body has since been recovered it would seem, now he does have a grave.
DFC London Gazette - 17th November 1944: Warrant Officer Bell is an efficient and most resolute pilot. He has taken part in many harassing attacks on the enemy and has invariably displayed a high degree of gallantry. He has destroyed 4 enemy aircraft.
Also lost from the squadron on the same operation:
Mustang IIIb FB148 Flown by 22 year old, W/O. William Gibbs Abbott NZ/424401 RNZAF. Similar circumstances but buried at the Zutphen General Cemetery, grave 2115. Son of William Norman Abbott and of Vera Florence Abbott (nee Duthie) of Auckland City, New Zealand. Joined the squadron on the 05th August 1944
P/O. Maxwell Heron Bell DFC. Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery. Grave IX.A.12. Born at Toowoomba, Queensland on the 19th February 1923 the son of John George Kingsborough Bell and Evelyn Mary Bell, of Bowenville, Queensland, Australia. Enlisted on the 20th July 1941 in Brisbane, Australia. Prior to service employed as a tractor driver. Grave inscription reads: “Son Of George And Evelyn Of Bowenville Qld. Brother Of Patricia, John, Mary And Diana. RIP.”
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot. Also thanks to sources as quoted below as well as the National Archives of Australia and the New Zealand Auckland Cenotaph: