"Dunedin-born Bell gave his occupation as artist when he enlisted in 1915. In Europe, the 20-year-old rifleman impressed as a sniper and with his forays towards the enemy lines.
But his legacy survives in his ink and watercolour drawings from the front which convey a feeling for the conflict from a soldier's perspective.
Bell was a serving soldier and his images reflect the experience of the rank-and-file.
Christmas Greetings from Somewhere in France, 1916-1917 shows snow falling on a soldier in a shelled landscape, Grave in Silhouette from 1918 has a dark cross beside a mound of earth and the frustration of a footslogger is evident in a drawing showing a private with a heavy pack having words with a soldier enjoying a cigarette.
[Soldier 1]: "Wot, goin' to the trenches?"
[Soldier 2]: "No y'fool, I'm goin' fishin'!"
A coloured postcard dated 1917 depicts a New Zealander in his distinctive lemon-squeezer hat, resting on a milestone engraved with the phrase "France to New Zealand, 13,000 miles." Smoke from his cigarette in a cloud above his head frames the word 'Aotearoa'. It speaks of homesickness and perhaps loneliness.
Bell returned to NZ in 1919 and secured a grant to further his career. He returned to London but ill-health dogged his ambitions. He died, in 1920, of rheumatic fever, and is buried in the City of London Cemetery."
Extract from NZ Herald, "100 Stories" by Andrew Stone, 12th March 2015.
Text in italics supplied by Cenotaph Online, Auckland War Memorial Museum