Saturday, October 12, 2013

Joseph Bell - Chief Engineer "Titanic"

As readers may may know from previous posts on this and my other blog The History Bucket, I am keen to tell stories of heroism by individuals who remain largely unknown. I also have an interest in ships and the sea, and the history and genealogy of those who served in the British Merchant Navy. I am currently engaged in the transcription of World War I MN crew lists for the UK National Archives and I know that many of those men would have suffered greatly or lost their lives in the course of their duties when their ships were torpedoed or otherwise destroyed, and that the majority of them have no known graves or memorials.

Thus all these interests merge together in this appeal by a member of the Institute of Marine Engineers to assist in the restoration of the gravestone of a man who has been largely overlooked in the famous drama of the sinking of the Titanic - the Chief Engineer, Joseph Bell. This coincides with the publication of a new book about Bell. If it weren't for Bell and his engineers who remained in the bowels of the ship and kept the lights on and the machinery operating until the bitter end, well knowing that none of them would survive, the death toll from that famous disaster would have been even higher than it was.

Mr Lightfoot's words say it all:

Joseph Bell Appeal

As an ex marine engineer who is still working in the marine industry and someone who has shown an interest in the refurbishment of Joseph Bell’s gravestone in Farlam, Cumbria, I have been asked to write a foreword to a book that is to be published about this Maritime hero who was a member of the Institute of Marine Engineers back in the day. 
So I thought I would take the opportunity to promote the Institute and decided to see what reference there is to Joseph Bell on the IMarEST website. 
Surely the Institute is proud of the numerous members who have given their lives in the line of duty and especially those who went above and beyond the call of duty? 
Sadly I cannot find any reference to Joseph Bell via the search facility.

Since time immemorial marine engineers have had to battle for the public recognition we justly deserve for the job we do for the nation.  Making mention of past and present members who have performed heroic deeds could help the cause. Of course Joseph Bell was not the only Engineer to remain at his post until the ship went down; all of the engine room staff did, so many more than just the one hero, but for the purposes of this communication JB is the person being honoured.

As well as the book, descendants of his family have started a fund to raise £2000 to have his gravestone cleaned and repaired and I was wondering if the Institute would be prepared to make a donation or at least give some support and publicity to honour one of our own?  After all I'm not sure I would have had the courage to stay at my post down in the engine room, knowing that if I did I would surely die.

More details about Joseph Bell’s gravestone appeal can be found here

Thanks for your time and hopefully your interest in the Appeal.

Best regards

John H Lightfoot  MBE  CMarEng  FIMarEST
Click here for information on the book

No comments:

Post a Comment