M.2*  First Officer Rupert Bellville 

flag england

b. 28 Dec 1904, Lubenham, Market Harborough, Leics.  1 Feb 1940 to Nov-40 


  

ata rupert bellville 1946

1946

     

 

His family had made their fortune in the mustard trade.

Ed. Eton (left in 1921)

Height: 6ft 4½ in. Fair hair, blue eyes.

In 1931, he was Venetia Montagu's personal pilot when they decided to tour Persia and Russia in her DH.60G Gipsy Moth G-ABFW. They left Heston on March 27th, reached Budapest on April 1, made a forced landing at Nisch, Jugoslavia, but were able to fly to Constantinople on the 13th April. 20 days later on May 2nd, "when flying from Teheran to Moscow, their machine crashed near Sabzawar, Persia, and, although the machine was burnt, they were both unhurt.”

It only took her a couple of weeks to find another aeroplane, however; she purchased a ‘Moth‘ in Iraq, and left for Astrabad, on the Russian frontier, on May 16. They arrived in Moscow from Tashkent on June 1st, and left for Berlin on June 3rd.

In 1934, he was described as "a very well-known air pilot, of Papillon Hall, Market Harborough, Leicestershire".

He was fined £10, plus 3 guineas costs, in 1936 for persistently smoking on board the Imperial Airways airliner 'Heracles'. He said at the time "I shall smoke if I like, I have always done so". The Times reported that Mr Bellville had joined the Auxiliary Air Force in 1926 and had flown "all over the Continent and all over Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Persia, India, Siam and China". The court was thinking about letting him off with a warning, but were put off by what they described as his "defiant attitude".

In late August 1937, he got himself into the Spanish Civil War (on General Franco's side) and was briefly taken prisoner by the republicans. Apparently, he had (wrongly) heard that Santander had fallen to the nationalists, so he flew himself and the head of the Gonzales Byass sherry firm there, with "a few cases of sherry for the officers of the victorious troops". When they landed at the airport, he discovered his mistake and was taken prisoner and forced to fly to Gijon, while his passenger was held as a hostage. I don't know what happened to the aeroplane... or the sherry!

Rupert was released 10 Sep, 1937, prompting a question in the House of Commons as to "in what circumstances, on whose authority, and at what cost a British destroyer was dispatched" to rescue him.

papillon hall advert rupert bellville

He sold Papillon Court the following year and thereafter gave his address as "White's Club, London."

His son Hercules ** was born in San Diego in 1939 (Rupert's then-wife was American).

 He resigned from the ATA on 19 Nov 1940.

He gave his profession in 1946 as (trust me) "a bullfighter".

He was declared bankrupt in 1955.

d. 23 Jul 1962, London

His obituary said "Rupert's death will leave a gap in many places. He had a host of friends in London, Paris, New York, Spain, and wherever else his wanderings took him and these friends were of all sections of the community.

Rupert's tragedy was that he was born in the wrong age. He would have been an ideal companion for d'Artagnan or would have been in his element helping Francis Drake to singe the King of Spain's beard. These things being denied to him in this material age, he nevertheless contrived to find adventure in every walk of life. He fought bulls in Spain and became a brilliant air pilot in the years before the war. He also took part in the Spanish Civil War. He loved to gamble and some of his happiest hours must have been spent at backgammon tables all over the world and at the bridge table.

There were times, perhaps, when the world became too much for him but his many friends will remember him for his cavalier qualities and his companionship. To paraphrase the words from which his great friend Ernest Hemingway took the title of a book, "... never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee".

** His son Hercules, who became a famous film director and producer, died of lung cancer on 12 Feb 2009. 

 

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