Dr Bill Bellamy

Family doctor, decorated soldier and enthusastic countryman Dr Bill Bellamy has died at his south Norfolk home at the age of 85.

Family doctor, decorated soldier and enthusastic countryman Dr Bill Bellamy has died at his south Norfolk home at the age of 85.

Born in Yarmouth, Lloyd Albert William Bellamy, was the son of a master butcher, who moved to Norwich and had a shop in Bridewell Alley. His early education at Bishop Stortford College, Hertfordshire, was cut short by his father's financial difficulties.

He was encouraged to become a chartered accountant and signed articles with a Norwich firm but he hated it, seizing the opportunity of a looming war to join the army. He falsified his age in order to serve and spent the entire war with the Royal Engineers.

Later, he was sent to Birmingham to study engineering. He took part in the Normandy D-Day Landings in June 1944 and survived a direct hit on his landing craft, which blew the vessel out of the water. All survived. The young officer also helped to build the Mulberry Harbour and was Mentioned in Dispatches.

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In a later action, to secure the crossing of the River Seine near Vernon, he was awarded the Military Cross - the third-highest bravery award - for a single-handed rescue of a wounded NCO in his company. Lieut Bellamy was determined to bring his man home. Under enemy fire and in range of a lethal German sniper, he donned a farmer's overhauls and beret to scout a possible route to cross the river. Later in the gloom, he swam the river and towed the man to safety without realising that the sniper was perched almost directly overhead.

After the war, Capt Bellamy decided to become a doctor despite being told that he was too old. Lacking funds or resources, he pestered and persevered and managed to get a place at Birmingham University. He found the early training very hard after almost seven years of military life.

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He took to medicine like a duck to water and met a fellow student “over the anatomy table”. When they qualified about six years later, he married Joan. Given the chance to become a registrar at a leading Birmingham hospital, he refused the post because he wanted to go into general practice.

By a chance family connection, he got the opportunity to return to Norfolk and join a practice at Bergh Apton, where later his wife also became a partner covering the area from Loddon to Norwich and Poringland and Stoke Holy Cross. For almost a quarter of a century, the husband-and-wife GP team was somewhat of a rarity in the county. He retired in 1982.

A keen shot, he also bred labradors and was a treasurer of the East Anglian Gun Dog Society. An invitation to Sandringham and, incidentally, luncheon with the Queen was especially appreciated.

The church at St Andrew, Framingham Earl, was overflowing for the funeral on Tuesday. His five grandchildren and a niece, who returned from the United States, gave readings.

He leaves a widow, Joan, and two sons, Charles and William, who is now a GP in Worcestershire.

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