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April 11, 2018

FOUND WW2 Dog Tag James J. Bell of Idaho

Mick B. wrote to Olive Tree Genealogy with this request to help return a WW2 dog tag to its owner or descendants:

Found at Seething Airfield England a dog tag marked James J Bell

Number 0-742831  T4243.

It would be great to return it to the family - is this something you could help with.

As my readers can see from the image on the left, the dog tag contains more clues. The name Emma E. Bell is there, as is a location of Harrison, Idaho

Hopefully some of my wonderful readers will jump in to help Mick find James, Emma, or descendants.

Lorine's Research

I found information showing James was a pilot and a 2nd Lieutenant during WW2. Source

There is also a pdf file which indicates 2nd Lieutenant James J. Bell was the pilot of REPLACEMENT CREW #21 - Aircraft #41-28595 in the 713th BOMBARDMENT SQUADRON ordered to England.

This photo is of James and his crew in front of their airplane. According to the names on the verso (back) of the photo, James is the third man from the left in the front row.

Photo: The James Bell crew, from the 2nd Air Division Digital Archive, catalogue reference MC 371/349, USF PH 7/1. Published on Olive Tree Genealogy blog with permission of 2nd Air Division Memorial Library

If you choose the third photo at this photo link you will see another great image of James. He is the third man from the left in the front row.

James' obituary was found online:

Oregonian, The (Portland, OR) - Saturday, November 8, 2003
A memorial service will be at 2 p.m., Monday, Nov. 10, 2003, in Sunnyside Little Chapel of the Chimes for Dr. James J. Bell, who died Nov. 5 at age 82.

Dr. Bell was born Jan. 16, 1921, in Spokane. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and graduated from the University of Oregon Dental School. He was a dentist who lived in the Portland area most of his life and practiced in Lake Oswego. In 1948, he married Euretta "Peggy" Field.

Survivors include his wife; daughter, Kit; son, Jeff; and four grandchildren.

Remembrances to Friends of Tryon Creek State Park.
publication logo
Oregonian, The (Portland, OR) - Saturday, November 8, 2003
Oregonian, The () , obit for OBITUARIES DR. JAMES J. BELL, ( : accessed 28 March 2018)


Lily said...

I am impressed with all the work you did to find Mr. Bell. I hope the man who found the dog tag follows up.

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Mr. Bell is deceased so we need to find and contact his children or grandchildren

Donna said...

Humm, why would his dog tag say “Harrison, Idaho” when he apparently lived and died some 400 miles away near Portland, Oregon?? Sure you have the right fellow??

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Donna - as far as I can tell, his mother Emma lived in Harrison. Feel free to research this man! All help is welcome

David said...

Hello - I'm writing for my wife Catherine "Kit" Bell, the daughter of James J. Bell (she doesn't have a Google account). This is indeed the James Bell who grew up in Harrison, Idaho and, after his service in World War II (stationed in Seething, England; it is him in the photo, and that is his obituary), moved to Portland, Oregon and became a prominent dentist. It was in Portland that Kit and her younger brother Jeff were born and raised.

We would love to have this dog tag! If the finder Mick B. could kindly contact us at one of these addresses, we would be very grateful.

David said...

Dear Lorine,
Thank you so much for helping me connect with Mick, the gentleman who found my father's dog tag. He sent the tag, along with a compass, wings and maps of the Seething Airfield to me in care of my son who resides in Manchester, England.
As it turned out, my daughter and I were planning a visit to my son this July, so we were all able to open Mick's package together.
I don’t know who was the most excited to see what Mick had sent me, my children or grandchildren. My 10-year old granddaughter Mariam had studied WWII quite extensively at her school and acted in a play about the Blitz. When she was studying, she had taken a copy picture of my father and his crew to show her classmates. My grandson, Adam was full of questions that you can imagine any 9-year old boy would want to know.
Everyone wanted to hold the dog tag. How amazing to be touching something that my father wore during those dangerous missions. It is hard to believe that out of all the dog tags that must be lost out there Mick would find my dad's.
Along with the dog tag, Mick sent a compass he found at the airfield and a set of pilot wings. When we examined the compass, my granddaughter exclaimed, “It’s stuck. That must be the direction it was pointing when it was lost.” When the children realized that it was lost almost 75 years ago, they were blown away. It is impossible to know who lost the compass and the wings. We can only hope that they survived the war and went on to happy lives. All the items will be kept together and passed on to my son and grandchildren.
My son and I spent quite a long time going over the maps. They must have been top secret when they were created in 1944. It is incredible to think that they were done with such precision in the time before computers. Drawing maps by hand is probably becoming a lost art.
I’ll be visiting my brother soon and will be surprising him with what Mick found. I’m going to start by having him read the post on Olive Tree.
I’m hoping that sometime in the future my husband and I along with all the family can meet Mick and go with him to the Seething field. We all want to see where he found the dog tag and get a feel for the place that was such a significant part of my father’s life.
Please thank everyone involved in this search. My father and I were very close. There are some people we lose in life that we wish we could have even five minutes more with. He is one of those people for me. Finding the dog tag was almost like getting those five minutes back.
All the best,
Catherine (Kit) Bell