The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4733) Private Roderick James Bell, 50th Battalion, First World War

Place Europe: Belgium, Flanders, West-Vlaanderen, Messines
Accession Number PAFU2014/171.01
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 26 May 2014
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (4733) Private Roderick James Bell, 50th Battalion, First World War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

4733 Private Roderick James Bell, 50th Battalion
KIA 11 June 1917
Photograph: P09291.057

Story delivered 26 May 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Roderick James Bell.

Rod Bell was born in McLaren Vale, South Australia. He and his brothers were working on his father's land at the outbreak of war, and he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in October 1915 at the age of 21. He sailed for Egypt in March 1916 with the 13th reinforcements to the 10th Battalion. After two months' training and a transfer to the 50th Battalion he was sent to France to fight on the Western Front.

Bell was with his battalion for the battles around the French village of Pozières and Mouquet Farm, but spent some time in hospital with laryngitis towards the end of 1916. In 1917 he was with the 50th as they made an assault on the Belgian village of Messines. The first attack was stopped by German barbed wire and rifle fire, but the second operation succeeded in capturing the first objective.

On 11 June 1917 the battalion was working on consolidating its position. A number of parties were sent out in front of the lines to keep German snipers down. Bell was a member of a party under sergeants Pritchard and Shakes sent to reconnoitre no-man's land and search for German snipers. Bell had taken cover in a shell hole and was just looking over the edge when he was shot right through the head and killed instantly. Because the party was about 400 metres in front of their own line, Bell's body had to be left where he fell, and the rest of the party quietly made its own way back to the lines, each man for himself. Bell's body was never recovered, and he has no known grave.

Rod was one of two Bell sons lost in the war. His younger brother John died later the same year, also killed by an artillery shell.

Both Rod and John have their names listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, along with around 60,000 others from the First World War, and Rod Bell's photograph is displayed by the Pool of Reflection.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Roderick James Bell, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4733) Private Roderick James Bell, 50th Battalion, First World War (video)