INDENTLieutenant David Courtney Bell, aged 23 years of Strawberry Hill, Middlesex was killed during a surface action with German seaplanes, 16 July 1918.
H.M. Submarine C25 patroling on the surface off the East Anglian Coast was spotted by five enemy seaplanes returning from a raid on Lowestoft. The Captain of the submarine, Lieutenant Bell assumed the aircraft were British and took no evasive action; turning into the sun the seaplanes attacked the submarine with machine guns as they had expended their bombs on Lowestoft. Lieutenant Bell and four ratings were killed immediately - it was imperative the submarine dive for safety. A seriously wounded rating trapped in the hatchway was pulled through, but only with difficulty - he died in the meantime. One of the bodies in the conning tower rolled into the hatchway and two men were killed in an attempt to remove the further obstruction. The situation was critical, the 1st Officer decided to cut a leg off the body but before the operation was completed, H.M. Submarine E51 returning from patrol arrived on the scene, engaged and dispersed the enemy then took the C25 in tow into Harwich Harbour
Oberleutenant F. Christiansen (Ordre Pour Le Mérite) an 'Ace' with 21 victories led the seaplane attack. Christiansen, the Commander of a Naval Air Station at Zeebrugge, created a precedent by crediting the C25, a non aeronautical craft, to his score; although duly recorded the submarine was not a true victory as it was towed to safety (with two interesting photographs of the attack - see article in Medal News, September 1984 relating to this well publicised action)