I found a Probate for a Selwyn BELLIS and it made me wonder if he had been injured in War Service and died later in 1949, as many did, he would have missed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission commitment to remember the dead who died between the dates 3 September 1939 to 31 December 1947. All servicemen had to make a Will, so that alone makes me believe he was in the services.
I could not find Selwyn on the http://veterans.mod.uk/ – The online Roll of Honour contains the names of members of the Armed Forces who died in military service, on or after 1 January 1948 (and Palestine 1945-47), who are commemorated on the official single service rolls of honour.
Selwyn Bellis is on the Hawarden Grammar School Roll of Honour which was Dedicated on the 3rd of February 1951, at Hawarden Grammar School, according to the Chester Chronicle of the 10th of Feb 1951, when a Memorial Service to the memory of the 46 former members of the school who fell in WW2.
So, I tended to think that he was not in the Forces, as I couldn’t find him on the Veterans UK database. Of course, that doesn’t prove he wasn’t, as I would think many names are missing from the Veteran’s UK database and I know for a fact that the CWGC does not hold every name as I have tried, and odd times succeeded, to get names on the database in the last 9 years, it’s possible and they call these cases “In from the Cold.”
However, I believe that Selwyn Bellis was born in the September quarter of 1924 (HawardenFlintshire (Mold) HAW/32A/40), the son of Edward Arthur & Catherine Bellis (nee Davies) who had married in a Civil Ceremony at Holywell in the June quarter of 1911 (Flintshire (Mold) HOL/38/4).
Edward Arthur Bellis is seen on the 1911 census, which was taken on the 2nd of April 1911, living with his family at Bryn Estyn, Leeswood, Mold, Flintshire (6 rooms). All the family spoke only Welsh. Head of the household was Richard Bellis, 60 and a Hewer at the Colliery, he tells us that they had been married for 30 years. His wife Jane, 53, tells us that 7 children had been born, and sadly 2 had died. Their eldest son, Edward A. Bellis, was single and age 29, he was a Mill Wright. John Bellis was 24, single and a Collier (Filler), Alfred Bellis was 22, single and a Collier. The only daughter on this census was Edith, 20, single and a Domestic Servant. There were 2 grandchildren, Alfred,11, and Agnes, 9, both at school.
The 1921 census, taken on the 19th of June 1921, shows the young couple living at Compton House, Leeswood, Mold. Edward Arthur Was head of the household, although he had written his name E.A. Bellis, so I am assuming this is he. He tells us that he is now 37 years and 11 months old, he was a Colliery Stoker at H.S. Higginbottom’s Colliery. His wife, Kate Bellis was 33 years and 2 months old, she was doing ‘Home Duties,’ they had both been born in Leeswood. No children are on the census.
The next time we see Edward Arthur & Catherine Bellis is on the 1939 National Register which was taken on the 29th of September 1939. They were living at 3 Queens Street, Queensferry, Hawarden, Flintshire. There were 4 people in the household, Edward A. Bellis being the head of the household, his birth date was the 21st of April 1884, and he was an Engine Driver in the Steel Rolling Mill (J. Summers & Sons). His wife Catherine (Kate) had been born on the 10th of April 1887 and like most married women on this Register who did not have a job, was doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.” There is a “Closed Record,” or redacted record, which could have been Selwyn as he didn’t leave school until 1941, this is according to the School’s Admissions Register. There was another person living there, a Robert D. Edwards, a Boiler Trimmer, single and his date of birth was the 4th of January 1896.
I do not have any information on the early years of Selwyn, except for his entry in the Hawarden Grammar School Admissions Register E/GS/1/10: –
2845 BELLIS, Selwyn, Date of birth – 26th July 1924, Eryl, 3, Queens Street, Queensferry, Engine Driver, Queensferry C.C. Date of Entry – 16th September 1937, Date of leaving 28th May 1941 Railway Clerk.
I applied to the Superintendent Registrar, and it appears that sadly Selwyn died of T.B. and Amyloid Disease*, but again it doesn’t mean he wasn’t in the Forces or doing War work, so any help would be appreciated.
* Amyloidosis https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Health-Conditions/Amyloidosis.aspx
However, I found on http://www.hawardencemetery.uk/ZName%20B.htm the burial of Selwyn and it stated that he was in the RAF and a Flight Lieutenant. At last, I had a clue, but there was no Service Number, so it has beaten me to get any further, as to where he was stationed and what his role in the war was, but as he left school in 1941 at the age of 17, so after a little while as a Railway Clerk, he must have enlisted or was conscripted. As a Grammar school boy, he was a sure pick for the Royal Air Force, I would think.
I wrote to the R.A.F. Forum to see if I could find out more, and thanks to Chris, who replied, he is a gem by the way, as he told me so much and gave me a link – https://75nzsquadron.wordpress.com/f-h-turner-crew-3-11-1943/ which told all about Selwyn’s service in the R.A.F., and a photograph of Selwyn and his crew, please click on the link to see what Selwyn did in the war. He made many missions as you will see. Please look at the photo of Selwyn below.
Chris also told me: – “According to The Gazette
F/Lt Bellis (178727) of General Duties RAFVR was commissioned on 28th June 1944 from the rank of Flight Sergeant.
He relinquished his commission on 28th February 1948 on medical grounds.
He was therefore no longer in the RAF when he passed away which explains why he is not on the Armed Forces Roll of Honour. The Gazette supplies nothing of his postings etc.”
Many, many thanks to Chris from the R.A.F. Forum, without whom Selwyn’s story could not be told in its fullness.
Edwin Arthur Bellis, Selwyn’s father, died on the 22nd of July 1954 age 71 years, so he would have seen his son’s name on the School Plaque, as would his mother Catherine, who died on the 17th of January 1967 age 80 years. As far as I can see, Selwyn was their only child.
Selwyn’s name was put forward by his family to make sure that he would be remembered for perpetuity.
I hope that his family were able to attend the dedication of the Roll of Honour at Hawarden Grammar School on the 3rd February 1951 with a Remembrance Service for the 47* former pupils who died in the 1939 – 1945 World War. As recorded in the Chester Chronicle Saturday 10th February 1951.
*Author’s note, there are 46 names on the Roll of Honour, clerical error by the newspaper.
Any help to add to Selwyn’s story would be gratefully received as he must not be forgotten.