Vereen Bell

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Vereen M. Bell
Born5 October 1911
Cairo, Georgia
Died26 October 1944 (aged 33)
Leyte Gulf
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
UnitUSS Gambier Bay (CVE-73)
Battles/warsWorld War II
Other workNovelist Notable works-Swamp Water

Vereen M. Bell (5 October 1911 – 26 October 1944) was an American novelist and naval officer, who was killed in action during World War II.

Early life[edit]

Born in Cairo, Georgia to Jennie Vereen and (Judge) Reason Chesnutt Bell, Vereen Bell attended public schools before graduating from Davidson College in North Carolina in 1932.


After writing several short stories and editing magazines, Bell wrote the novel Swamp Water, set in the Okefenokee Swamp. It was originally published in 1940 as a serial in the Saturday Evening Post. The novel was successfully adapted as a film (B&W) of the same title in 1941 and again as a color film, Lure of the Wilderness, in 1952.

Bell continued writing while serving in the Navy in World War II. In May 1944 he was observed pecking at a typewriter in a stateroom on his ship, the USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73). The working title of his last work was The Renegade Queen.[1]


In World War II Bell was a lieutenant assigned as an intelligence officer to Composite Squadron VC-10 aboard the USS Gambier Bay, an escort carrier. In the Battle off Samar, on 25 October 1944, the Gambier Bay was part of a task force attacked by Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita's "Center Force". Bell rushed to the ready room to put on his flying gear but was ordered by the VC-10 commander, Lt. Cdr. Edward Huxtable, to remain on board. Bell survived the sinking of the Gambier Bay that morning but succumbed to exposure and delirium sometime during the evening of the 26th.[2]


Named for Bell is the "Vereen Bell Highway" in Ware County, Georgia.[3]

Davidson College today awards the Vereen Bell Award for creative writing in his honor.


  1. ^ Hoyt, Edwin P. (1979). "The Men of the Gambier Bay". Globe Pequot Press, p. 74. ISBN 1-58574-643-6
  2. ^ Hoyt, Edwin P. (1979). "The Men of the Gambier Bay". Globe Pequot Press, p. 234. ISBN 1-58574-643-6
  3. ^ Krakow, Kenneth K. (1975). Georgia Place-Names: Their History and Origins (PDF). Macon, GA: Winship Press. p. 241. ISBN 0-915430-00-2.

Further reading[edit]

Vereen Bell, Brag Dog and Other Stories: The Best of Vereen Bell, Belgrade, Mont., Wilderness Adventures Press, 2000.
Alexander Sesonske, "Jean Renoir in Georgia: Swamp Water," Georgia Review 26 (Spring 1982), pp 24–66.