On 1 June 1916, Douglas John Bell enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps and received his Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate on 22 September 1916. In October 1916 he was assigned to 27 Squadron. Credited with three Albatros D.IIIs, Bell and John Gilmour of Scotland were the two highest scoring aces to fly the Martinsyde G.100. Following a promotion to flight commander in March 1917, Bell was reassigned to 78 Squadron in England. Though never confirmed, he and his observer scored the first victory for the Home Defence on the evening of 25 September 1917. Flying a Sopwith 1½ Strutter, Bell and Lt. G.G. Williams attacked a Gotha bomber south of Brentwood, firing into it for nearly fifteen minutes before it crashed into the North Sea. On 13 February 1918, Bell returned to France, joining 3 Squadron as a flight commander. Flying the Sopwith Camel, he scored 17 victories in less than two months before he was killed in action attacking a two-seater during the German offensive on the Aisne. Bell was the highest scoring ace to serve with 3 Squadron.
Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators' Certificates, 1910-1950
Military Cross (MC)
2nd Lt. Douglas John Bell, R.F.C., Spec. Res.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of a long distance bomb raid. Owing to his good leadership and skill a large ammunition dump was destroyed. Later, he single-handed carried out a difficult mission and succeeded in reaching his objective under extremely adverse weather conditions.
2nd Lt. (T./Capt.) Douglas John Bell,
M.C., R.F.C., Spec. Res.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He has led his formation with great skill and has destroyed three enemy aeroplanes and driven down two others, one of which was seen to be completely out of control. The high state of efficiency which his flight has attained is due to his splendid example and fearless leadership.