Sunday, 15 January 2017

Luton Doctor in Egypt

Bute Hospital ward 1913 [Z1306/75/5/3]

Monday 15th January 1917: News has reached us of Dr. Robert Daniels Bell, a respected Luton medical man. Before the war Dr. Bell had a practice in Dunstable Road, and also worked with the Bute Hospital, the Children’s Hospital, and the Luton Union House. For the past year he has been serving in Egypt the Royal Army Medical Corps. While home on leave Dr. Bell has told the Saturday Telegraph:
“I saw a lot of the Luton boys. They were among the pluckiest, the cheeriest, and the most determined out there, despite the fact that the lads I saw were probably wounded or invalided. Several of them recognised me, and they all asked me how Luton was getting on. They had been away a very long time. I am afraid the soldiers who get out to places like Egypt and Mesopotamia are not so much thought of as those nearer home. It is believed that they have an easy time of it, but in those tropical climates they have a lot to put up with. It is a hard existence in the desert, and I hope those at home will show as great kindnesses to our lads out there as to those elsewhere, for they deserve it.”
 Dr. Bell has decided to continue his work with the military, but does not yet know whether he will be sent back to Egypt or to France. On entering his second year of service he will receive promotion to the rank of Captain. He has also expressed his thanks to his colleagues in Luton who will continue to carry on his medical practice in his absence, although “very much overworked”.[1]

Source: Luton News 11th January 1917

[1] Dr. Bell entered medical practice at Dunstable Road in 1906/7. For his second term of service he was sent to France, where he was gassed  later in 1917. He was mentioned in dispatches and after the war was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and distinguished service in the field in March 1918. By the time he died in the 1930s the practice was based at Liverpool Road and was served by four doctors; in the late 1930s it moved to a purpose built surgery at 163 Dunstable Road. The surgery was renamed Bell House Medical Centre in 2002 in honour of Dr. Bell. [History of Bell House Medical Centre]

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