Former Northampton school headteacher and RAF war hero dies aged 95
A former Northampton primary school headteacher who served as a Flight Lieutenant for the RAF in the Second World War has died, aged 95.
John Bell, who lived in Northampton all his life, worked at Rawlings Horton and Co hardware shop in Bridge Street in the 1930s and joined the air force in September 1939.
His son-in-law, Paul Codey, said Mr Bell flew several types of aircraft, his favourite being the Halifax, which he flew in the main for Coastal Command.
He flew many missions over the dangerous Bay of Biscay area and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Croix de Guerre, military decoration form France. When he was demobilised from the air force in 1946 he held the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
He married his wife Audrey in 1942 and until last year they both lived in Watersmeet, Northampton, their first and only home. After leaving the RAF, Mr Bell trained as a teacher but continued his links with the Air Force, through the Northampton Air Training Corp.
He first taught at the Headlands Primary School in Northampton, where he later became deputy headteacher, and in 1958 he was appointed headmaster at Brixworth School.
In 1961, he moved from Brixworth to become the headmaster at Barry Road Primary School and stayed in this post until his retirement in 1984.
While at Headlands Primary School, Mr Bell volunteered to help run the Northampton Air Training Corp and he became a training officer lecturing on navigation and being responsible for the cadets’ air experience and their flight training.
He retired from the Air Training Corp in 1976, having already been awarded the Air Cadet Force Medal and Bar for 20 years’ service.
In the 1970s, Mr Bell took up oil painting and produced several paintings each year, usually entering the annual exhibition of local artists in Abington Park Museum.
He was recently awarded a medal by the Russian Federation for his part in the protection of the convoys supplying Russia during the Second World War.
Last year, Mr Bell and his wife reluctantly moved from Northampton to be nearer their daughter, Rose, and spent the last period of their lives in Retford, where they remained together until a few weeks ago when Audrey sadly passed away.
Mr Codey said: “He lost his zest for life, having suffered such a deep loss after 74 years in a very happy marriage, they will both be sadly missed.”