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Thread: Bobby bell

  1. #1
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    Bobby bell

    Hi !

    I am interested to know something about a former hockey player and coach Bobby Bell.

    He was born in Canada in 1904 but came to Europe and coached German and Swiss club teams and was reichstrainer of the German National Hockey Team 1936-39.

    He was executed in 1945 by the Germans or the Allies in Belgium.

    Why ??

    I also want to know what club teams did he coach in the 20´s and the 30´s.

    saukko

  2. #2
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    He was executed by the Allies because he was a nazi spy, but it´s not official proved.

    He was among other things coach of HC Davos (1928-1932), SC Riessersee (1932-1936) and the Düsseldorfer EG (1936-?).
    Unfortunately I didn´t find any information about place and year of birth or clubs as player.

  3. #3
    IHF Member Bobby Orr's Avatar
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    Saukko and Icecrack,

    Bobby Bell's story is intriguing and still surrounded by a lot of mystery. I have the following info on Bobby Bell in my notes.

    Robert Arthur Bell

    He was born in Lachine, Quebec 1905 and attended McGill University in the mid 1920's. [Not to be confused with legendary McGill coach Robert Blagrave Bell]. Bell then came over to Europe in 1927 as a member of the Montreal Victorias, invited by Swedish sponsors. Their exhibition tour in Sweden was a smashing success and they quickly recieved invitations from another six countries, ending up playing 14 games on their European tour, winning them all [Total score was 155-10]. The team had two ex-NHL'ers (Dave Campbell and Earl Robinson], plus one future NHL'er [Joe Lamb], so it was a very good team.

    Bell was approached by HC Davos just after the Victorias had won a mini-tournament in Milano. Bell had scored 3 goals against a Davos/St.Moritz combination and impressed the Davos management. He wasn't cheap though, recieving a hefty 2,000 Swiss francs per month, which was a lot of money back then. Bell went on to play and coach for HC Davos between 1927-29. Bell also played for the Paris Canadians in 1928-29, made up of mainly Canadians studying in Paris.

    He continued to play and coach for Zürcher SC, SC Bern and once again HC Davos until 1935, before moving to Germany. There he played for teams made up by German and European Canadians. He then played and coached for Düsseldorfer EG between 1936-38, before coaching SC Riessersee. In Düsseldorf he earned close to 400 reichsmark a month, plus a car and apartment.

    Bell was well respected and popular among the players, a very good coach. He was hired to coach the German national team during the second half of the 1930's, leading them to several EC-medals.

    Many details about his death is still unclear, but it is clear that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and that eventually cost him his life. He was detained during a border control in early March 1940, unclear where, and transported to Brussels on March 3. The reason was that he was travelling from Germany but had no papers/documents at all. He was suspected of being a German collaborator/spy. Bell was in a Brussels prison for nearly two months.


    The Germans troops were getting closer to Brussels, so on May 15,1940 it was decided that Bell and 78 other suspected collaborators for the "other side" would be transported on trucks over the border to France instead, where it was deemed safer. A convoy of three trucks arrived to Abbeville (Northern France) late on May 19/early May 20 and the prisoners were crammed into a cellar below a music store.

    The German troops where however approaching fast there too, so the French commanding officer, Marcel Dingeon gave the order to kill all 79 prisoners. Aside from Bell there were more than 20 Belgians, 18 of unknown nationality, 14 Germans, 9 Italians, 6 from the Netherlands, 3 from Luxembourg, 2 from Switzerland, 1 each from France, Spain, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Denmark.


    Groups of two or four prisoners at a time were brought out from the cellar and executed with gunshots or stabbed with a bayonette. One of them was Bell, who according to the survivors heroically stood up and voluntarily climbed up the stairs out of the cellar, showing no fear at all. After having killed 21 of the prisoners (including Bell), the soldiers wanted to speed things up, so one of the soldiers threw a handgrenade into the cellar, but it didn't explode. The German bombardment around them intensified and the French soldiers had to take cover all the time, delaying the executions.

    At that point, lieutenant Jean Leclabart went by the scene, knowing the rules of POW's very well. He asked them if they had all gone crazy and demanded to see a written statement that these executions were sanctioned. When the soldiers failed to give him any documents he ordered them to stop the killing, thus saving the other 58 prisoners. Later that day, the Germans brushed through Abbeville, completely destroying the village.



    The questionmarks here:

    1) Bobby Bell is said to have coached SC Riessersee to a German title in 1941.

    2) I have a note from December 1940 saying that he was the coach for SC Riessersee during a tour to Italy.

    3) Some sources say he was killed in 1945

    But that can't be correct unless that was another hockey playing Bobby Bell.
    In any case, it's a tragic but fascinating story, one of many in the hockey world.

  4. #4
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    Hello Bobby Orr!

    So, Bobby Bell is a bit like the count Saint-German from general history;

    He died in the early 1800s, and yet he has been "seen" at times after that!

    I personally find that possbile, that there could have been two Bobby Bells coaching at the same time!

    All the best
    Jukka

  5. #5
    IHF Member Bobby Orr's Avatar
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    It's true that there could have been two Bobby Bells coaching at the same time in Germany, but it is highly unlikely that both came from the Montreal area and had the same middle name. Maybe today, but not in the 1930's when there were so few North Americans playing/coaching in Europe. According to "Dossier Abbeville" from 1977 by Carlos H. Vlaemynck, Bell stated that he was the coach of the German national team when he was arrested.

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