Mr Bell

An honoured contingent of OSA and TSS staff, cadets and students joined our oldest Old Boy, Mr Joffre Bell (MCK1932-37), at his hometown of Clifton in April to commemorate his WWII service and to also celebrate his 104th birthday.

What an incredible life story our oldest Old Boy has and what remarkable changes he has witnessed over two centuries. We were delighted to have 11-year-old TSS student, Rivers, in our visiting group as that is the same age Mr Bell came to TSS. They had a wonderful time together sharing stories.

There are now over 1600 students at TSS, but Mr Bell was one of just 100 boys in the school when he arrived – all of whom were residing in the Clock Tower building. To get to and from school for holidays, Mr Bell would catch the mail train from Clifton to Brisbane, then an overnight stay in Brisbane before catching the Gold Coast ‘Stinker’ to Southport and walking the remaining kilometres to TSS.

Thrilled by the adventure away from home, he wasted no time getting involved in school sports, including the shooting team, and playing as a hooker in the ‘Mickey’ First XV rugby team. After graduating in 1937, Mr Bell joined the Toowoomba Air Club and eventually the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1940 as WWII swept across Europe. Due to a lack of facilities in Australia, the RAAF had him sent to Canada for training and then transferred to Britain to join the Royal Air Force as part of the bomber command. He was sent to the 102 Squadron (a heavy bomber squadron) as a navigator and bomb aimer, and would fly missions across Italy, Germany, and France. Mr Bell is now one of Australia’s oldest living WWII veterans.


“Joffre is always genuinely overwhelmed with the kindness and attention that the students, the staff, and School continue give him. It really lifts his spirits.” daughter Kirsten.

During the visit, Headmaster Hawkins (MCK95) warmly addressed Mr Bell and his group of RAAF visitors, family, and friends, as did OSA President Craig Hobart (THO85), and TSS Chaplain Reverend John Dougherty blessed Mr Bell with a prayer. Our TSS Prep students sang happy birthday by video link and prepared a beautiful hand made that Mr Hawkins presented, along with other gifts including a McKinley cushion. The 11th Light Horse Warwick-Montrose Troop made for a fitting entrance for Mr Bell, alongside our cadets.

“Joffre is always genuinely overwhelmed with the kindness and attention that the students, the staff, and School continue give him. It really lifts his spirits.” daughter Kirsten said.

“He sees his longevity as a way of reminding everybody about those who didn’t come back from the War. As such, he greatly appreciates how TSS acknowledges the heroes who have served and how the school imparts the idea of respecting their sacrifices to its students.”

We warmly acknowledge Mr Bell for his humility, kindness, resilience, compassion, and generosity. We thank him for his service to country and for the lifelong joy he brings to all around him. We are truly heart warmed by the lifelong connection with his beloved TSS.

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