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Bell, R., M.M. 1939-45 (2001)
Durham Advertiser 25/08/2001 reports the funeral of Private Robert Bell, MM., who would have had a pauper’s funeral were it not for the kind regard in which he was held.

Private Bell, who served with the Scots Guards, was awarded the Military Medal by King George VI for a single-handed act of bravery while fighting the Germans in Vincigliata Castle, Florence on August 27, 1944. “The Bren gunner and sniper was part of a patrol that came under heavy fire from the castle. Pte. Bell left his cover and, according to the citation, showed the most magnificent and complete disregard of his personal safety. He ran towards the castle and fired into the windows and slits in the wall. He silenced at least one German automatic weapon and then gave covering fire as the patrol withdrew.”

He died penniless, with no family, in a residential home in West Pelton. It looked as if he would be cremated and his ashes scattered in a garden of remembrance. But people thought that a hero should have a proper funeral, and donations from the public and the Cathedral Funeral Services in Durham meant that he had a funeral at which Royal British Legion, the Durham Light Infantry Association branches, Army Cadets and the Scots Guards were all represented.

His medal, which would otherwise have been sold, stayed on show at the residential home.

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk