15 October 1939 to 28 August 1979
My Dad Richard, called Dicky by his family, was better known in
the army as 'Dick' or 'Dinger Bell'. Born in Bolton he was the
sixth son of Thomas and Agnes Parden-Bell. He left school on 22
December 1954 and followed in his father's footsteps by training
to be a miner at Howe Bridge Colliery and then Brackley. Several
of his older brothers were already serving in different army regiments.
This inspired Dad to enlist in the Lancastrian Brigade as a Band
Boy on 9 August 1956. Like many members of his family, he had
a natural musical ability playing the bugle, cornet, guitar and
later the clarinet.
Dad spent time at the Depot Kings Regiment where he would have
carried out military, educational and musical training. In May
1957, he joined the Regimental Band as a Fusilier. Two months
later, he was posted to Cyprus leaving England on 6 July 1957
on a flight bound for Nicosia. During his time in Cyprus, he passed
his driving test and at some point joined the Motor Transport
Division. He became the Commanding Officer's driver and was held
in very high regard. He also had the honour to chauffeur the Irish
singer, Ruby Murray between camps so that she could entertain
the troops. Whilst in Cyprus he was promoted to Lance Corporal.
He came back to England after the operational tour in January
1960. Dad was awarded the General Service Medal with the Cyprus
clasp for that tour. The medal was missing for more than five
decades until in April 2018, to my amazement it came up for sale
with a Nottingham dealer. I was able to purchase it thus returning
it to his immediate family.
On 10 March 1960 Dad attended the School of Infantry Small Arms
and Signals Wing at Hythe, in Kent. Whilst in Kent he met and
married my mother in December 1960 and I was born a year later.
Always having had an interest in vehicle repairs Dad decided to
transfer to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME)
on 31 January 1962 and was duly reduced in rank to Private. He
wanted to train as a vehicle mechanic and so started at the School
of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (SEME), based in Bordon,
Hampshire on 27 March 1962. He finished this course in November
that same year after passing the exams and was then posted to
5 Infantry Workshop in the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR). The
workshop was based in Redesdale Barracks, Dortmund and he passed
further exams whilst there.
On returning to England, Dad was discharged from the army on 14
October 1963 with an 'Exemplary' service record. After that, he
enrolled in the Regular Army Reserve for two periods up until
14 October 1970, leaving the day before his 31st birthday.
After leaving the regular army Dad worked as a vehicle mechanic
in a garage, an agricultural mechanic and an HGV driver for a
haulage company in Liphook, Hampshire. During this time Dad's
health deteriorated and he was subsequently diagnosed with an
inherited heart condition and given only months to live. He underwent
many operations at Guys Hospital in London and to his doctor's
amazement, he lived another seven years after the original diagnosis.
Dad passed away on 28 August 1979, just two weeks before his 40th
birthday. He was laid to rest in the Lawn of Remembrance at Aldershot
Dad's family are incredibly proud of his military service. He
is lovingly remembered as a funny, happy man, who loved life.
A man with amazing artistic skills and above all, an enduring
love for all of his four daughters. Gone too soon,
rest in peace Dad.
Those we love don't go away,
They walk beside us every day,
Unseen, unheard, but always near,
Still loved, still missed and very dear.