A Great War D.S.C. group of four to Surgeon Sub LieutenantG.P.Bell, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve,
Lot 145
A Great War D.S.C. group of four to Surgeon Sub Lieutenant G.P.Bell, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve,
Sold for £4,080 (US$ 6,667) inc. premium

Lot Details
A Great War D.S.C. group of four to Surgeon Sub Lieutenant G.P.Bell, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve,
Distinguished Sercice Cross, G.V.R., hallmarked 1914; 1914-15 Star (Surg. D.G.P.Bell. R.N.V.R.); British War and Victory Medal (Surg.S.Lt.D.G.P.Bell. R.N.V.R.). Good very fine. (4)

Footnotes

  • D.S.C. London Gazette 31.5.1916.

    Devoted great attention to the wounded, and amputated a limb single-handed in the dark.

    Served as Surgeon Probationer aboard H.M.S.Spitfire at Jutland, one of 13 D.S.C.'s for Jutland.

    "Douglas George Patrick Bell, Surgeon Probationer, RNVR, 'Spitfire', Fourth Flotilla, 'Devoted great attention to the wounded, and amputated a limb single-handed in the dark'."

    On the night of May 31st and June 1st 1916, the 'Spitfire' (Lt.Cmdr.C.W.Trelawny) second in line in the Fourth Flotilla, 'Tipperary' leading, came into action suddenly and unexpectedly with three German cruisers. The unfortunate 'Tipperary' bore the brunt of their fire and was soon reduced to a mass of burning wreckage.

    The 'Spitfire' and three other boats quickly turned and fired torpedoes and one from 'Spitfire' struck the 'Elbing' amidships which ceased firing the leading Dreadnoughts of the High Seas Fleet of First Battle Squadron: during the melee 'Spitfire' was rammed port bow to port bow by the battleship 'Nassau'.

    'As we bumped the enemy opened fire with their (11'') guns, though luckily they could not depress them to hit us, but the blast cleared everything before it. Our fore mast came tumbling down, our forward searchlight found its way from above the bridge down to the deck, and the foremost funnel was blown back like the hinged funnel of a river steamboat... But none of the shells hit us except for two which passed through the canvas screens round the bridge, where with the exception of the Captain (who suffered a head wound), the Coxswain and one seaman, everyone was killed. Eventually the 'Nassau' cleared us astern and disappeared, leaving us still afloat but drifting in a somewhat pitiful condition.

    Fortunately 'Spitfire' was able to make a westerly course at a speed of six knots and she limped into the Tyne on the afternoon of June 2nd.
    In 'The Fighting at Jutland' an eye-witness account of this action states, 'The doctor, a young surgeon-probationer did some fine work during this time... His chief success was amputating, single-handed and without any anaesthetic, an able-seaman's leg, who with the coxswain was found lying amongst the wreckage on the bridge. While he was performing this operation the fire -party was busy all round him with their fire hose. It was marvellous the way this young doctor moved about, eventually getting all the wounded into the ward-room and cabins, and he never left them or took any rest himself until we arrived in harbour 36 hours later'.

    Douglas George Patrick Bell was born at Fulforth Co.Durham on 24th December 1896, he was the son oof J.P.F.Bell, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was studying at Newcastle Medical School when WW1 broke out and he served in the Royal Navy from 1915 to 1919. Having won the D.S.C. in WW1 he resumed his medical studies after the war and graduated M.B., B.S., with honours, from Durham University in 1919. He was awarded the Charlton, Goyder, and Philipson scholarships, the latter as the undergraduate who obtained the highest marks at the final examination. Four years later he proceeded to the M.D. After graduation he held the appointments of house-surgeon and house-physician at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, and medical officer in the electro-therapy department of the Ministry of Pensions Hospital also at Newcastle. In 1922 he entered general practice at throckley, near Newburn-on-Tyne. After some years he decided to accept full-time service with the Ministry of Pensions, and after the Second World War he eventually became a deputy commissioner for medical services. In addition he was an excellent sportsman, and an accomplished shot. He was an esteemed member and regular attender of the Diners' Club in Newscastle. He died on 30th January 1959, aged 62.
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