Alfred Napier BELL
B: 1st Apr 1918 D: 20th Jan 1944
Born: Port Darwin, Northern Territory, 1st April 1918
Died: Shaggy Ridge, Northern New Guinea, 20 January 1944, aged 25 years
The life story of Alfred Napier Bell is still being pieced together by the FRG History Team.
Alfred attended St Peters College in Adelaide from 1933 to 1935. Alfred’s housemaster was Lt Col John Holroyd Hill who served with distinction in the first world war. It is believed that Alfred took part in Cadet’s whilst at St Peters, and is shown in a newspaper photograph shooting at a rifle range (see the photo gallery in this profile).
If anyone has further information the FRG would gratefully publish it.
23/2/1940, Enlisted in the 2nd AIF at Wayville South Australia. Service Number SX1760. He was 21years 10 months of age and Single and his occupation was recorded as Jackeroo. His next of KIN was John Henry Bell Storekeeper Farina South Australia.
23/2/1940 to 19/4/1940, Trained at Woodside South Australia
21/3/1940 Posted to the 2/10 Infantry Battalion. The unit colour patch was Purple over Blue.
The 2/10 Battalion was known as the “Adelaide Rifles” was based on South Australian personal and was stepped in history being traced back to 1860. The 10th served in WW1. The 2/10 was the first South Australian Infantry battalion formed in WW2. The 2/10 with its sister battalions 2/9, 2/12 formed the 18th Brigade 2nd AIF. The 2/10 Battalion was formed on the 7th November 1939 at Woodside South Australia and in December 1939 moved initially to Greta NSW and later Ingleburn NSW for training.
19/4/1940, Alfred entrained in Adelaide for movement to the 2/10 battalion at Ingleburn to be taken on strength.
5/5/1940, The 18th Brigade embarked from Sydney on the SS Mauretania for the Middle East and was diverted via Cape Town to the United Kingdom as garrison troops in case of a German invasion following the fall of France.
18/6/1940 Disembarked at the Port of Gourock Scotland and entrained for England.
19/6/1940 – 14/11/1940 camped and trained in the Salisbury and Colchester area of England. During this time Alfred spent time in hospital with Mumps and Rubella.
17/11/1940 Sailed from Glasgow Scotland for Egypt via Cape Town.
31/12/1940 Disembarked in Egypt and commenced desert training.
3/4/1941 Embarked Alexandria for Tobruk.
3/4/1941 – 24/8/1941, 2/10 became part of the legionary “Rats of Tobruk’ and spent 4 ½ months in Tobruk.
24/8/1941 departed Tobruk for border garrison duties and training in Palestine and Syria.
18/12/1941 Alfred was appointed to Lance Corporal.
18/2/1942 departed Egypt for Australia.
27/3/1942 Arrived Adelaide.
19/4/1942 Entrained Adelaide for Tenterfield NSW and later Kilcoy QLD.
5/8/1942 Departed for Milne Bay New Guinea.
12/8/1942 Disembarked Milne Bay New Guinea.
27-28/8/1942 in action at KB mission Milne Bay New Guinea.
Milne Bay was the first time Japanese armed forces had been defeated on land operations. Actions at Milne Bay cost the 2/10 Battalion 69 casualties and many more with Malaria and Tropical disease.
24/9/1942 Alfred Bell promoted to Corporal.
5/10/1942 2/10 moved by air to Wanigela on the north coast of New Guinea.
21/12/1942 Emplaned Milne Bay to Townsville
It would seem that Alfred returned to Australia prior to the 2/10 Battalion’s Buna- Gona –Sanananda action from late December 1942 to late January 1943. In this action the 2/10 suffered over 300 casualties.
25/1/1943, Alfred is now back in Australia on leave and has been hospitalised at the 115 General Hospital Heidelberg Victoria with malaria and tropical disease’s.
19/2/1943 Transferred from 115 General Hospital to 101 General Hospital Northfield South Australia.
20/4/1943 Discharged from hospital to General Details Depot Wayville South Australia.
21/4/1943 Transferred to Land force with accordance with direction of movement order Q 02415 (26/11/1942).
26/4/1943 Attached to DAPTD NSW.
8/8/1943 Transferred from General Details Depot NSW to 1st Australian Personal Staging Camp NSW.
29/8/1943 Transferred from 1st Australian Personal Staging Camp NSW to 5th Army Recruiting Depot at Camp Cable QLD.
10/9/1943 13th Australian Personal Staging Camp Townsville QLD.
12/9/1943 Embarked Townsville for Port Moresby New Guinea.
17/9/1943 Taken on strength of New Guinea General Details Depot.
26/10/1943 Attended 18th Australian Infantry Brigade junior leaders’ (officers)course.
11/11/1943 Re-joined 2/10 Battalion at Port Moresby.
31/12/1943 Emplaned from Port Moresby for Dumpu in the Ramu Valley New Guinea
4-19/1/1944 The 2/10 moved to Shaggy Ridge – Finisterrre Range New Guinea, acclimatising and patrolling a very mountainous area with ridges, in some cases less than 5 meters wide.
2/10 Battalion was preparing for an attack on Cam’s Saddle, that joined to Faria Ridge, it was raining heavily , and the track was knee deep in mud. A Company was in the lead and Alfred Bell moved forward in the blinding rain to observe the enemy’s position. The approach was up a steep slope that was extremely slippery requiring the use of both hands and feet to make progress, as Alfred Bell moved further forward a shot rang out and Alfred Bell was killed.
(Purple and Blue the History of the 2/10 Battalion AIF ( Adelaide Rifles) 1939-1945 Frank Allchin page 346)
21/1/1944,First Buried on Faria Ridge.
28/3/1944, Re-intered Dumpu War Cemetery.
8/6/1944, Final resting place Lae War Cemetery Papua New Guinea Plot E, row D, grave 5.
Corporal Alfred Napier Bell was 25 years old and an original member of the 2/10 battalion, He served 1426 days in the 2nd Australian Imperial Forces.
Alfred Napier Bell is commemorated on Adelaide SA. WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Canberra ACT Roll of Honour panel 34
Farina SA War Memorial Wall
Quorn SA listed on Grandfathers grave
“Lest We forget”
Phillip Bradley author of “On Shaggy Ridge” replied to a question about the possible connection with Faria Ridge, Faria River, Faria Valley and the town of Farina South Australia.
The reply was, The Faria Ridge, River, and Valley was named as such on the Dumpu and Kumbarum map sheets that the 21st Brigade was using in October 1943. The 18th Brigade of which Alfred Bell was a member of the 2/10 Battalion did not arrive in the area until January 1944. The name of Faria was in use prior to Alfred Bells death.
Alfred Bell would have been eligible for the following campaign medals
Africa Star with Rats of Tobruk clasp
Australian Service Medal
In Alfred Bells service record shows what would seem to be a gap between the 26/4/1943 and 8/8/1943
In the notes on members from Farina in WW1 and WW2 it is mentioned in the Adelaide Advertiser Saturday 5th February 1944 that Alfred Bell volunteered for para troop training and had to withdraw due illness. The service record does not show any involvement with Para Troop training. Para Troop training at this stage was conducted at Tocumwal NSW by the Royal Australian Air Force and later moved to Richmond NSW.
Note. See 24/4/1943. Unable to find out what DAPTD stands for. Is it to do with Para Troop training?
( D……….Australian Para troop Training Depot)?
Also Alfred Bell may have had relapse of Malaria and was convalescing
The movement order Q 02415 dated 26/11/1942 may have been the reason Alfred returned to Australia for Para Troop training and treatment for Malaria and Tropical Disease.
2/10 Infantry Battalion AIF full strength was 700 personal and over the course of WW2 a total of 3,008 men served of whom 315 were killed or died on active service and 525 wounded.
Purple and Blue, the History of the 210 Battalion 2nd AIF ( The Adelaide Rifles) 1939-1945
National Archives of Australia (NAA) Alfred Napier Bell SX1760 Service Record
Australian War Memorial (AWM) 2/10 Battalion unit History (1939 -1945)
Wikipedia 2/10 Battalion Australia
Department of Veterans Affairs , Office of Australian War Graves
Books that have sections on the 2/10 Infantry Battalions active service.
On Shaggy Ridge New Guinea – Phillip Bradley
Hells Battlefield New Guinea – Phillip Bradley
Turning Point Milne Bay New Guinea- Michael Veitch
The Longest Siege Tobruk – Robert Lyman
Correspondence Phillip Bradley via publisher
No known ownership of land at Farina, however his parents John Henry Bell and Eva Annie Bell owned several blocks of land at Farina including those of their store, ‘Bells Store’.