Bell, Leslie Harrison
Son of James Harrison Bell, Superintendent of Poor Law Homes, and Laura Bell of The Home, Channon’s Hill, Fishponds.
Bell was born on 06/04/1898, and attended the School from 1910-1916. He served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the RAF, with the Royal Air Force 58th Sqdn. Bell sadly lost his life on 26/09/1918, as a result of the War.
He is buried in Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, France, grave reference V.E.28.
Leslie Harrison Bell entered BGS in 1910. He captained the BGS 1st XI in 1915 - 1916, and the Chronicle describes him as ‘A fine batsman who puts tremendous power behind his strokes’ and as ‘One of the best wicket keepers the School has ever had’. On leaving school he joined the 3rd Gloucesters and later transferred to the RAF; on 26 September 1918 his plane was hit while returning from a bombing raid. The plane crashed and both Bell and the pilot were killed. In his memory his mother gave the school his cricket bat. It was at first hung in the Pavilion, but subsequently it was awarded annually to the outstanding cricketer of the year. The board shows some of those awarded the Bell Bat, including Tom Graveney, recently President of the MCC, who played for the 1st XI in 1944. The rest of the board is lost; this portion was discovered recently under floorboards during building works. Clearly Bristol lost a very fine sportsman in L H Bell, and the bat reminds us how many people died in World War I.
Fives was played at BGS from 1911 – 1989, when it disappears from the Chronicle after an apparently successful season. It seems likely that it fell victim to two changes, fewer sports staff knew the game, and more sports such as fencing, bowls, golf and eventually badminton were gaining popularity. Those who played it enjoyed it and regret its loss.
The Chronicle Reports His Loss (December 1918)
"was so frequent a visitor to the School since leaving it two years ago that the news of his death came as a great shock. He had transferred from the Gloucesters to the R.A.F., and before going to fly in France did much useful work off the N.E. coast of England. On September 26th he was returning with his pilot from a bombing raid when his machine was hit and badly damaged, and in attempting a forced landing it crashed and killed both instantaneously. The School has seen few such all-round athletes. He won his colours for cricket, football, hockey, and fives, was captain of hockey 1916 and of cricket 1915 and 1916, with a batting average of 50. In 1915 he tied with M.T. Todd for the Sports Challenge Cup, which he might have won again in 1916 but for the repeated trouble with his shoulder. Numerous letters from the front attest how deeply his loss has been felt."