Willis Edward Bell was born on 11 August 1922 in Apison, Hamilton County, Tenn., to Robert Bell and Mable Davis. He was married to Bettye Bryant and father of Barbara Annette Bell.
Killed in Action 12 July 1944, France

Buried at Plowman Cemetery, Apison, Hamilton County, Tennessee
Garde of Hope Row 7, Plot B

The Chattanooga Daily Times, 5 February 1946
Two bereaved Apison families are today grateful for the kindness of a French family they have never seen. Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Davison and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bell, whose sons, T5 Ardell Davison and Willis Bell, espectively died in France in the hedgerow battles that finally won St. Lo, have the comfort of knowing that their sons’ graves are cared for by a sympathetic family which has know its own grief. In October, 1944, only a few months after the Normandy invasion, S/Sgt Hugh Knauff of Apison visited the graves of his two friends, Bell and Davison, at La Cambe, near Isigny-sur-Mer, France. He returned some time later to make photographs of the graves, but the pictures did not turn out well. Meanwhile Knauff was transferred to Belgium, several hundred miles away, and he was unable to return to the great American cemetery. At home the Apison families one day noticed an Associated Press Photo in The Chattanooga Times showing a Mme. Chapell of Isigny-sur-Mer placing flowers on the graves of fallen Americans. Knauff, still in Belgium, received a copy of the picture and decided to write the Frenchwoman for pictures of the graves. Film was a difficult item to obtain, but the French family managed to take the requested photographs. The flowers at the foot of the crosses were the Chapells own idea, and ever since that time they have been placing flowers on the graves. “Many French families respectfully asked for the same privileges,”Knauff says, “and a lot of them have ‘adopted’ graves. They feel somehow that they are honoring their own dead as well when they decorate the cemeteries.”
In a recent letter to Knauff, who is now on leave awaiting re-assignment in April at Fort McPherson, Ga., the Chapells wrote: “*** Yesterday was the anniversary of the 1914-918 victory, and the tombs of the brave soldiers have been covered by French visitors come with flags and music and flowers to put at the head of the graves in the cemetery*** if you have need of any service do not hesitate to ask us *** we are inclosing a picturer of the grave you hold dear.
“T5 Davison was Apison’s first reported war casualty: before the war he was employed at the Apison bauxite plant. Pfc. Bell, who lost his life on July 13, 1944, one day after Davison was killed, was with the American Lava Company before entering the army. His wife is the former Bettye Bryant and there is a small daughter. Knauff, who served with the U.S. Army engineers, wears the Croix de Guerre, awarded the First, Fifth and Sixth Brigades for their action in the Normandy advance.

Pvt. Bell has three brothers, William G., Franklin D. and Wurlitz, now in France and three sisters, Elizabeth and Christina Bell and Mrs. Ernest winkler.

  • Rank: Private
  • Date of birth:
  • 11 August 1922
  • Date of death: 12 July 1944
  • County: Hamilton
  • Hometown: Apison
  • Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
  • Theater: Europe
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Awards: Purple Heart
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Plowman Cemetery, Apison, Hamilton County, TN
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XI, Middle Panel
  • Contact us to sponsor Willis E. Bell

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