Military History

The Highest Honour #3 | Frederick Bell | Robert Beatham

By The Cove February 1, 2021

Lieutenant Frederick William Bell (1875-1954, 79yo)

BRAKPAN 16 May 1901

Frederick Bell was born in Perth on 03 April 1875, and was the first person born in Western Australia to receive the Victoria Cross. He was a volunteer who served in the Boer War, South Africa, between 1899-1902. Serving in the 6th West Australian Mounted Infantry, Australian Forces, the following selfless deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

At 26 years old, he saw a dismounted trooper retreating under heavy fire. He took the man behind him on his horse, but the weight was too much for the animal and it fell. He then ordered the trooper to save himself and remained behind to fire on the pursuing Boers until his comrade was out of danger.

Frederick later lived in parts of Africa and served in the British Army during the First World War, where he reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He retired in Britain, where he died and was buried in Cranford Cemetery, Bristol in 1954. His medals were purchased by the Western Australian Government and are displayed in the Western Australian Museum.




Private Robert Matthew Beatham (1894-1918, 24yo)

ROSIERE, France 09 August 1918

Robert, born in the United Kingdom in 1894 and later arriving in Australia as a teenager, served in the 8th Australian Infantry Battalion during the First World War. Enlisting in 1915 and subsequently fighting in France, he was wounded twice during his service.

Aged 24 years, Beatham’s battalion was thrown into a battle at Rosieres, east of Villers Bretennoux,  that proved very costly. When their advance was held up by machine gun fire, he and another man bombed the crews of four enemy machine-guns, killing 10 men and capturing 10 others. When the final objective was reached, Beatham, although wounded, again dashed forward attacking another machine-gun, but was riddled with bullets and was killed.

His citation praised his ‘most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice’.


Imagery and text sourced from the Australian War Memorial.










The Cove

The home of the Australian Profession of Arms.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

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