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Major Hubert Graham Bell MBE

The Corps of Royal Engineers
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Known as Known as Graham

Service No: 95075

18 Dec 1919 - 6 Sep 2012

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Remembered by: Rosemary Hodge

Date added: 9 Nov 2012

95075 Aged 92 Major Hubert Graham Bell, MBE, MA RE(rtd), CEng, MICE, FCIHT
18th December 1919 - 6th September 2012

Hubert Graham Bell died suddenly on 6th September 2012 in Chichester, West Sussex where he had lived since 1975.

He was born on 18th December 1919 and was educated at Bristol Grammar School. He was in the last batch to do the full eighteen months course at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, prior to World War II and was commissioned on 1st July 1939.

Regimental appointments in 61st Division in Northern Ireland and England included Adjutant and OC Field Park Company. In August 1943 he was posted to North Africa as a bridging instructor, moving with the training school later that year to Capua in Italy.

He joined 8th Indian Division as Adjutant RE during the battle of Cassino and served with the Division during the advance up Italy until January 1945 when he was promoted to major and posted to HQ 8th Army as GSO2(SD). He was awarded the MBE for his service in 1944.

After training at the Staff College, Haifa, and a year with the British Military Mission to Greece he went to St. John’s College, Cambridge, to take an honours degree in mechanical sciences, followed by a G2 staff job at HQ Southern Command.

In late 1951 he was posted to Malaya as OC Malayan Engineer Squadron then later as OC 78 Malayan Field Park Squadron. In 1954 the work of the Squadron mainly concerned the construction of airstrips at jungle forts for the Malayan Police, for which Major Bell was 'Mentioned in Dispatches'.

In between staff jobs in Wilton and Edinburgh he spent two years at the Military Engineering Experimental Establishment (MEXE), Christchurch, evaluating soil stabilisation equipment.

Major Bell retired from the Army on 1 July 1960 after twenty one years service. He joined Cementation Ltd working with teams stabilising the sub-base of 28 miles of motorway in Worcestershire that later formed part of the M5. For a short while during this period he was in charge of a soil stabilisation contract in Nigeria (the Ijebu Odi to Benin road) while the Agent was ill.

He left Cementation and formed his own company specialising is soil stabilisation. His contracts included stabilising the airstrip runway on the island of Mustique in the Caribbean.

In 1972 he formed Belmix Limited to design and make continuous mixing plants. During the following 25 years these plants were not only used extensively in U.K., particularly for mine infill work in the West Midlands, but also were exported to about twenty countries worldwide. Output of these plants varied from 20 to 300 cubic metres per hour. Three of the largest ones were used for constructing the runway sub-base of the new Hong Kong airport in the late 1990s.

In 1982, immediately at the end of the Falklands war he received a phone call from the Ministry of Defence :- “We urgently need two sets of stabilising equipment to repair the runway at Port Stanley, oh and by the way, please get them to Southampton Docks in ten days time.”

With great help from a local engineering firm he managed to do it, even though it involved designing and making spreaders for bagged cement, modifying two heavy duty rotovator and buying tractors that had been ordered by others. The amusing twist to this was that one of the earliest Belmix plants had been used to build the runway at Port Stanley in 1973.

He married Monica Shirley Mitchell on 11th July 1945 and they had four daughters and one son. In 1998, one of his daughters, Rosemary Hodge and his son, John Graham Bell, took over running the company with Graham Bell still working as a design consultant right up until his death. He always said that he was very fortunate in being able to still design machinery, using computer aided design software, despite his age.
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