Late veteran to be recognised

Late veteran to be recognised

At its monthly meeting last Tuesday, the Town of Victoria Park approved the renaming of Hampshire Reserve to Alec Bell Park. Fittingly, the decision came on the eve of the 48th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, commemorated yesterday as Vietnam Veterans’ Day.

A report by the council said the application met the criteria outlined in the Town’s Commemorative Recognition Guidelines, including the fact that Private Bell was a longstanding member of the community, that letters of support had accompanied the nomination and that he was a nominee who had made a significant contribution through National Service.

The recommendation of the Town’s Culture and Local History Working Group said Private Bell’s contribution ” namely that he gave his life serving his country ” was in keeping with the naming of a park, especially Hampshire Reserve, on the corner of Berwick and Hampshire streets, which had been named purely based on its location.

For applicant and fellow National Service Scheme soldier Neville Browne, who went to school with Private Bell in Victoria Park, having his mate recognised formally in the Town was the culmination of lobbying over several years.

Mr Browne, who served as a National Service soldier in Papua New Guinea in 1967 as part of the Indonesian Conflict, said he shared the good news with Sgt Tom Bourke from Private Bell’s Seventh Battalion.

‘He said news of the park’s renaming was tremendous and that Alec was an outstanding soldier worthy of recognition,’ Mr Browne said.

Sgt Bourke praised Private Bell for his conduct in Vietnam, saying his efforts to help fellow wounded soldiers after being seriously injured by a rocket-propelled grenade was the bravest thing he saw during the conflict.

In April 2013, Mr Browne wrote to the Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal to appeal for posthumous bravery recognition for Private Bell and the matter has been referred to the Chief of Army.

Private Bell was one of three young national servicemen from Victoria Park who died in Vietnam.

A plaque recognising Private Bell, Lance Corporal Paul van Rijsewijk (3 RAR) and Private Christopher Roost (4 RAR) is now on a plaque at the Carlisle Memorial Hall thanks to the efforts of Mr Browne.