Francis (Frank) John Bell, 1919-1930 Service Record [Revised]


Snr Engineer, Francis John [Frank] Bell, b.21.08.1895 Tottenham London.

Francis John [Frank] Bell – Service Record aged 24 in 1919

This record had to be presented every time he signed onto a ships crew, although this record stops in 1930 it could be due to a change in systems rather than a career change. The first ship listed as 124061 was SS Adriatic he joined the ship in September 1919 and was a 6th senior engineer. On the 29th September 1919 Adriatic collided with the freighter St Michael. Adriatic was not damaged but St Michael sustained some damage to her plates. Adriatic returned to the Southampton service in 1919 till 1922, when she returned to the Liverpool service.  It is recorded that he arrived  as a passenger in New York, and  listed at  [Ellis Island] on the 8th February 1920, his home address was Stockton Heath, Warrington.   From 1926 she was mostly used only as a cruise ship and in 1928 she was converted to cabin class. When Cunard and White Star merged in May 1934, it was decided that is was the end for Adriatic, and at the end of the cruise season was laid up and sold for scrap. The second ship listed as 110620 was SS Persic he joined the ship in February 1921. In 1920 she was refitted to accommodate passengers. Persic was scrapped in 1927. Persic had been requisitioned as a troop transport during WW1, and was torpedoed by a German U-boat thought to have been U-87 off the coast of Sicily, she somehow managed to limp in to port under her own steam. The third ship listed as 145910 was SS Dakotian he joined the ship in April 1922.  The ship was built in 1922 as a cargoliner and on 21st November 1940, the ship struck a mine and sank off Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, all were rescued.  She had been bound from Swansea for St John, New Brunswick, Canada with a general cargo; 1300 tons of tinplate, Christmas puddings and  bycycles. The fourth ship listed as 145891 was SS Dakarian registered at the port of Liverpool in 1921. He joined the ship in February 1924 as a 4th engineer and the route was Liverpool – Houston. The fifth ship listed as 135476 was SS Scythian registered at the port of Liverpool in 1913.  He joined the ship in June 1924.  The route sailed  was the trans-Atlantic one between Liverpool and New York. The sixth ship listed as 145433 was SS Minnewaska registered in Belfast in 1923.  He joined the ship in July 1928.  The route sailed was London – Boulogne – New York. The seventh ship listed as 144805 was SS Sophocles registered in Aberdeen in 1922, it was renamed Tamaroa in 1926 and sailed on the Southampton – Panama – Wellington service. The eighth ship listed as 149751 was SS Almeda registered in London in 1926 as a refrigerated cargo liner.  Her maiden voyage was from London on 16th February 1927 opening the company’s passenger service  to the River Plate, calling at Boulogne, Madeira, Tenerife, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, Montevideo  and Buenos Aires.  The ship was renamed SS Almeda Star on the 7th May the day before Frank Bell joined the ship on the 8th May 1929 as 4th engineer. The nineth ship listed as 129067 was SS Highland Rover registered in London in 1910. The Nelson Lines who had at least another six ships using the same prefix of ‘Highland’ provided a service to Brazil & River Plate.  The ship accommodated 80 1st, 36 intermediate and 400 steerage passengers.  A cargo of 2000 tons of refrigerated meat, 2000 tons general cargo and space for live cattle.  The ships route was: London-Vigo-Las Palmas-Rio de Janeiro-Montevideo-Buenos Aires. He joined the ship on 25th July 1929. The tenth ship listed as 132559 was SS Highland Piper registered in London in 1920. Another of the Nelson Line ships whose  route was: London-Boulogne-Vigo-Canary Isles-Rio de Janeiro-Montevideo-Buenos Aires. He joined the ship on 29th October  1929. The eleventh ship listed 149981 was MV Dunster Grange registered in London 1928.  The La Plata run was from both London & Liverpool to Montevideo and Buenos Aires. He joined the ship on 14th April 1930. The twelfth  and final ship in so far as is known, was listed as 115268 and was SS Baltonia registered in London in 1927.  The ships routes for the period 1919-1939 were: London to Poland-Latvia-Lithuania and Estonia. He joined the ship on 13th June 1930. The seagoing career of Francis [Frank] John Bell as far as known, began at age 26 in 1919 and ended at age 35 in c.1930 after a seagoing career of 11 years. The research continues….

Joseph and son Frank Bell, from film ‘SAVING THE TITANIC.

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