The Colin Bell Award is a newly established annual award at the College, to support any archival, educational or research work undertaken on the papers of Sir Winston Churchill, the Second World War and other related collections within the Churchill Archives Centre (‘CAC’).  In its inaugural year, the first scholars to be presented the Award are naval historian and independent researcher Simon Harley for his research project on “The British Royal Navy’s design, development and use of the battle cruiser in the years leading up to and including the First World War”; and Brittany Gittus, DPhil candidate in History at the University of Oxford, for her research project on  “‘Some definite organisation apart from the League’: multilateralism beyond the League of Nations in the 1930s”.

The award is made possible by Nigel Grimshaw, who has established it at Churchill College to honour Colin Bell DFC, a 103  year old veteran of the RAF in WW2.  Nigel said “I wish to honour Colin and others of his special generation who made so many sacrifices to secure the freedoms that we enjoy (and to some extent take for granted) today, and to establish this award at Churchill College so that future generations can continue to research and learn more about 20th century history.”

Colin Bell DFC attended a lunch to present the winners with a certificate and to hear them speak about the progress of their research to date. Simon Harley’s work focuses on the battle cruisers and aims to shed new light on how design and process flaws contributed to the devastating losses suffered in the Battle of Jutland, and how these arose. Brittany Gittus is focusing on five case studies which allow her to explore how the League of Nations was supported or undermined by other organisations encroaching on the same space, identifying and exploring where modern parallels can be drawn and how public policy might take that into account.

Colin has a public presence as a pre-eminent representative of veterans from WW2, and is an accomplished speaker often called on to share his experiences. He has met with a number of recent Prime Ministers, and at 103 years old, he remains active in raising funds for causes close to his heart such as the Royal College of Nursing.

Photograph: L-R: Nigel Grimshaw, Brittany Gittus, Colin Bell, Simon Harley