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John Thomas Rae BELL

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Sergeant 11/703 27 Apr 1882 31 Aug 1914 5 Dec 1916 4

Warrant Officer John Thomas Rae Bell (1880 - 1944)


John Thomas Rae Bell was born in Queensland on 27 April 1880, eldest child of Alexander Bell (1863 – 1926) and Phoebe née Baldock (1849 – 1910).

Little is known of John Bell’s childhood and youth. His parents’ marriage had been conducted by the Rev. J. F. McSwaine (minister at Creek Street Presbyterian Church, Brisbane) in a Leichhardt Street residence in 1879.  After John’s birth in 1880, four sisters (Edith, Florence, Maud and Ethel) followed, then a brother, Stanley, in 1888.  Florence died in infancy.  It appears John’s young father left the family soon afterwards, marrying again in Townsville.  By 1909, Mrs Bell was living in Toowoomba where her three daughters and Stanley were all employed.  Mrs Phoebe Bell died at Gowrie Street, Toowoomba in 1910.

John Thomas Rae Bell had moved to New Zealand where he married Alice Alberta Stoner in the year 1905.  Their children were Alice Phoebe Florence, born in New Zealand in 1906, William Rae, born in Queensland in 1907 and Norman Stanley born in New Zealand in 1911.

Enlistment and service

At the age of 34 years, John enlisted for service in the New Zealand Army on 31 August 1914 at Waverley.  He was given regimental number 11/703 with rank of Staff Quartermaster Sergeant in Wellington Mounted Rifles, Waverley Regiment.  His wife, Mrs Alice Bell of Waverley, Taranaki was next-of-kin.  Left with the care of her young family, she was then living in Wellington in the care of Mrs W. Stoner, probably her mother.

John Bell served in Egypt, France and Belgium but became ill and was admitted to the 2nd London General Hospital in July 1916 and later transferred to Grey Towers Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch but did not recover.  He was invalided to New Zealand per SS Remuera and discharged from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 5 December 1916, being no longer fit for war service on account of illness contracted while on active service.

John Bell remained an employee of the Defence Department and served as a drill instructor, having been promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer Class II.  He and his family lived at 119 Molesworth Street, New Plymouth.  He died at the age of 64 years on 6 December 1944. He is buried at Te Henui Cemetery.


• New Zealand Army World War 1 Nominal Rolls 1914 – 1918
• Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Queensland
• Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages, New Zealand
• Ancestry on line
• Bardon, Richard, The Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland, Smith & Paterson, Brisbane, 1949
The Queenslander, 21 June 1879
Brisbane Courier, 4 June 1879, page 6
• Australian Electoral Rolls, 1905 – 1925
• New Zealand Electoral Rolls, 1919 - 1946

Prepared by Noel E Adsett, Brisbane, April 2018 ©



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