victoria_cross george cross




















b. 1872 Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales. d. 05/1950 Great Malvern, Worcestershire.


DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 17/05/1930 Prestea, Gold Coast (Ghana).


John Frederick Bell (1872-1950) was one of seven children of Thomas Bell, who originally came from Radstock, Somerset, and had moved to the Rhondda Valley in South Wales as a young man, where he met and married Ellen Rees. Thomas was employed at the Taff Vale Railway Company and later with the Great Western Railway. It is believed John was born in Cardiff in the latter part of 1872. Little is known about John’s early life and schooling.


John married Sarah Jane Treharne in Llanelly, Carmarthenshire in 1900, and they went on to have two daughters, Hilda (born in 1902) and Ellen (born in 1907). John was employed in the mining industry, and was Manager of the Ponthenry Anthracite Collieries and Wernddu Collieries, Neath. He then became employed by the HM Inland Revenue Valuation Department at Newport.


In the late 1920s, John left for the Gold Coast (now Ghana) in Africa, and became Underground Manager at the Ariston Gold Mine in Prestea. On 17th May 1930, several natives were involved in an accident. Bell went in search of these men, and was instrumental in saving them from being gassed. Two other men who went in search of Bell both died from the gas, as would Bell have done when he too fell unconscious, were it not for the fact that his mouth was next to a leak in a compressed air pipe.


Bell was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal of the Civil Division on 2nd December 1930, and soon afterwards, he returned to South Wales, and settled in Bridgend. In October 1941, John attended an investiture at Buckingham Palace to receive the George Cross, which following its creation the previous September, replaced the EGM. John and his family then settled in Great Malvern, Worcestershire. In April 1950, his wife Sarah died whilst visiting relatives in Wales, and was buried in Great Malvern Cemetery. Tragically, less than a month after losing his wife, John also passed away, and was buried with her, both services performed by the Reverend A B Drew.

John’s GC group was sold by Glendinning’s on 2nd March 1989 to a private buyer. In 2014, the GC again came up for auction, and was sold for £4,100, again to a private buyer.




PLOT 6W, GRAVE 6822.









John Frederick Bell EGM










bell j f gc bell j f medal

John Frederick Bell's George Cross on the Dix Noonan Webb auction website prior to its sale in 2014 for £4,100.

Great Malvern Cemetery

John Frederick Bell is buried in Section 6W next to the Cemetery Wall

“The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the Award of the Medal of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned: -


For Gallantry.

John Frederick Bell, Underground Manager, Ariston Gold Mine, Prestea, Gold Coast.


John Frederick Bell showed great gallantry on the occasion of an accident in the mine on the 17th May, 1930, when he was instrumental in saving the lives of a number of natives who would have otherwise been gassed.


The two men who afterwards went in search of him lost their lives by gas in the attempt, and Bell himself would probably have shared their fate had he not, when he became unconsious, fallen with his mouth next to a leak in a compressed air pipe.”

20th December 1930 -

Terry Hissey