Craft News

Wg Cdr John Richard Bell MBE, DFC, L’dH

Socrates Lodge No 373 is greatly saddened to announce that war hero, Wg Cdr John Bell, the last British wartime aircrew of No 617 Squadron (Dambusters) passed to the Grand Lodge above on 19th March 2024 just 6 days short his 101st birthday.

 24 04 29 Dambuster

 Joining the RAF in 1941 at 18yrs old, he was told that at 6ft 4in he was too tall to be a pilot. Undaunted he trained in several roles, including Navigator, Bomb Aimer and despite his height, eventually as a pilot - ‘just in case’ he was required! He was better as a bomb aimer which was his primary role throughout the war. Once operational he joined Lancaster 619 and then 617 squadrons, dropping the ‘Tallboy’ deep penetration bomb against submarine compounds with devasting effect and completing over fifty operational sorties.

After the war he had held various ground appointments around the world, including Officer Commanding Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC), RAF Brampton before retiring from the RAF in 1977. On retirement he became a champion for the Bomber Command Memorial and has featured on historical television documentaries.

Initiated into Socrates Lodge in October 1961, becoming WM in 1987 and appointed PPJGW in 1993. He was made an Honorary Member of Socrates Lodge in February 2022.

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